H.O.R.S.E. is a set combination of poker games, designed to test and show off a player’s wide variety of skills and strategies. In order to play through the rotations successfully, you mustbe comfortable with many different versions of poker. Keep reading to learn more about H.O.R.S.E., including its first $50,000 championship buy-in and a proposed 12-game mix! What Does H.O.R.S.E. Mean? The H comes from Texas Hold’em, the most popular form of poker. Omaha comes next, followed by Razz, Seven Card Stud, and Eight or Better. First publically introduced at the World Series of Poker (WOSP) in 2002, H.O.R.S.E. had a buy-in of $2,000. The game began garnering more attention thanks to its difficulty: players must be extremely skilled in all five games in order to compete at a professional level, much less win. By 2006, the buy-in at the WOSP was a record-setting $50,000. Learning the Basics As mentioned above, being well versed in all things poker is a must before tackling a game of H.O.R.S.E. While many players are skilled at a couple variants of poker, it is more difficult to concentrate and succeed while switching from game to game. Each game in the rotationhas its own set of rules and player strategies, so it is important not to get distracted or confused. Texas Hold’em and Omaha are both community card games, where players create the best possible hand from a combination of their starting cards and the board. Razz, followed by Seven Card Stud and Eight or Better, are all stud variants, where, over the course of several betting rounds, participants receive a mix of both face-up and face-down cards. Different betting structures and game strategies can make each of the stud variants quite different. H.O.R.S.E. can be played in two ways: by round or by time. If by round, participants begin with Texas Hold’em and typically compete either by playing a pre-determined number or hands or playing until the deck has returned to the original dealer. At this point, the players switch to Omaha, and so on through the rotation. Alternatively, the players will set a time limit for each round and switch games directly when the time is up. Common Variants Online gambling websites offer poker in numerous forms, including H.O.S.E. This variant simply eliminates the game Razz.More famously; the loose structure of H.O.R.S.E. lends itself well to adding more games and rounds. Adding Chowaha or Crazy Pineapple helps to balance the number of flop and stud games. To help out players with poor hands, add a game of lowball to the end to make C.H.O.R.S.E.L. Those variations are still relatively simple, but the possibilities for mixing games are endless. 8-game mixes are extremely popular, and people play 10- and 12-game mixes as well. What About the Money? Played individually, each of the variants included in this five-game mix could have different limits and betting strategies. With H.O.R.S.E., however, all games are played fixed limit, and the limit stays the same for each game. In addition to facilitating a level playing field, a fixed limit keeps the betting process simplified and streamlined, since the changing rules of each game can be confusing enough already! Playing with a fixed limit is common in both physical and online casinos, and the betting structure is easy to understand. Before starting H.O.R.S.E., you will set a betting amount that comes in pairs, such as $5-10 or $50-100. The betting limit begins with the lower number and switches to the higher number within each game. For example, in Texas Hold’em, the bet limit would be $50 for the pre-flop and flop, then $100 for the turn and river. Once you switch games, such as from Omaha to Razz, the betting limit reverts back to the lower number. Why Play? H.O.R.S.E. is a fantastic way to show off your poker skills and experience. Once you feel comfortable and secure playing each of the games individually, work your way up from free games to low-limit and finally higher-limit sessions. Since this five-game mix was not very well known until 2006, it is still growing in popularity. H.O.R.S.E. is not for beginners, which means even being able to play it is a bit impressive. Fellow players will be serious contenders and just as passionate about participating, bringing literal life to the phrase “giving you a run for your money”. This keeps the game fast-paced, engaging, and exciting, as you switch from game to game while keeping your strategies and rules straight. As an added bonus, the more rounds of H.O.R.S.E. you play, the better you will become at each of the separate variants. When you do go back to playing single-game tournaments or hands, you will be way more experienced at each and can experiment with more strategies or higher value games.