The origination of HORSE Poker can be traced back to some pro poker players who became bored of playing the same old games at amateur levels. In hopes of initiating some new action in an arena that would really test the agility and skill of players, HORSE was developed.
HORSE is a complex mixed game poker tournament that includes five variations of poker, which is where the acronym “HORSE” comes from: Hold ‘em, Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud and Eights or Better (Eights or Better is another name for Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo). A successful HORSE player is proficient in each one of these games, individually, before he comes agile enough to play them all together. There is no room for amateurs in HORSE, and there isn’t much room for luck, either. It’s all about the skill in HORSE.
Each one of the five games that make up a HORSE tournament are all very different and unique form the others, each game requiring a certain level of talent and a high degree of poker skill. When you put these games together back to back, the result is an intense and stressful challenge of poker. An amateur player will not be well-versed in every single one of these games; therefore, a HORSE competition guarantees stiff competition and there is really no tolerance for ignorance. When a player masters each of the five games involved in HORSE, he then can attempt to put his skills to the test at a higher level of competition. When pro poker players are looking to have some fun, challenge their own game, and sharpen their poker mind, they play HORSE. When they’re looking to make some money, they play Texas Hold ‘em or Omaha.
In a HORSE tournament, players alternate between the five games, fulfilling a certain amount of hands, reaching a set time duration, reaching a limit or blind cap, or when the dealer button has made its way once around the table. Once the requirement is reached, players then continue on to play the next game in HORSE. Once all games have been played, only one player will come out the winner. It is important to stay on top in every single game if you want to outlast your opponents. It’s not okay to even do poorly in one of the five games if you want to succeed. It is this reason that makes HORSE so elite; it is absolutely necessary that you are a great Texas Hold ‘em player, a great Omaha player, a great Razz player, a great 7 Card Stud Player, and a great Eights or Better player. There is simply no room for error; winners of HORSE games are considered to be the cream of the crop in poker.
All that being said, there is a place for amateurs in HORSE Poker. If you are an average player and just want to fine tune your skills at each of the five HORSE games, then you might get into a HORSE game just for fun. At the lower buy-ins, you’ll most likely find that the players match your experience level; however, you can get in over your head at the higher priced HORSE tournaments if you don’t have a strong grasp of each game. The problem is that you may excel at Texas Hold ‘em and Omaha, but if you don’t possess the same level of skill at 7 Card Stud, 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo, and Razz, you are not going to last very long in a HORSE event. You won’t even slide by in your weakest game; you must be proficient in every game to make a HORSE tournament worth your time.
HORSE doesn’t have a set of rules for strategy. You just have to know the strategies for each individual game at the utmost level, so learn the five games well, then try your hand at HORSE. It’s actually a good arena to practice each of these games, if it’s not going to cost you very much, or you can even play in a free HORSE tournament to get a basic feel for the structure. Do remember, though, that wagering with play money just isn’t the same as risking your own hard earned dollars. A few play money games and tournaments are good to help new players learn the ropes, structure, and rules of a game, but it is not a place to practice strategy simply because players just act differently there.
HORSE is a good training ground for amateurs who are looking to learn a lot about poker quickly, but just know that it is only the best trained poker players that are going to win HORSE and make money at it. Don’t expect to win if you aren’t at the expert level on all five games. Just play for fun until you’ve fine tuned all of your skill sets for each game.