Becoming a well-rounded poker player means having the ability to play many different variations of poker. High-stakes professional players typically move up to mixed games after they have all but mastered the games individually. This is what is important to know about playing mixed games; you can’t play mixed games until you’ve played each single game alone and have become agile in it. Then you can incorporate more than one game at a time. In other words, don’t sign up to play HORSE if you haven’t ever played Razz.
There’s a private glass poker room in the middle of the poker room at Bellagio’s, called Bobby’s Room, in which high-stakes players have been participating in mixed games for years. They can play any games they want in there, but the typical format is $4,000/$8,000 7-game Limit. You might be wondering how the players decide what they will play? Well, there is a standard set of rules (that might be slightly altered by the house) that governs the play of mixed games.
First of all, all players have to agree on the games prior to the beginning of the first game in the rotation. Secondly, adding, removing, or changing a game must be agreed upon by all participating players. Once the first hand begins, there can be no changes to the rotation, especially in tournament events. In general, unless otherwise decided, each game will include a complete table rotation, meaning that each player will have the chance to be on the button (be in the dealer position) one time. In games that do not use the dealer button (e.g. Stud) the dealer button will still be passed around the table at the onset of each hand to indicate how many hands have been played. It is also frowned upon for a player to opt out of any of the games; each player must play every game of the mixed rotation.
Some online poker rooms have added mixed games to their online gaming suit. 7-Game and 8-Game mixed events now occur frequently online and are rising in popularity, though some of the structures are different, like how many hands must be played before the game changes (some change games every six hands, while other change games every 10 hands). These games, unlike HORSE (Hold ‘em, Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud, and Eights or Better), typically have mixed-limit games, which means the games include all betting limits (fixed-limit, pot-limit, and no-limit). In a 7-Game mix, for instance, you might play Limit Texas Hold’em, Limit Stud Hi/Lo, Limit Razz, Limit Omaha Hi/Lo, Limit Stud, No-Limit Texas Hold ‘em, and Pot-Limit Omaha. An 8-Game mix would also include 2-7 Triple Draw.
Other mixed games, like HORSE, have specific acronyms that define the games they include. For example, HOSE is Texas Hold ‘em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Stud Hi, and Stud Hi/Lo. HOSE is fixed-limit. Another is HA, consisting of Texas Hold ‘em and Omaha Hi, pot-limit. And finally, HO, which is Texas Hold ‘em and Omaha Hi/Lo fixed-limit games. Games are typically rotated through in the order in which they appear in the name (i.e. in HA, Texas Hold ‘em would be played first, and Omaha Hi would be played second).
Participating in mixed games can be fun for players who play a lot of poker and often get bored playing the same game over and over. Without having to change tables, mixed games allow the games to come to you, offering excitement and alteration to your poker experience. It also allows players to learn more types of poker games and become accustomed to switching back and forth between them. Changing frame of mind quickly between one game to another can be a very useful mind exercise, as some games are so unique from others that it really is a challenge to see one hand in one light and then suddenly have to view the next hand in a totally different way.
It isn’t uncommon for players in a mixed game tournament to be playing a Razz hand when the game has changed to Stud. It takes concentration and focus, but it can be done by the sharpest of poker players. In fact, playing mixed games are so exhilarating, once you start playing them, it becomes difficult to go back to playing at single-game tables, so be forewarned.