The Complete Guide to HORSE Poker

Shane C

Nov 10, 2022

Guide to Horse Poker

A HORSE poker game is not what you are thinking. H.O.R.S.E is actually an acronym, taken from the names of 5 different types of poker games, which are played one after the other. This style of mixed poker game can be intimidating for inexperienced players because it requires knowledge of different poker variants.

What are the HORSE poker rules, and how to best prepare ourselves for those mixed games? You’ll find all the answers below in our Guide to playing HORSE Poker.

What Is HORSE Poker?

H.O.R.S.E. poker includes five games played one after the other in rounds. HORSE poker was created from the desire to play a more complicated variant of traditional poker. Many players were looking for an exciting challenge, and a mixed game like that was precisely that.

The game rose to fame during the $50,000 HORSE Championship at the World Series of Poker. The contest winner, Chip Reese, a fantastic poker player, showed many skills in the tournament, and for that reason, the trophy was named after him.

The H.O.R.S.E. acronym stands for:

  • Hold’em

  • Omaha Hi-Lo

  • Razz (7-Card Stud Low)

  • Stud (7-Card Stud High)

  • Eight-or-Better (7-Card Stud Hi-Low)

It is usually a game played by skilled players. HORSE poker is all about your skills and knowledge of different poker variants. It’s not suited for players who feel very confident in one or even two types of games but have little to no experience in the rest of them. Every variant of poker is played during the HORSE game unless a different rule is established at the table.

Horse Games

All five variants of poker in H.O.R.S.E differ from one another. As such, it’s good to learn about each game, especially if you haven’t played some of them before. Here’s a short summary of the main rules of all the mixed games played in HORSE tournaments.


Texas Hold’em Poker with Pocket AcesIn the popular Texas Hold’em, every player gets two cards. There are five open cards on the table, and it’s every player’s job to make the best 5-card hand. A player can use the two cards he was given and the five open for everybody. 

There are four variants of Hold’em, depending on the particular limit games: Limit Texas Hold’em, No-Limit Texas Hold’em, Pot Limit Texas Hold’em, and Mixed Limit Texas Hold’em. The game has a minimum of one and a maximum of four betting rounds. The player with the highest hand takes the pot, or in the case of two players having the highest hand, each of them gets half the pot.

Omaha Hi-Lo

Omaha has either a Limit or a Pot-Limit structure, and it’s never played as a No-Limit game. In this fixed-limit poker variant, every player gets four cards and uses at least two of them when making their hand. The pot goes to the player with the highest best hand (high) and the lowest best hand (low).

Omaha Hi-Lo is played with the 8-or-better rule, where the low winning hand has to be made out of five different cards of 8 or less. If there is no such hand, the whole pot goes to the player with the highest best hand.

Razz (Seven-Card Stud Low)

In this Seven-Card Stud poker game, the lowest possible hand is the winning one. The players are given seven cards, but the best (meaning the worst) 5-card hand wins the pot. In Razz, the Ace is always the lowest.

The best possible hand in this variant is called the wheel straight. It’s the lowest straight where the cards go A-2-3-4-5. If two players have the winning hands, it has to be a split-pot game.

Stud (Seven-Card Stud High)

Similar to Razz, in Stud, players also get seven cards. In this case, the best hand is the highest one. Stud is usually played in a Fixed-Limit format. Seven-Card Stud poker is considered one of the more challenging Fixed-Limit games and a pure variation of poker, where heightened attention to cards and good instincts are the key to winning.

Stud (Eight-Or-Better Hi-Low)

Eight-or-Better Stud has two possible winners – one with the highest hand and one with the lowest (lower than eight). In this variant, players also get seven cards and compose the best 5-card hand.

The player with the lowest card (on the bring-in position) opens the betting round. If there is no player with a hand lower than eight at the end of the game, the pot goes to the player with the highest hand.

It’s a good idea to learn about every variant of HORSE poker games. Of course, we presented only basic information, and there’s much more to these games. It’s best to use one of the guides to the specific variants and study them before entering any tournaments or starting to play HORSE online.

How Do You Play Horse Poker?

Greg MuellerPlaying such a complex game with many different poker variants requires excellent concentration and some skills. That doesn’t mean HORSE poker is unpopular. Many players don’t shy away from this challenge. 

Many HORSE tournaments are organized through online poker sites. It’s a quick and easy way to play with and challenge some of the best players in the world. But how to play HORSE poker?


The first thing to know is that every poker variant is played in rounds – one round for each game. Changes to that can be made only before the hand is dealt. The order of the variants stays the same throughout the whole game. It’s Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Lo, Razz, 7-Card Stud High, and 8-or-better at the end.

You’ll know that the game has changed if you look at the top of a table, where the card of the current game should be placed. You’ll be notified verbally by a dealer too, and if you play HORSE poker online, look for that information at the top of the table border.

Of course, you can tell that you play another game by how many cards you are dealt, but that might not work as much when it comes to the last three poker variants.


It’s rather a norm in H.O.R.S.E that each game is played in a Fixed Limit format. It means that there is one limit on every game established at the beginning. It might be disappointing for some players that enjoy playing with high stakes.

Still, this variant of poker is a game of skill that stays stimulating and rewarding for every player ambitious enough to learn about its twists and turns.

Worth Remembering

Something worth mentioning is that when the game switches to Razz, the button stays in the same spot, so when the game returns to Hold’em, the blinds are in the same spot.

HORSE Poker Rules

Similar to other games, there are some rules that all players should follow. What are they?

  • All players have to come to an agreement that games will be played in rotation.

  • Any changes to the rotation (removing or adding any game) have to be agreed upon by all players.

  • In standard HORSE poker, every game is played for the full round and in order, except in certain situations where some changes have been implemented before the first hand.

  • Every player should have a chance to be the dealer for the game being played.

  • If a particular game doesn’t have a dealer button, it is usually passed around the table to keep track of the number of hands played.

  • It is in good taste that every player plays every game variant and doesn’t avoid the other mixed game variants they may be unfamiliar with. It’s not a hard rule, but something to keep in mind when playing HORSE poker.

Strategy In Horse Poker

When entering live poker tournaments or playing online poker, it’s best to work out some strategies to increase your chances of winning. Of course, there is no one right way to play HORSE poker, and you can allow yourself to be more spontaneous with your moves as you gain more experience in different types of poker games.

You can do these things to help yourself win the game if you are a less experienced player.

Get Familiar With All The Variants

It’s the absolute minimum, but some people don’t do that. To be good at this game, you have to know the rules of each variant. As we said earlier, HORSE poker is heavily focused on players’ skills and proficiencies in all the variants.

Many players want to play a mixed game, counting on their mastery in one or two poker games and luck. That might not be the best way if you want to be good at this game.

You should know what hand is best to use at which game. For example, a wheel straight is just a medium-strong hand in a high-only game, while for hi-lo ones, it can be really powerful!

Study the Basics of Poker

Rely On Your Knowledge Of Poker

Even if you’re not a master of some variants, you can still count on the basics of poker. For example, if you want to bluff, make sure it is beneficial in your situation. Don’t make moves that appear well-thought-out but really aren’t.

Another thing that can help you is remembering that playing in a position is usually better than being out of position. These simple rules can help you find your way around those poker variants that are more difficult for you. The more confident you feel at poker, the better odds you have to play HORSE successfully.

Pay Attention To Other Players

We already established that many players don’t do their “homework”. You should pay attention to the weakest players in every variant and look for soft spots to show your skills. 

Some HORSE games are relatively well known, like Hold’em. Some can be more challenging, like Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo. Add to that the fact that many players are not well-versed in games with Limit versions. It all creates an opportunity for you to win in HORSE poker!

Leave The Best For Your Game

It’s no secret that you have the most significant chance of breaking the bank in the game you feel the most comfortable with. That’s why it is in your best interest to play the biggest pots at poker games that you know best and avoid playing in high-stakes games where you clearly are not proficient in. Know your opponents and know your strengths and weaknesses.

Where Can I Play Horse Poker?

The best places to play HORSE poker and other cash games are online casinos in online poker rooms. There are many benefits to that. You have access to various games (including Seven-Card Stud, Texas Hold'em, Omaha Poker, and more), you can connect with other players without even leaving the house, and you can safely operate with your finances.

Furthermore, online casinos are the best place for you if you’re looking for a whole range of cash games. For a change, you can play some slots, roulette, blackjack, baccarat, and many others.

HORSE Poker is not available on many sites, but you can still enjoy other variants of poker online tournaments at Natural8. Sign up for an account now and start playing with some of the best players in the world.