The game of H.O.R.S.E. was developed and introduced at the 2002 World Series of Poker for high stakes players. During the original event, a $2,000 buy in was required and the event was won by John Hennigan, who walked away with $117,320 in prize money. H.O.R.S.E. is one variety of multi game poker that consists of 5 different variations of poker played in a row. HORSE is a favorite of the multiple game formats with other types simply additions or subtractions of different poker games. For example, HOSE removes the Razz game and CHORSE includes an additional game - Crazy Pineapple. The largest game variety currently played is THORSEHA - which includes all of the games in HORSE while adding Deuce to Seven Triple Draw, No Limit Texas Holdem and Pot Limit Omaha.

Horse Rules

The games included in HORSE are as follows:

H - Texas Holdem (deriving the letter from the first letter in Holdem)
O - Omaha (8s or better)
R - Razz
S - 7 Card Stud (deriving the letter from the S in Stud)
E - 7 Card Stud Eights or Higher (deriving the letter from the E in Eight)

The rules used in HORSE do not deviate from the standard rules involved in each individual game. In this way, the challenge of playing the format is derived mainly from knowledge and experience of each individual game rather than the format as a whole. As a general rules, each of the games in HORSE are played as limit games. Although the name implies that Texas Holdem is played first, many tournament structures end the games with Texas Holdem, often played at No Limit. In order to win a HORSE tournament, players do not necessarily have to be successful in each game. Instead, the chip leader after the tournament has concluded is the winner.

How to Play Horse

There are two different varieties of structures in which HORSE is played - switching games each round or through a time limit. By far, round play is more common in online HORSE play. Each round consists of a separate game, starting with either Texas Holdem or Omaha, depending on the individual poker site rules. In ring games, HORSE games typically switch each time the dealer button comes back to the player from which it started with the game variety. However, common in HORSE tournaments is a game variety switch each time that the blinds increase during the game.

Horse Strategy

Strategy in HORSE is mainly dependent on individual game strategy, which can and should change from game to game. Players often try to recognize their opponents weaknesses during each game variety and exploit them to win pots. This is primarily why it is important to have an understanding of each game variety before attempting to play at a HORSE table. Although many beginning poker players consider HORSE to be an excellent opportunity to learn multiple poker varieties in a short amount of time, the short amount of time during which each game variety is played makes it difficult to learn each variety.

As would be expected, higher stakes HORSE games typically host more experienced and skilled players while low stakes games are often popular with beginning to moderately skilled players. Most experienced HORSE poker players will recommend aggressive play style in HORSE with frequent bets and raises. This is because many players will be weaker at some varieties and play much tighter when they come to a variety in which they are less experienced and stronger players can shrink the table or win large amounts of small pots to prepare for later play.