How to Play HORSE Poker – H.O.R.S.E. Rules

HORSE Poker is a popular format of poker that incorporates a variety of poker games. This is referred to as a rotational format. The name HORSE is an acronym that stands for Holdem, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Seven Card Stud and Seven Card Stud Hi Lo. The E stands for Eight or Better, which is another name for 7 Card Stud Hi Lo. In any type of rotational format, it is crucial that players are familiar with the rules and basic strategic concepts of each of the games that are included in this specific online poker rotation.


Each game will complete an entire round before the game switches. An entire round consists of the dealer position making a complete rotation around the table. In other words, if there are nine people at the table, there will be nine hands of each game before it switches.

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Texas Holdem is probably the most popular format in the rotation. Players will use blinds – a small and a big. Each player receives two hole cards. This game uses a flop, turn and river format in reference to the community cards. There are four betting rounds. There is a betting round in the beginning, one in between each of the community phases and one final round.

The flop consists of three community cards and the turn and river is one card a piece. In total, players will use the five community cards along with their two hole cards to make the highest five-card poker hand possible. The hand ranking used is the common standard ranking structure. The high card is the lowest hand. The highest hand is a Royal Flush.

Omaha Hi/Lo

Omaha Hi/Lo has kind of put 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo on the back burner a bit. This format is increasingly popular and is very similar to Texas Holdem. The objective of Omaha Hi/Lo is take the entire pot. However, there is a high end and a low end to the pot, hence the Hi/Lo.

Each player is dealt four hole cards. The community cards and the betting rounds function identically to Texas Holdem. The major difference between the two is the amount of hole cards and how you must formulate your hand.

In Omaha Hi/Lo you have to use two of your hole cards and three of the five community cards to make your hand. There are no exceptions – this is the combination of cards that MUST be used. The high end of the pot is based on having the highest hand within the same ranking structure used in Texas Holdem.

The low end is slightly different and the low hand must qualify. In order to qualify, the five-card hand cannot contain anything higher than an eight. It is very possible to take the entire pot by having the best low hand and high hand. Straights or flushes have no impact on the low value. In other words, A-2-3-4-5 (also known as the wheel hand) is a 5-high low hand and also is a 5-high straight.

If there is not a qualifying low hand, the high hand takes the entire pot. Most players recommend strategically that you should not be in the hand if you’re not certain that you’ll take at least one end of the pot. A lot of players will not even play a starting hand that doesn’t have an Ace in Omaha Hi/Lo.


Razz is basically 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo without the high side and without the eight or lower limitation. Straights or flushes have no impact and therefore the wheel hand is the best hand in Razz.

Each player receives two hole cards and one face-up. In Razz and most stud games, the dealt cards are referred to as streets and there are no community cards. There are 7 streets in Razz with a betting round in between 3rd and 4th, 4th and 5th, 5th and 6th, and 6th and 7th followed by a final round after 7th. In total, there are 5 betting rounds.

4th, 5th and 6th street are exposed to all players and 7th street is another hole card. In stud games, being an observant player is very helpful. There are many exposed cards between you and your opponents and it is important to remember which cards have been played. This helps in realizing if your draws are dead or not.

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7 Card Stud

The deal and the action is exactly the same as in Razz. The winning hand, however, is completely opposite. In 7 Card Stud, the highest hand wins the pot. The hand ranking is identical to Omaha Hi and Texas Holdem.

In 7 Card Stud each player receives three hole cards and has four exposed cards at the end of the hand. They are referred to as streets and are dealt the same as in Razz – two face down, one face-up, three face-up (one at a time) and a final card face down.

7 Card Stud Hi Lo

The hand ranking for 7 Card Stud Hi Lo is identical to Omaha Hi/Lo. The deal is identical to 7 Card Stud and Razz. The betting is also the same as 7 Card Stud and Razz. Just like in Omaha Hi/Lo, there are two ends to the pot. There is a high end and a low end. If there is no qualifying low hand, the high hand wins the entire pot.

In HORSE Poker, players must remember the rules and strategies for each game and adjust quickly. Some players may struggle with the shift in hand selection, position and strategy. Practice playing each format until you are comfortable with each before you attempt to get in a high stakes rotational style game such as HORSE Poker. Keep in mind that normal poker concepts still apply to all of the games in the rotation. Position, hand selection and pot odds are a few of these generic concepts.