HORSE is actually an acronym describing a combination of five poker games:
HORSE is one of many popular mixed game variants. In large cash games in brick-and-mortar casinos, the players often agree to play a mix of poker games rather than a single game. This reduces the edge that a single-game specialist has, and emphasizes a player's breadth across multiple versions of poker. Many people feel that HORSE and other mixed games are the best judge of a player's true poker ability. It’s also part of WCOOP, the World Championship of Online Poker, held annually on PokerStars.
HORSE is played as one ‘round’ of each of its component games. It begins with Fixed Limit Hold'em, then rotates through Fixed Limit Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz (Seven Card Stud Low), Seven Card Stud (High Only), and finally Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo. When the Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo round is complete, the game goes back to Fixed Limit Hold'em, and so on. You can tell which game is being dealt by looking at the top border of the table window.
When switching from Omaha Hi/Lo to Razz, the button is frozen. That way, when the game switches back to Hold'em (after Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo), nobody skips blinds, or pays extra blinds.
All the component games in HORSE are played Fixed Limit - there are no Pot Limit or No Limit games. The limits (such as $5/$10) are kept the same throughout the entire game rotation, and you play $5/$10 Fixed Limit Hold'em, then $5/$10 Fixed Limit Omaha Hi/Lo, etc.
Playing HORSE is a great way to develop expertise in multiple games, and break up the monotony of playing a single game throughout a session. We encourage you to get comfortable with each of the component games first so you'll know what's going on, and then jump right into the HORSE games.
If you are unfamiliar with HORSE, we recommend you try the game for free first to get a feel for how it’s played. You are always welcome to play on our free poker tables at PokerStars, and sharpen your skills before playing real money poker.
Finally, if you like to play other Mixed Game variants, we recommend you check out our Hold’em/Omaha games, or 8-Game Mix. These games are a nice change of pace from the popular Texas Hold’em, and they are also available in our poker tournaments selection.
As well as HORSE, we also offer many other poker variants. See our Poker Games page to learn more.