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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

H.O.R.S.E Tournaments Show Other Sides of Poker

28 November 2008

To most gamblers these days, poker means No-Limit Texas Hold'em and that's it. Many poker players who have learned the game in the last five years don't even know there is any other kind of poker out there.

Well, before No-Limit Hold'em became the rage that it is now, there were lots of other poker forms being played in public card rooms. The $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E tournament at the World Series of Poker combines five of those games together in one tournament. The winner of that is considered to be the best all-around poker athlete in the world.

Last month, the new Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana held its own smaller version H.O.R.S.E tournament, a $345 buy-in event. The five games of H.O.R.S.E. are:

Hold'em (limit style)
Omaha Hi/Lo Split
Razz (7 stud lowball)
Seven Card Stud
Eight-or-better 7 Stud Hi/Lo

In a game of H.O.R.S.E, eight hands of each game are dealt before switching to the next game. This gives poker players the chance to apply their skills at a full range of different poker forms.

Ever since the big $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. tournament was held in Las Vegas, side games of H.O.R.S.E. have been popping up at local poker rooms. This gets all those new Hold'em players indoctrinated into other kinds of poker. Here's a rundown of how each H.O.R.S.E game is played.

Hold'em It's regular Hold'em with limit-style betting. If this particular H.O.R.S.E. game were $10/$20 stakes, for example, then the Hold'em segment would be $5/$10 blinds with $10/$20 bets. You bet $10 pre-flop and on the flop, then $20 on the turn and the river.

Omaha Hi/Lo It's also $5/$10 blinds with $10/$20 bets, except Omaha has four hole-cards rather than two. Using any two cards from the hand with any three from the board, the best high hand splits the pot with the best low hand. It takes at least an 8 low or lower to qualify for the low half, and the best possible low would be A/2/3/4/5, known as a "wheel". Often in Omaha Hi/Lo, a wheel will win the whole pot, since it's actually a perfect low and a 5-high straight at the same time.

Razz It's dealt like standard 7 Card Stud. Players ante $1 and get their own cards, starting with two down and one up. The bets in the early part of the hand are $10, and from the fifth card on all bets and raises are $20. At the end, everybody has three down and four up, but in Razz, only the best low hand wins the pot. Again, the best possible low is A/2/3/4/5. High hands such a 7-high straight or an 8-high flush still count for low, since in Razz, high hands are totally ignored.

Stud This is straight 7 Card Stud in the old traditional way. Everybody antes $1 and is dealt two down and one up, then gets one card at a time, finishing with three down and four up. The betting rules are the same as in Razz, but here, the best high poker hand wins the whole pot.

Eight-or-Better Stud It's dealt just like regular 7 Card Stud, except it's Hi/Lo Split. The best high hand splits the pot with the best low hand, providing the low has at least an 8 low or lower. If not, the high hand wins the whole pot.

The three Stud segments of H.O.R.S.E. bring an extra element of skill into play, since remembering folded cards can be key in determining your chances to make a given hand. Taking each player's exposed cards into account can also be vital in "reading" what your opponents may have. If you can book a winner in an open H.O.R.S.E. game, you can call yourself an all-around accomplished poker player.

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

> More Books By Fred Renzey