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H.O.R.S.E. poker separates the wheat from the chaff

In 2006 there was a great deal of talk and excitement about the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event at the World Series of Poker. Many spoke of it as the true test of a world championship poker player, and when it was won by Chip Reese, who many consider to be one of the best live players of all time, this idea gained a great deal of credibility. What exactly is H.O.R.S.E. though, how does it work and where can you play it? Well at least the last question is easy to answer: it is one of the new and upcoming popular poker games online.

Learn about H.O.R.S.E.

H.O.R.S.E. is not one poker game, but a mixed game, a combination of poker games. They are, respectively (H)old'em, (O)maha, usually Omaha hi low split, (R)azz, a seven card stud version of lowball, (S)tud, the traditional seven card stud, and (E)ight or better seven card stud high/low split. Sometimes Razz is left out of the mix, resulting in the game being called H.O.S.E. or S.H.O.E. All the games in H.O.R.S.E are played as fixed limit but at the final table at the WSOP they only played NLT because no limit is considered best for television.

The game originally came about at a time before the poker boom, when there was sometimes a shortage of good games. Players realized if they switched games every half hour or so, they could get more players in action at once, since everyone's favorite game would be played equally over the course of the evening.

Modern professionals like the game because it dulls the advantage of specialists. These days many professionals make their living playing only one type of game, and they know it better than most other players. Many high stakes professionals may want to play with these specialists because of the action they bring, but are reluctant to play them “on their own turf.” By regularly switching the games, everyone gets a chance to use their particular skills.

True Experts Know Many Formats

Many poker players feel that there is a difference between being a great poker player and just a great Texas Hold'em player. Because of the popularity of televised poker and the World Series main event in particular, players who have specialized in Holdem have enjoyed a coveted place among the poker elite, but long time professionals feel that unless you can play every type of poker well, you cannot truly be considered a poker expert. A game of H.O.R.S.E. separates the wheat from the chaff. If you are only good at one poker game, you will in all likelihood be eaten alive in this format. For instance a player like Jamie Gold who won the WSOP 2006 main event would do himself a big favor by staying away from H.O.R.S.E. since his most probably lacks the skills of a truly versatile player.

Of course, you don't have to be a high stakes professional to play H.O.R.S.E. This is a great way to play poker, and some online poker rooms has already H.O.R.S.E. on the menu, both as cash games and as tournaments. But be sure to read some poker site reviews so you can choose the room that suits your needs the best.

Just playing hand after hand of Texas Holdem or Omaha may get boring after awhile, especially for players who are used to the home games of old where wild cards and unusual rules were the order of the day. Playing H.O.R.S.E. by switching games after everyone has had one deal, or after a predetermined amount of time, can breathe new life into your poker playing adventures.

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