Mixed Game Strategy: Basic HORSE Strategy

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January 04 2010

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"Basic HORSE Strategy"
January 04, 2010

Looking to learn how to play H.O.R.S.E.? You are not alone. Players around the world are beginning to turn their attention away from No Limit Texas Hold’em and towards mixed games as an alternate or even exclusive source of poker revenue. If you are new to the game, here are a few strategy tips to help you while you are learning the game.

Out of the five games, most of the players will consider Hold’em to be their most skillful game. As a result you want to stick with a tight strategy in Hold’em. Patience pays off in Limit Hold’em. Pairs from tens and up and ace-king are your premium hands here and are you solid raising hands. Hands outside of the top hands should be played according to position. Don't play suited connectors and face cards too liberally. In No Limit, when you play these types of hands, you can stack someone when you hit big but in Limit, you may win a pot but in the long run lose a lot more than you will win.

In Omaha Hi-Lo, you are looking for hands that give you the best chance to scoop the pot.  Your best hands include an ace, a deuce, and at least one other card five and under. If one of those cards are suited with your ace, even better. Omaha-Eight is a drawing game, and you need to be going for the nut draw when you are in a hand. Going for the second and third nuts will bleed off your chips.

The three stud variants will offer many players excellent opportunities to pick up chips over the flop based games. Razz is easily the most frustrating game but also the one where you can pick up a lot of chips by playing a relatively solid strategy. One term you want to be aware of early on is “board locked”. When you have an opponent board locked in Razz, that means that your hand cannot lose regardless of what their best possible draw is. Being able to recognize that your opponent is drawing to a 7-6 low at best when you hold a 7-5 low will allow you to potentially give a free card to collect extra bets.

Three baby cards under eight are prime starting hands, with A-2-3 being the best starting hand. Beware of hands like A-7-8, as while it’s a solid starting hand, you may need to fold if the action gets heavy against multiple players. While you are still picking up the game, stay away from hands such as 9-A-2, J-A-2, etc. When you come in with a high card, you are telegraphing your low cards and if you miss, you will have to fold anyway. Pick a better hand.

In Seven Card Stud, you want to start off with either big pairs or buried pairs. Small buried pairs play best in a multi-way pot to no raise. The purpose is to hit trips. If you don't hit trips by fifth and an opponent is showing strength, it is time to go. When playing a large pair other than aces, be aware of your position to make sure an overpair may not be likely. There is nothing worse than raising with a queen and having a later position player re-raise you with a king or ace showing. In Stud, your position is relative to the player in seat one.

On rare occasions you will receive a “rolled up” hand, or three-of-a-kind on third street. In Stud, this is a prime slow-playing hand on third street. If you re-raise with a five after a queen raised, you are telegraphing that you have queens beat. This will usually convince the better players to fold. After third, play slow or fast depending on the strength of your set and the developing boards. Also, realise that a reasonable percentage of the time, when a player pairs their door card, meaning the upcard on third street, they have made trips. In many cases, it is time to abandon the hand.

Stay away from playing most lower straight and flush draws. Higher straight and flush draws that include face cards or an ace are much better. This is because if you miss your draw but catch a high pair or even two pair, you may still take down the hand.

One way to bleed off chips in Stud-Eight or better is to play big pairs other than aces on a regular basis. When you start with a big pair, such as queens, you are committing yourself to only half of the pot. Even if you start with a pair and a baby card, you must catch all cards perfect to make a low. Big pairs are best played in heads-up pots, or as a steal of antes. Next, stay away from most non-scooping eight-low draws. A hand such as 8-5-2 rainbow looks enticing, but many times will wind up behind.

Unlike Stud high, in Stud-Eight, you want to play your rolled up sets fast. Since many pots will be multi-way, a rolled up set is not as safe to scoop a pot. You want to make the players pay to try and outdraw you.

The above strategy hints are just the tip of the iceberg of what is available on the game. In order to become a successful H.O.R.S.E. player, you need to be proficient in all variants in the game. The tips in this article should help get you on your way, but in order to improve, you need to log in the time at the online poker tables. Good luck!

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