In continuation of HORSE Tournament Part 1.
H.O.R.S.E. is a style of tournament play in which the rules change after each hand, the order of which is determined by the letters of the H.O.R.S.E. acronym. H stands for Texas Hold’em, O is for Omaha Hold’em and R is for razz. The fourth round in a game of H.O.R.S.E. is the S, signifying seven-card stud.
Seven card stud has a very different layout than Texas or Omaha Hold’em, and is the template on which razz is played as well. Seven-card stud is not razz, however, and the high hand takes the pot rather than the low hand. Each player is dealt three cards in seven-card stud. Two of these cards are face down, as in Texas Hold’em, but the third card (or door card) is laid face up on top on the player’s cards. The player with the lowest showing door card must bet an ante, called the “bring in.” The player to the bring in’s left then has the option to fold, check, bet small or bet big.
Seven-card stud also normally utilizes a limit betting system, meaning that a player can only bet and raise set amounts. The small bet is half the big bet, and the ante is ten percent of the big bet. Also, a player can only raise up to four times the big bet in one round of betting. For example, if a player raises big and then is raised big by an opponent, he or she may fold, call or bet. If the player raises big again and an opponent raises big yet another time, than the remaining players may only call or fold, as the cap limit has been reached.
After the first round of betting, another card is dealt face up to each player, called “fourth street.” In this and each subsequent round of betting the bring in is determined by the highest showing cards. Fifth street is also dealt face up, as well as sixth street. Seventh street is dealt face down to each player and the final round of betting ensues, followed by the showdown and declaration of a winner. If there are eight players in the pot all the way down to seventh street, a 52-card deck will not suffice. If this is the case, it is acceptable to play seventh street as one card face up in the middle of the table. This card is treated as a communal card and is played as each player’s seventh card. The best five-card hand is the winner.
The E in H.O.R.S.E. is a creative abbreviation of high/low split Eight or better. This game is sometimes called eight-card stud as it uses the same layout as seven-card stud, but with a twist. Both the highest and the lowest hand are declared winners in this game and the pot is split between the two hands. It is possible for a player to win the entirety of a pot if he or she possesses the highest and the lowest hand of the remaining players, which is entirely possible when you have seven cards to choose from. After this final round in the acronym, play starts over again with Texas Hold’em.
The trick to winning a H.O.R.S.E. tournament is knowing your strengths and playing to them. Don’t bet big in games you don’t quite understand, but play when you can to try and feel them out. Focus, but stay adaptive in your style of play. Getting bogged down in one strategic method can have negative effects when the rules are constantly changing. All things considered, H.O.R.S.E is a game that will keep multiple players entertained and challenged for hours.