Did you know that the first World Series of Poker champion, Johnny Moss, was selected by his peers based on his performance throughout a gauntlet of poker games? These days Texas Hold’em is most players’ game of choice, and it certainly gets the lion’s share of poker publicity, but many of the old pros still consider mixed poker games like HORSE to be the truest test of a player’s skills.
What are mixed poker games? As the term implies, mixed poker games are a combination of different poker variations – generally Texas Hold’em and some form of stud, though Omaha is also often in the mix, and even draw occasionally makes an appearance. HORSE is easily the most common mixed poker game. HORSE is comprised of: Texas Hold’em, Omaha Eights or Better, Razz, Seven Card Stud, and Seven Card Stud Eights or Better. SHOE/HOSE is also frequently featured in online poker rooms and includes: Seven Card Stud, Texas Hold’em, Omaha and Seven Card Stud Eights or Better. In 2010, the WSOP introduced a new event called the Poker Player’s Championship. This event combined a whopping eight different poker variations: 2-7 Triple Draw, Texas Hold’em, Omaha Eights or Better, Razz, Stud, Stud Eights or Better, No Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Hold’em.
The rules for mixed poker games incorporate the traditional rules for each variation. When it comes to playing and winning such an event, the rules for mixed poker games are also pretty straightforward. Each game in the event is played as a full round. When all the rounds have been completed, the player with the largest stack wins.
Knowing how to play mixed games benefits a serious poker player in many ways. For one, many players that approach a HORSE table are strongest at Hold’em. This gives a strong Stud player an obvious advantage. Likewise, learning to play several different poker games well not only makes you a good mixed game player but will give you more opportunities in regards to ring games and tournaments. Since every player has their strengths and weaknesses, it’s important to not only develop strategies for each of the variations incorporated in your mixed game of choice, but to have an overall strategy that considers those strengths and weaknesses. For example, since the Hold’em round is generally the most competitive, you might consider playing it tight and moving into a more aggressive position in softer rounds like Razz.