Updated In June, 2013 - The mixed game poker phenomenon is taking over the world. First it was HORSE, then HOSE, then HA… You’ll find some pretty crazy mixed game formats available both online and live nowadays. Although the games are already pretty wild, Pokerstars has gone ahead and upped the ante when it comes to mixed-game craziness; They now spread something called “8 game (THORSEHA) poker” across all limits.
Say it 10 times fast: THORSEHA… THORSEHA… THORSEHA… Bet you can’t. It’s a crazy name- a crazy name for a crazy game. Most people see 8 game poker as complete and total chaos. I’d tend to agree, if you look at it as being made up of 8 individual games. That’s why if you want to master 8 game poker, you should learn to look at the games not individually, but in “blocks” of similar poker variants. Mastering one single block in 8 game poker will give you the edge you need to crush your opponents.
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Grouping the games into blocks of similar variants will allow you to truly become an expert at a particular form of poker. This will give you a huge edge over 8 game poker players trying to master all 8. You’ve probably heard the saying: “A jack of all trades is a master of none.” It’s true, and in poker, you don’t win money by using a mediocre strategy. You’ve got to hone in on the form of poker you think you can dominate, and exploit your opponents weaknesses in that particular form.
Trying to master all 8 games will just drive you nuts. Even the top pros would agree that it just isn’t possible to dominate all of them. It’s best to divide the forms of poker into the blocks I’ve been talking about, and master your favorite. Here are the blocks of 8 game poker variants.
8 Game Poker Blocks: Stud
The Stud variants in 8 game poker are 7 Card Stud (Hi), Razz, and Stud Hi-Lo. They’re all slight variations of the exact same game. The only difference lies in the type of 5-card poker hand you’re aiming to make to win pots; high, low, or either. If you know how to play solid Stud, you can apply your knowledge to every single variation of the game. Adjusting your strategy to the different forms is easy.
Mastery of the Stud block will give you a huge advantage over most 8 game players, especially online. Frankly, most online players suck at Stud. Think about it- the majority of online players were attracted to the game by Holdem tournaments on television. Holdem is by far the most popular game online. Online players simply don’t bother with learning to play Stud poker properly.
Once you master the Stud block, you’ve got to apply your skills to 8 game poker in two ways: First, you must play technically solid Stud, and second, you must focus on exploiting your opponent’s poor Stud strategy as much as possible. If you run into a player who plays weak starting hands, exploit him by ramping up your 3rd street aggression. If you run into a player who plays weak lows in Razz, you’ve got to let him know who’s boss by showing up with the best hand.
Becoming a master of the Stud block means you’re going to have to play cautiously in the Holdem and Draw games. Obviously you want to still play a technically sound game in both variants, but there’s no need to try and get tricky. Let the other donks take care of that- your sole purpose in 8 game poker should be to truly dominate the Stud variants. That’s your moneymaker.
8 Game Poker Blocks: Holdem
The Holdem variants in 8 game poker are Limit Omaha Hi-Lo, Pot Limit Omaha Hi, Limit Holdem, and No Limit Holdem. Yes, Omaha is a variant of Holdem, and both are included in this block for a very good reason: dominating both gives you an advantage not only against Stud and Draw players, but against Holdem or Omaha specialists as well.
Most players sitting down for a round of 8 game poker will have exactly one strong game. No more, no less. The Holdem players will be good at Holdem. They will think they’re good at Omaha, but in reality, they’ll be pretty bad. It’s the same idea with the Omaha specialists- they’ll think they’re Holdem experts, but in reality, they will suck at Holdem.
Focusing on dominating both forms of poker will give you a huge edge against many players at the table. You can crush Stud experts, Draw experts, and depending on a player’s specialty, Omaha and Holdem experts as well. It’s true that both Holdem and Omaha are based on the same game structure, but there are subtle strategic differences between the two games. Most specialists in Holdem ignore the intricacies of Omaha, and most Omaha specialists ignore the intricacies of Holdem. Learning the nuances of both Holdem and Omaha will allow you to absolutely crush the majority of players at your 8 game table.
8 Game Holdem Blocks: 2-7 Triple Draw
Standing all by its lonesome, without any similar variants to group with, is Limit 2-7 Triple Draw. It’s almost not even worth the effort to master 2-7, unless you’ve already mastered another block of games. 2-7 Draw makes up 1/8th of the games in 8 game poker. Think about it- 1/8th of your time in an 8 game poker match will be spent playing 2-7 draw. Can you make enough profit in such a short span of time? Wouldn’t you rather dominate a block that sees more significant table time?
You should learn how to play a solid 2-7 Triple Draw game, but unless you’ve already mastered either the Holdem block or the Stud block, you shouldn’t spend too much time on it. Being able to dominate a larger group of games is more important than being a specialist at only one.