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  • H.O.R.S.E Poker Strategy For Tournaments

    In a HORSE poker tournament, players will take on five of the most popular poker games in a mixed format. The tournament will start with Texas Hold’em and then rotate to Omaha Hi Lo, Razz poker, Seven Card Stud and Seven Card Stud Hi Lo. The most common way for a HORSE tournament to work is that every time the blinds change so does the game being played. In order to be successful at a HORSE tournament, you need to be able to play well at each type of game and quickly shift gears as the blinds increase and the games change.

    Early tournament strategy

    At the beginning of a HORSE tournament you can take more risks than usual without worrying too much about the size of your stack. Keep this as a situational strategy though; for the most part you should only be taking shots when all the conditions are right. Generally try and play a tight game and try to scoop pots. At this point in the tournament the levels are low enough that if you take a shot and lose, you can probably recover before the blinds get to high, but again do this only when the situation is right, there is no reason to risk a lot of chips on an uncertain Hi Lo hand. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at strategy for each game.

    Texas Hold’em: This will be the first game you play and it will be at the lowest blind level. Playing tight and waiting for great premium hands is a good idea but if you see a situation where playing a less than premium hand would work go for it. Use the initial Hold’em round to familiarize yourself with your opposition and take chips when a good situation arises.

    Omaha Hi Lo: The best strategy here is to play pretty tight and look to scoop the pot. Later on you will adapt a more loose and aggressive strategy, but for now, play premium starting hands and look to make a big score.

    Razz Poker: Play this similar to Hold’em in the early rounds, trying to find weaknesses but build your chip stack. By this point you might want to start playing a little more aggressively and be trying to change up the playing style you have put out for the first two rounds.

    Seven Card Stud: Stick to solid fundamental Stud play in the early rounds of the tournament. If the tournament for some reason by this point has already taken quite the turn in terms of players and chip stacks, then begin to play more aggressively and keep opponents guessing

    Seven Card Stud Hi Lo: At this point in the tournament there are starting to become noticeable disparities in chip counts and you need to be careful. If you find many pots are being contested for multi way, then stick to fundamental Hi Lo strategies and play premium hands trying to scoop the pot. If things have gotten tight and many pots are heads up however, begin to play more high hands and take the smaller pots.

    As the tournament goes into the later rounds you generally will need to adapt a more aggressive strategy. You won’t be able to sit around and wait for the premium hands to come. This is especially true with Seven Card Stud. You need to see this as if you were playing a high limit game with a high ante, you can’t wait around for premium hands, you have to make things happen. Another important consideration is that when the Seven Card Stud Hi Lo game comes around you may need to significantly alter your strategy. More pots will be contested for in a heads up manner and your high hands will become significantly stronger. Hands that weren’t playable during the early rounds of the tournament will become your savior in the later rounds.