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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

Pokerstars adds HORSE to lineup

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Fueled by the biggest buy-in event ever at the World Series of Poker (even more than Daniel Negreanu spent in the $1,000 rebuy event), interest in HORSE has grown immeasurably over the summer. Riding the wave of HORSE interest, online site Pokerstars has added the game to their standard offerings. According to card room manager Lee Jones, PokerStars had in fact planned to add HORSE to their list of games for a while, announcing it as part of their upcoming World Championship of Online Poker for 2006.

HORSE is a limit mixed game, where Hold ‘Em, Omaha Hi/LO, Razz, Stud and Stud Hi/Lo are played in rotation, with one orbit of each game, then a switch to the next game in the list. Available for some time in tournaments and Sit n' Gos on FullTilt Poker , HORSE is now also available in ring game formats for all bankroll levels on PokerStars, from the lowest limits all the way up to $10/20 for now. PokerStars also offers HOSE (no Razz in this variant) tourneys and ring games for the Razz-haters out there. When asked about the decision to offer mixed ring games, Jones says "We didn't want to offer something that was available "only" in a tournament format, only in a cash format, or whatever. If we offer a game, we want our players to have it in all possible forms (cash, sit-and-go, multi-table tournament)."

Little explanation is needed for Hold ‘Em, but a quick primer on the other games may be helpful to the newest of players. Omaha Hi/Lo is a flop game similar to Hold ‘Em where each player receives four hole cards rather than two. The best hand then must consist of exactly two cards from the player's hand and three from the five community cards. In Hi/Lo, an 8 qualifier is used, meaning for a player to have a qualifying low hand; they must have five non-paired cards 8 or lower. The best possible low hand is A-2-3-4-5, also called a Wheel. A player may win the high pot, the low pot, or may scoop both halves of the pot if they hold the best high and the best low hand. Omaha is played with blinds identical to that in Hold ‘Em.

Seven Card Stud
is the basis for the other three games, and is one of the oldest types of poker still prevalent. Each player is dealt two cards face down, then one card face up. The player with the worst card up (door card) has a forced bet of ½ the small bet for the game, called the bring in. Other players have the option to call, fold or complete the bet to a full bet. Each player is then dealt three more cards up, with a betting round after each card, and a final card down. The best five card poker hand wins.

Razz is Seven-Stud Lowball, with no qualifier. The worst hand wins, but straights and flushes do not count against you. As in Omaha Hi/Lo (often called Omaha 8, or O8), the wheel (A-2-3-4-5) is the best possible hand. In Razz the highest door card is forced to open the bet, as that is the worst beginning hand showing.

Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo (or Stud Eight) is another split-pot game similar to Omaha, where the pot can be split between a high hand and a low hand. Just like in O8, a qualifying low hand must have five cards 8 or lower, and the wheel is the best possible low. Straights and flushes also do not count against a player in Stud 8. All stud games are played as ante games, with an ante being typically 10% of the big bet for the game.

When switching from flop games with blinds to stud games with antes, there is the potential for a player to come in partway through an orbit and miss their blind, since they weren't at the table for those games. Pokerstars has this well thought-out, and players who join a table during a stud game will be forced to post or wait for their big blind when the Hold ‘Em portion comes around. The button stops moving during the stud games to keep the blinds fair.

In other exciting news for mixed game players, PokerStars is working on a draw interface, which will allow them to offer five-card draw, 2-7 triple draw and other draw variants. According to Jones "We may not be the first to the market with a new product, but when we get there, we work very hard to ensure that we have the best-of-breed offering. I believe you'll think our draw games are the best, too."

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