HORSE is a game in which five forms of poker are played in a rotating format. The H stands for Limit Texas Hold-Em and this is probably the most popular game being played in America right now. In Hold-Em each player is dealt two hole cards and there are five community cards in the center. The object of this game is to make the best 5 card hand using any of the cards in your hand or on the table.
The O stands for Omaha 8 or Better. Players in Omaha are dealt 4 hole cards and then they share 5 community cards. The tricky thing about this game is that 2 of the down cards must be used to make the best/worst 5 card hand. If you have 1 spade in your hand and there are 4 spades on the board, you don't have a flush. This is the part that confuses the heck out of me and the reason why I don't play.
Razz is the game that R stands for. This form of poker goes against every grain in my body simply because I grew up with Stud and Hold-em. The object has always been for me to win with the highest hand. Razz is a game of 7 card stud in which you aim for the lowest hand. The wheel (A-2-3-4-5) is the best hand and both flushes and straights don't count against you.
S is for Seven Card Stud, the game my father taught to me to play as a youngster. This game has been around forever and is one of the most demanding games because there are so many cards on the table. Players are dealt a total of 7 cards. Three of these are face down and the other four are face up. There are no community cards in this game. The goal is to have the highest hand at the table using 5 of the 7 cards.
The E and final game to round out this event is Stud Eight or Better. This game utilizes a split pot in which the low hand wins half the pot by using the 5 lowest cards in his hand and the high hand wins the other half of the pot by forming the best hand.
It might have been handy to have this little guide last year when I was sitting in the audience at the Final Table of the 50k HORSE Event, but honestly, it didn't really matter because the Final Table was strictly No-Limit Texas Hold-Em. HORSE ended when they were down to the last 9 players. This was a big surprise to most.
After talking the floor staff management this year I was assured that this year things will be different. Instead of 1 hour levels like last year, each game will be played for 30 minutes and then they will rotate. Blinds will increase every hour during flop games and every hour and a half during stud games. Players will begin with $100,000 in tournament chips as opposed to $50,000 like last year and all games will be played as limit games.
Last year the game started amidst a flurry of controversy when Andy Bloch found marked cards, and all decks were eventually replaced. There were a total of 143 players in 2006, and so far this year the official count is at 24. As is the case with all of the events, a satellite can be played to earn an entry into the official event, and there should be a flood of top pros buying in over the next twenty-four hours.
For the past few days, mega satellites have been running for the 50k HORSEEvent. The buy-in is $2,175 and there is a $75 entry fee. They are starting daily at 5p.m. and as of Friday night at 9 p.m. they have given away 2 seats. Saturday is your last chance to qualify via satellite.
If last year's event is any indication of things to come, we can expect a star studded game. I refused to put my camera away last year as I frantically tried to snap pictures of Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivey, Andy Bloch, Barry Greenstein, and Patrik Antonius. Of course they were all blurry, but that didn't stop me from trying.
Chip Reese ended up taking home the bracelet and the $1,784,640 cash prize. If I was a betting woman, and I am, I would watch for Phil Ivey this year since he's already taken 4th place in the 5K Horse Event and he placed 3rd last year in the 50K.
If the iron curtain permits, I will be up against the rail, watching from the Milwaukee's Best No-Limit Lounge this year and hopefully cheering Phil Ivey on to victory.