H.O.R.S.E. and Mixed Games

Doyle Brunson

With many poker players beginning to learn and enjoy variations of poker other than just Hold'em, mixed games are quickly becoming more common.

The high-stakes pros have been playing mixed games for years in Bobby's Room, the private glassed-off table in the middle of the Bellagio poker room in Las Vegas. Although players can play anything, the standard game in Bobby's Room is a $4,000/$8,000 seven-game Limit rotation.

The names of mixed games are typically acronyms formed from the poker variants in the rotation. The most commonly played mixed game is known as H.O.R.S.E. The letters stand for:


(Click on any of the above variants for its complete rules and game play)

Although the rules can change depending on the house rules, mixed games typically follow a standard set of conventions.


  1. All players must agree on the games to be played in the rotation before play commences.
  2. Any player looking to add or remove a game from the rotation must get agreement from all players at the table.
  3. In a tournament setting, the games in the rotation are set before the start of the first hand, and any change in the games rotation must be clearly stated before the first hand is dealt.
  4. Unless otherwise stated, each poker variant is played for one full rotation. Every player must have the chance to be the dealer for the game being played.
  5. In a game without a dealer button (such as Stud) the dealer button travels around the table as it would in Hold'em, only to keep track of the number of hands played.
  6. Typically there will be some form of sign to remind the players of the game currently being played.
  7. Although it's not explicitly against the rules to do otherwise, players are expected to play all variants. I.e. a player is not allowed to opt out of playing one variant or to cherry-pick their favorites.

Some mixed games function as a "dealer's choice." This format is most successful if the two following rules are instated:


  1. Only variants agreed upon by all players before the start of the game are acceptable.
  2. The chosen variant is played for one full orbit +1 hand.

Having the variant change every hand can make the game feel disjointed and lack flow. Players like the ability to get into a game and actually play a hand of the variation before it changes.

Since you will fold most of the hands you'll be dealt, if only one hand of a variant is dealt, players may lose interest in the game.

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