8-Game Mix: Rules & Strategy Guide
Do you want to play against bad poker players who don't even know the rules of the game(s) they're playing? It's time to give 8-Game a try. During the golden days of online poker it was easier to win playing Texas Hold’em if you knew the rules, hand rankings and some very rudimentary strategy. Very rudimentary. Today, things are different. More players are solid and make fewer mistakes in Hold’em. Even in Pot-Limit Omaha you're lucky to find a really bad player. But it is still possible to find poker games (and plenty of them) where you don’t have to sit with a HUD, battle math geniuses or analyze your hands for hours. And you can still have a ton of fun and earn a bit of money.
What is 8-Game Mixed Poker?
As the name suggests, in 8-Game you play 8 different poker variations. If you can understand the rules and the basic strategy for all of them, you're already better than most of your opponents at the lower stakes. Especially during tournament series like the PokerStars Micro Millions, you'll find a lot of really soft players just poking around in 8-Game for fun.
You might come up against some strong players but remember -- they aren't using tracking software to the same extent as in Hold’em or Omaha. This makes 8-Game a more fun and fair game, too. As an additional plus you'll also learn to master more variations of poker, which will develop you as a poker player, too. What's not to like?
Currently PokerStars is the only online poker site that offers 8-Game. Tournament fields are, of course, not as big as they are in Hold’em and Omaha but are still reasonably big compared to other smaller poker games - probably because 8-Game is really fun with a lot of action. 8-Game is a mixed game with 6 players at the table. The game changes according to a fixed rotation of:
- 2-7 Triple Draw
- Limit Hold’em
- Omaha Hi-Lo
- Seven Card Stud
- Stud Hi-Lo
- No-Limit Texas Hold’em
- Pot-Limit Omaha
When you play online tournaments the game changes after a certain time interval; in live tournaments the game usually changes after an orbit.
Basic 8-Game Strategy for Beginners
It's pretty simple: Learn the rules and the basic strategy for all eight poker games. If you do, you're already better than most of your opponents. At the lower stakes you'll find many opponents who are good at one or two games but really suck at the other games. They overplay bad hands a lot, or it may be something as simple as not keeping track of the rules -- e.g. an ace is a low card in Razz but not in 2-7 Triple Draw. If you're fairly new to some of these games they will require your full focus so we recommend not playing too many tables at the same time. Instead, allow yourself to play more hands.
Identify Weak Players in Weak Games
It's generally a good idea to play tight and only play your strong holdings (as in most other games). However, if you've identified a player with a weakness in one game, you can call with weaker hands and hope to hit big later in the hand. This is especially the case in games like Stud, Razz and 2-7 Triple Draw where you have a good indication of your opponent’s holding. Most of the games are Limit games, which makes it difficult to bluff. You'll be called down in many situations when trying out a three-barrel bluff in e.g. 2-7 Triple Draw.
Go ahead and bet with your strong hands (but maybe not in No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha as you will scare away your opponents) as your opponents will very often call with weaker holdings. In games like Stud and Razz where you can see your opponent’s door cards, it's generally good to bet when you have better door cards. This also means that your opponents rarely bluff. If you're in a hand where you can see that you're unlikely to end up with something big, it's better to fold than see another card.
Play Solid in NLHE, PLO
It's important to be a good player in all the games but it's crucial that you are a solid player in No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha. These are the games where most chips exchange hands because of the larger bets and you can lose everything with a few bad calls. Again, play tight and wait for the strong hands in Hold’em and PLO. In short: Tight is right in 8-Game and you should focus on identifying your strong hands and play them right to get the most out of them. Fold your week hands and be careful with bluffing. Next we will go through the rules and the basic strategy for all 8 games. We assume that you know Hold’em and a bit of PLO already so we mainly focus on the differences between these games.
All players get five cards and your goal is to get the lowest poker hand possible without hitting a straight or a flush. Also a pair counts against you. The best low hand possible is 7-5-4-3-2 off-suit (aces are high cards in 2-7). You are unlikely to get a good hand at first but you can exchange as many cards as you like during the three draw rounds. Read the full rules here.
Your starting hand is very important here. A good rule of thumb in 2-7 Triple Draw is to fold your hand if you do not have three unpaired cards with a value lower than 9. You can call on the first street, though, if you have a 2 together with a card of the value 3 to 7. High cards over 8 should be exchanged. To have a good chance of winning after showdown you should try to have a hand with a 9 as the highest card.
You should always bet if you have a good hand and only need one card to get a really strong hand. If your opponent calls and exchanges two cards, you're likely to be still ahead and you can bet again. If your opponent stands pat (doesn't exchange any cards), or starts to raise, you should be careful. In this case you need a strong hand with a 7 as the highest card to proceed. It actually happens quite often that a player has a 7-high hand.
Limit Hold’em Basic Rules
You likely know the rules for Texas Hold’em but if not you can brush up right here:
Limit Hold’em is less action packed compared to No-Limit Holdem as you can only bet a certain amount of chips at a time. This means players will see more flops and play more hands until showdown. It also means new players will lose their money a lot more slowly.
- See more about the betting rules in Limit Holdem here.
Basic Limit Holdem Strategy
Compared to No-Limit you can play more draw hands in Limit Hold’em when you're out of position. Your opponents can't make big bets, which gives you the right pot odds to call. However, you should avoid playing hands with little potential such as two low cards without draws. There will often be more opponents seeing the flop compared to No-Limit so you are unlikely to be ahead unless you hit something big on the flop. Generally you can play the same kind of starting hands as in No-Limit but make sure to make a few adjustments. See also our strategy section on Limit Hold’em.
Limit Omaha Hi-Lo
Game play in Omaha Hi-Lo is like in normal Omaha but the main difference is the pot is split into two and given to the best high hand and the best low hand. To get the best low hand, all five cards have to be of the value 8 or lower (no pairs). This is why the game is also called Omaha 8-or-Better. An ace is counted as a low card as well as a high card. You can have a flush or a straight in your low hand so the best possible low hand is 5-4-3-2-A (suits have no importance here). If nobody has a qualified low hand (which happens fairly often) the pot goes to the player with the best high hand. Read about Omaha Hi-Lo Rules and basic strategy here.
A good rule of thumb for Omaha Hi-Lo is to go for the high hand but have a draw for the low hand. Since it happens frequently that no player has a qualified low hand, you can in many cases scoop the pot with the best high hand. A hand with one or two aces is always a good starting hand as it increases your chances to win both the high and the low hand. The best possible low hand - 5-4-3-2-A - can sometimes also end up being the best high hand as a straight. As in PLO it's always good to have a double-suited starting hand, preferably also well connected. If you have four of the same suit, be careful proceeding.
Game play in Razz is almost identical to Seven-Card Stud, only it's a Lowball game where your goal is to get the best low hand. Flushes and straights don't count and an ace is a low card so the best possible hand in Razz is 5-4-3-2-A. As opposed to the Hi-Lo games you don't need to have a qualified hand to win the pot. This means that you can be lucky to win the pot with a face card or a pair at showdown.
Basic strategy in Razz is quite similar to Seven-Card Stud. You should be disciplined and wait for your good hands instead of calling with hands with little potential. Also keep an eye on the “dead cards” -- the door cards your opponents fold along the way.
The value of your down cards is quite important for the strength of your hand. If you have an ace and another low card as your down cards you have a very strong hand which you should proceed with for sure.
If your door card is an ace, it can be a good idea to bet as your opponents will usually respect this and might fold quickly. If you've decided to proceed with a medium hand, on third street you need to make an important decision. Here the big bet is coming into the picture and if your opponent has hit something big it can end up costing you a lot of chips.
- See more tips for Razz Strategy here.
Limit Seven-Card Stud
After Razz it's time for the “real” Stud game and back to the poker hand rankings. Straights and flushes are also in play here as opposed to Razz. You start out with two down cards and one open card, the door card. The following three cards are also dealt open while the final seventh card is dealt face down. Read the full 7 Card Stud rules here.
In Stud as well as Razz you need to be disciplined and keep an eye on your opponents’ door cards. If you have a flush draw but can see that your opponents have several of the cards in your suit, you're less likely to hit it. Also here your two down cards are important for your starting hand. If you for example have a high pair as your door card you can end up with a very strong, well-hidden hand if it improves.
When your opponents just call your bet it's very likely that they have a drawing hand. If you can see that they end up having four cards to a flush or a straight and start betting should you be very careful with calling unless you have a better hand. A high pair is sometimes enough to win a hand but again keep an eye on what door cards your opponent has. If he has a flush or a straight draw and raises on seventh street it's very likely your pair is not good enough.
Limit Stud Hi-Lo
We move on with the Stud games, this time for the Hi-Lo version which is also called Stud8. The pot can be split up into two where the best high hand gets one half while the best low hand will get the other half if it is qualified. As in Omaha Hi-Lo a hand is qualified if it has five cards with the value 8 or lower with an ace being a low card. A pair counts against you while straights and flushes don’t. If no player has a qualifying low hand will the entire pot be given to the best high hand. Read the rules for Limit Stud Hi-Lo here.
Stud Hi-Lo is a game where you need a lot of focus as there are many things to keep an eye on. Not only do you have to understand your own hand's potential, you also need to estimate if your opponent has a good high or low hand. Luckily it's fairly easy to see if your opponent is going for the high or the low hand. Just look at the door cards and you have a pretty good idea. If you have a good low hand and your opponent looks to have a good high hand, you'll often end up splitting the pot.
A good tip in Stud Hi-Lo is to go for the low hand while having a draw to a strong high hand. This is because it's easier to see if you have the best low hand compared to the best high hand. The opposite is the case for Omaha Hi-Lo where you should try to go for the high hand while having a draw to the low hand. The strategies for the two games are however similar regarding the importance of having an ace in your hand. The best possible low hand is also 5-4-3-2-A which can also end up being the best high hand.
- See more Stud Hi-Lo Strategy here.
No-Limit Texas Hold’em
In case you've been living on the moon for the past 15 years, read the rules for No-Limit Texas Hold’em here.
In 8-Game, No-Limit Hold’em is usually the game where most players go broke. Especially the smaller stacks, who will wait for the chance to go all-in in search of a quick double-up as the other games do not give the same opportunities. For this reason it's a good idea to play a bit tight and keep an eye on short stacks going all-in. Don’t forget it's a six-max game and they aren't always at the top of their range to try to get an all-in through.
At the same time, they're unlikely to go all-in with two random cards. If you're a very strong Hold’em player you can use an aggressive strategy to steal blinds and play your opponent pre-flop. It's rare for your opponent to have a big hand in six-max. Want to learn more Texas Hold’em strategy?
- See our Texas Holdem Strategy section here.
The most important difference between Texas Hold’em and Omaha is that you get four hole cards instead of two. When you make your final poker hand you can only used two of your cards-- in fact, you have to use two of them. Another difference is the Pot-Limit betting structure where you can only bet the same size as the pot. Since there are many draw opportunities in PLO you'll see quite a few bets and raises during a hand. If you don't know the rules for Omaha yet, you can learn them on PokerListings.
As in No-Limit Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha is a game where you can easily go all-in and many players take this opportunity in 8-Game. The risk is higher compared to Hold’em as a good starting hand wins less often in Omaha than in Hold’em. For this reason it's generally better to see a flop before putting everything on the line.
In Pot-Limit Omaha it's a good idea to play a hand which is already good but has the potential to become even better. A good example is a hand with a pair but also with a flush and/or a straight draw, example: A K A Q . You won't always win with these kind of hands in Omaha but they can be very strong if you hit the right cards on the board.
Don’t forget that you need a much bigger hand at showdown than in Hold’em. Ace-high is rarely enough to win a pot; neither is a low pair. So try to go for a straight or flush to increase your chances of winning. We have a large strategy section on PLO, too.
- Read through Omaha Strategy here.
More on How to Play Poker:
- How to Play Poker - The Ultimate Guide for Poker Beginners
- How to Get Started Playing Online Poker | Online Poker Guide
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