H.O.S.E. Poker is a tournament in which four poker variations are played in constant rotation. H.O.S.E. is similar to H.O.R.S.E. but it lacks Razz. The name is an acronym for the four games played: Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Lo, 7 Card Stud and 8 High 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo.
Playing a combination of games tests a player’s overall skill. In H.O.S.E. Poker the great player in one of the games may be mediocre at the others and will lose in the end.
Because of the challenging nature of H.O.S.E. many professional poker players enter H.O.S.E. games or tournaments to sharpen their poker skills. H.O.S.E. is also often played for high stakes. These tables are for true high-rollers or true poker experts only.
Each of the four games has subtleties that set it apart. Mastering all these nuances of poker set the true top dogs from the rest of the field.
In Texas Hold’em you play for high hand. There are five community cards and two hole cards. Generally, Hold’em is played for no limit but in a H.O.S.E. tournament there is usually a limit. Bluffing is prevalent. Players have to learn to read opponents and to evaluate their own hands honestly.
Omaha is played like Hold’em with two huge differences. First, in Omaha you play for both high and low hand. The pot is split between the high and the low hand. Second, each player makes his hand using exactly three community cards and his two hole cards. Usually, the low hand must be headed by an 8 or less. This means that there could be a game with no low hand winner.
7 Card Stud is played for high hand. There are no community cards. The first two cards are hole cards. There are four up cards and then a third down card. In a seven-player game, each player will see up to 28 cards.
8 High 7 Card Stud is played for low hand but the hand must be headed by an 8 or better.
Calculating the Odds
In each of these games, and in all poker games, the better players are constantly figuring the odds of winning to help them determine the viability of a bet, raise, or call.
Texas Hold’em is considered the easiest game for calculating odds because you see so few cards. Stud Poker is considered the most difficult because you have to learn to remember which cards have been dealt. When a player folds early his cards are no longer visible, so you have to remember.
In high-low games you may be able to arrange the cards to qualify for both the high and the low hands. This increases your chances of winning but makes the calculation all the more difficult.
In 8 High Stud you have to figure out how many cards enable you to qualify if you don’t have an eight-high hand yet.
Keep in mind that all your opponents should be making these calculations too. If you are at a table where you are the only player doing the math, you are at a tremendous advantage.
A Way to Refine Your Skills
H.O.S.E. Poker is a great way to refine your poker skills. There are low-stakes games to play in as you learn and get better. If you love challenges and changes-of-pace, H.O.S.E. may be the perfect format for your poker gaming.