A cursory introduction to each of the five games that constitute horse poker is necessary for a novice. Remember in all variants each player competes for an amount of money (pot) contributed by the players themselves. The cards being dealt randomly each player aims to control the money in the pot based on the hand.
H – Texas Hold’em: Two cards are dealt face down to each player. The dealer places a series of 5 community cards as in 3:1:1 being the flop, turn and river.
Betting is done 4 times – at the start before the flop, on the flop, on the turn or on the river, and players can choose to check, bet or fold after each deal. After each hand, the money in the pot is awarded to the winner/s. What is central to winning is to make calculated bets – at correct moments for correct sums. Idea is to make optimum winnings during each round of betting. This game though originated in 1900 took 67 years to reach Las Vegas. In 1970 when the World Series of Poker was initiated, Horse Poker acquired the stature of being the Main Event.
O – Limit Omaha Eight or Better (Hi/Lo): Very similar to Texas Hold’em, here the players are dealt four cards. The players now can choose two of them for making their best hand, along with three of the five community cards. Omaha refers to several poker games and was initiated as the Omaha High. Various adaptations emerged as a high-low split, or the Omaha Eight or better or just Omaha/8. It is generally played in the fixed limit format often shortened as PLO – Pot-limit Omaha. A no-limit Omaha eight-or-better is seldom played. The players have more drawing possibilities between the permutations and combinations of the cards at hand and the community cards. Even an experienced player will need to be a mathematical whiz to draw upon all possible combinations to make out the best one.
R – Razz acquired a place after Texas Hold’em and Omaha in the World Series of Poker in 197i. A form of stud poker, seven cards are dealt to a player to make the lowest five-card possible. The best therefore would be a 5-4-3-2-A or 5 high. The ace-to-five low also known as the wheel or the bicycle, makes it similar to seven card stud; except that two cards out of the seven can be discarded to form a complete hand.
S – Seven-card stud was the most popular poker variant until Texas Hold’em took its rightful place in home games and casinos. Two to eight players and with seasoned players who fold often, nine players too can play this game. Seven cards are dealt in two down, four up and one down fashion with betting rounds in between.
E – Seven-card stud envisages a split of the pot between the players having the highest and lowest hand. While betting, in the first round it is the low card which pays the bring in followed by all rounds initiated by the highest showing poker hand. No declaration for high or low is made as players are free to choose subsets of five cards whether of high or low. High hand though has the upper hand if no low hand qualifies.