I am falling in love with the HORSE game that is going off at Mohegan Sun every Monday. It is a $7.50/$15 pink chip game, meaning that it is played with the very fashionable $2.50 chips. They are great for making castles!


In a mix game like this, each game in the rotation is usually played for eight hands. Hold’em is the first in the rotation. This is limit version instead of the no-limit version. Here is the first part of the five part HORSE primer.

HORSE Primer: H is for Hold’em

Most of us are coming from a no-limit Hold’em background so will need to make some adjustments to play this limit version. One of the major things to remember is that you will almost never be able to bet someone off of a draw. In no-limit you can shove in a pot sized bet and give absolutely horrible odds to someone that wants to chase you with a draw. In limit, since you can only bet a fixed amount, players are quite correct to chase many draws. Even if they are incorrect to chase, they will often do so anyways because they are only a little wrong in limit instead of being massively wrong in no-limit situations.

The second thing you need to prepare yourself for is the unexpected swings. I first thought that being limit, the swings would be negligible compared to no-limit. But, because you are frequently right to chase draws in limit hold’em, you will find your stack dying the death of a thousand cuts. If you are right to chase a draw that you win 20% of the time on the turn and then 20% again on the river you can see that your stack will slowly bleed down until you hit such a draw. This can have an emotional toll. I tend to buy in for a large amount so that this natural fluctuation of chips does not seem so big. The base of the above pyramid pictured above represents my buy-in. With 50 big bets in the original stack the swings do not feel as big when you only have your original buy-in. Some people buy in for ten big bets and then just keep rebuying, and this constant drain from their wallet seems to take an emotional toll. I doubt they are doing this so they have all-in protection.

With all the limit games, you need to pay attention to when the size of the bet increases. While bluffing is rare, it can work. If it looks like a pot is going to be abandoned and you are in position, waiting until the turn to bluff at it might make more sense. If the pot holds $22.50 (three limpers in the hand), then betting the small bet on the flop would be $7.50 giving four to one odds for a caller. If instead that bluff were done on the turn, it would be $15 giving only odds of two and a half to one.

Another way to manipulate the bet size increase is by making a flop raise when in position. This can often induce the original raiser to check on the turn. By raising a flop bet for $15 total in the $7.50-$15 game the raiser will often get to see the turn checked to him. At that point, the raiser can play perfectly. If the raiser wants to see all five cards for that original $15, they can check. If the raiser wants to bet the turn because they hit their hand, then they can do that. As a bonus, the pot is bigger when the raiser has a turn card they like. If the raiser had not raised, the original bettor would often bet the turn, meaning the total price to see the board would have been$22.50 instead of the $15.

I have found that my local HORSE game is populated mostly by Stud players and that Hold’em is their weakest game. If you can find a HORSE game at the appropriate stakes, play tight and get acclimated to the limit game. It is great for cross-training for your poker brain.

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  • Speros

    I used to play in a 8/16 horse game at Horseshoe Hammond. The game used $2 chips, hence a $2 ante. I found it tough to beat because I’m kind of a tight player in the stud games and it would just ante me to death. HORSE is a great game if the antes are reasonable.

  • Doug Hull

    Ah, ours is a $1 ante. That is a huge difference in the stud games. I am not sure how much you need to loosen up in a high ante game, but 1/4 the small bet for you versus versus 1/7.5 is nearly twice the size of ante!