Mixed Game Formats: A True Test of a Poker Player’s Skills
What are mixed poker games?
Mixed poker games are games where you play more than one poker game. You play them in rotation, going from one game to the next every so many hands or blind levels.
Many pros say these games are a trust test or measure of a player’s skills. Since you’re not just playing one game, but you’re playing several, you have to be competent in both the rules and strategies of as many as 10 games. And be able to adjust on the fly.
Interested? You’re not alone – I’ve noticed that these games are becoming more and more popular. One reason, I think, is that mixed games are a good change of pace. It’s a new challenge, way to break up the mundane of whatever your normal grind is.
It’s also a way for more accomplished players to get away from the more popular and saturated games, like holdem or omaha. Instead of playing massive tournament fields – where often more luck is needed – you can play smaller fields where skill is more of a factor.
Whatever your reason, you should consider playing mixed poker games. This page will tell you more about them.
Mixed Poker Game Primer
I already gave you a rough explanation of what a mixed poker game is. But let’s dive a little deeper. What poker games are included in a mixed game rotation?
Let’s say we’re playing HORSE. That means you’d be playing the following games IN ORDER:
- Omaha hi/lo
- Stud eight or better
Once you finish the stud hi/lo round, you’ll start over.
The rounds will change after so many hands – for cash games – OR – after so many minutes – for tournaments.
That’s the general idea.
Games will vary in stakes, betting limits, structure, and so on. There are some standards (like usually sticking to limit when you play HORSE). But this can and will vary. And it can be custom based on the people playing.
For example, here’s how they do it in Bobby’s Room, the “Big Game” that runs at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
The table features no-limit and pot-limit games with wagers up to $100,000 per hand. Limit games as high as $4,000/$8,000 are often played but $800/$1,600 is normal.
The table features a variety of poker games played in rotation and changing every 8–10 hands. The games are selected from a list of the players’ choices, including:
- Texas hold ’em (limit and no limit)
- Seven-card stud (straight high, eight or better Hi/Lo, Hi/Lo without qualifiers, limit)
- Omaha (straight high, eight or better Hi/Lo, limit and pot limit)
- Deuce-to-seven triple draw (limit)
- Deuce-to-seven single draw (no limit)
- Ace-to-Five triple draw (limit)
- Ace-to-Five single draw (no limit)
- Razz (limit)
And here’s an example from the 2010 World Championship event. They changed it from HORSE to an 8-game mix, which was played in the limit format until the final table.
- 2–7 triple draw
- Texas holdem (limit)
- Omaha hi/lo
- Seven card stud
- Seven card stud hi/lo
- No-limit Texas holdem
- Pot-limit omaha
It just depends on where you’re playing, what you’re playing and who you’re playing with.
Now that you know what a mixed game is and a rough idea of how they work, let’s look at the different variations you can play.
List of Mixed Poker Game Variations
There are several mixed game variations. Many of them you can say are “formal”, as in you’ll see these played at major tournaments, series, cash games and online.
Others you could call “informal” if you want to place a name on it. But it’s basically any set of games you choose, in the order you want to play them in.
Here are the most common mixed poker game variations:
- HOSE – same as HORSE., except without razz.
- HOE – same as HORSE, except no razz or seven-card stud.
- HO – Texas holdem and omaha hi/lo.
- OE – Omaha hi/lo and seven-card stud hi/lo (eight or better).
- HA – Pot limit Texas holdem and pot limit omaha.
- Omaha Hi/Lo Mixed – Fixed limit omaha and pot limit omaha hi/lo.
- Holdem Mixed – Fixed limit and no limit Texas holdem.
- Eight Game Mix – Fixed limit 2-7 triple draw, fixed limit Texas holdem, fixed limit omaha hi/lo, razz, fixed limit seven-card stud, fixed limit seven-card stud hi/lo, no limit Texas holdem and pot limit omaha.
- Ten Game Mix (introduced at the 2011 World Series of Poker) – No limit holdem, fixed limit razz, fixed limit holdem, fixed limit badugi, fixed limit seven-card stud, no limit 2-7 single draw, fixed limit omaha hi/lo, pot limit omaha, fixed limit 2-7 triple draw and fixed limit seven-card stud hi/lo (played with 6 players on a table).
Many, if not most of these options will be available online, offline, or both.
Finding a Mixed Poker Game
Finding a mixed poker game nowadays shouldn’t be too difficult.
It’s not something I’ve seen in smaller poker rooms, lesser popular casinos or even in the daily tournaments or cash games that the larger Las Vegas casinos hold.
But these games ARE popular enough you’ll find them online at most rooms. The room may not have a ton of traffic to those games, so they might be hit or miss. But they’ll be there.
There are major tournaments that offer mixed games too.
For example, here’s the options from PokerStars’ WCOOP 2016:
- WCOOP-43: $320 HORSE, $75K Guaranteed
- WCOOP-66: $2,100 HORSE Championship, $200K Guaranteed
- WCOOP-68: $10,300 8-Game Championship, $500K Guaranteed
And this is what you can play at the WSOP 2016:
- WSOP-8: $1,500 H.O.R.S.E.
- WSOP-11: $10,000 Dealers Choice/Six-Handed
- WSOP-15: $1,500 8-Game Mix
- WSOP-18: $3,000 horse
- WSOP-24: $10,000 HORSE Championship
- WSOP-36: $2,500 Mixed Omaha / Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo
- WSOP-45: $1,500 HA (eight handed)
There are plenty of options if you know where to look.
4 Tips for Playing Mixed Poker Games
Here are some tips to keep in mind if you want to play mixed poker games.
- Don’t forget what game you’re playing. It’s very easy to be playing razz and then continue gunning for the low hand, only to find out you’re now playing stud (hi).
- It’s hard to be GREAT at every single game in a mix. But you can do well just being able to break even or greatly minimize your losses in the games you’re weak at.
- Pay attention to other player’s weaknesses and take advantage of them. Build your stack during these levels, if possible, so you can play less (stick to the nuts) during other (your weaker) rounds.
- Learn how to play every game before you play for real money. All online sites let you play for free. You’ll probably find just as much – if not more – traffic at the free mixed games than you will most paid games.
It’s hard to give specific advice since it’s game dependent and, well, most mixed poker games have a handful of different games in rotation. But with all the resources out there – and the fact that you can play mixed games for free – there’s no reason to struggle. Just choose a game to focus on and get to work.
There you have it. That’s the basics to mixed poker games.
I like mixed games for the variety. But from my experience it’s a much slower game due to the slower pace of games like razz and stud, and the limit betting. But they’re still worth checking out.
But one thing to keep in mind is you’ll struggle to find many tips online.
You can always look for tips for specific games, like holdem, omaha, stud, and so on. But you’ll want to remember that there’s probably nuances or strategies involved with the switching of games, too.
But if you want to test your abilities and become a true poker master, you’ll figure it out.