How to Play Mixed Poker Games & Rules

If you had walked into a casino or logged on to an online poker room in 2002, there's a good chance you wouldn't have been able to find anyone playing Mixed Games.  Now, thanks to high-profile events at major tournaments like the World Series of Poker and a surge of new interest in Mixed Games online, the format has quickly joined the ranks of games like Pot Limit Omaha as a viable alternative to No Limit Hold'em.

Many players have seen the phrase thrown around on ESPN or in poker forums, but don't have a firm grasp of what Mixed Games actually entail.  That's where this overview to the basic rules of Mixed Games comes in handy, an overview that we'll start by defining some important terms.

Mixed Games: Key Terms

  1. Rotation:  The rotation is the list of games that make up the mix for the particular game you're playing.  Players will also use rotation to describe the mechanism that forces a switch from game to game, whether it be a number of hands, a set amount of time or some other variable.
  2. HORSE: HORSE is an abbreviation for perhaps the most popular Mixed Game, a rotation of Hold'em, Omaha, Razz, Stud and Eight-or-Better.  Mixed Games are generally described in this manner, using an acronym (loosely) constructed using the names of the individual games that make up the rotation.
  3. Dealer's Choice:  Dealer's choice is a Mixed Game format where the person who holds the dealer position determines the game to be played that hand.  Dealer's choice Mixed Games are generally only found at home or casual poker games.

Mixed Games: What Different Games Can You Include?

The great thing about playing mixed games is that the only limit to the rotation is your imagination (and what your friends or local casino will tolerate).  There's no reason why you can't mix limit and no limit games, stud and draw games, hold'em and omaha, and so on.  In fact, the 2011 WSOP introduced a 10-game Mixed Games format that rolled NLHE, Limit Holdem, PLO, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Badugi, 7 Card Stud, 2-7 Single Draw, 2-7 Triple Draw,  PLO, and 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo into a single game - an event popular enough that it was expanded in the 2012 World Series of Poker.

Mixed Games: Rules for A Successful Game

If you're looking to host a Mixed Game poker night or just interested in whether the Mixed Games you currently play in are being run correctly, consider these simple guidelines.

  1. Keep an Even Playing Field:  It's important to structure your game in a way that doesn't give an unfair advantage to anyone.  For example, if you're rotating in such a way that the same players are always getting the blinds in the Limit Hold'em round, you need to adjust how you change from game to game.
  2. Don't Forget About the Deck:  While a standard deck of 52 cards can handle 9 people playing Texas Hold'em, it doesn't do so well dealing 7 Card Stud to 9 people.
  3. Adjust Blinds for Betting Structures: If your rotation includes both limit and no limit betting, be sure to drop the blinds lower for the no limit (or pot limit) rounds.
  4. Participation Should be Mandatory: If a player sits out the games they don't like, that player should be asked to leave the game.  Mixed Games are just that - a mix - and players violate the spirit of the game by trying to play only part of the mix.


Now you're ready to get in on Mixed Game action, so check out our guide to the poker sites with the best game selection to find out where you'll have the greatest options for playing play Mixed Games online.