Poker is a game of skill, strategy and adaptability. While No-Limit Hold’em may be the most widely known of the poker variants, experienced players often seek out new challenges and a fresh dimension to their gameplay.
This guide covers what “mixed games” means, the strategies required for each variant and why players opt to play them. Discover which mixed games to learn first and how rules and betting change in mixed games poker.
What Are Mixed Games in Poker?
When you think of poker, you probably think of No-Limit Hold’em. The reality is, players have grown tired of this classic version and have cited reasons like excessive tanking, new crowds of aggressive players and the solver-based strategies that have spoiled the game.
The same cannot be said for mixed games, where the action is fast and the players are usually inexperienced. This makes it an attractive option if you’re looking for opportunities to make a profit.
Mixed games refers to a collection of poker variants played in rotation during a single session or tournament (including online poker tournaments.) These games combine different poker formats, allowing players to showcase their versatility and expertise.
Strategies for Mixed Games
Some common mixed games include HORSE (Hold’em, Omaha, Razz, Seven-Card Stud and Eight-or-Better,) Eight-Game (Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, Pot-Limit Omaha and others) and Dealer’s Choice (where the dealer selects the game.)
Below, we’ll look at the most popular mixed games — namely the HORSE variety — and the strategies required when you learn how to play poker in these formats.
1. No-Limit Hold’em
No-Limit Hold’em (NLHE) is described as the ‘Cadillac of poker’ because it is arguably the most popular casino game in the world. This game can’t be ignored as it is included in the Eight-Game Mix — a very popular mix in both tournaments and cash games as well as poker games online.
Basic strategy in NLHE in mixed games dictates that you should be completely honest about your skill level. It would be a mistake to play large pots against more skilled players when you have a better edge in the other games.
If you think you’re at a disadvantage, it’s fine to adhere to a “small ball” strategy and be more cautious when defending your big blind. It would also be acceptable to put in larger bets or raises to end a hand sooner rather than later.
Omaha High/Low Eight or Better (O8b) is a community card flop game where everyone is dealt four cards face down instead of two and exactly two of their hole cards must be used to make a hand.
O8b may be the second-most popular poker variant and certainly the most popular game in regards to its inclusion within mixed games. Most of the playable hands in O8b are low oriented because they can often end up in a highly valued free-roll position.
Hand selection is of utmost importance in O8b, more so than any other poker variant, because if you play inferior hands, you’ll constantly get squeezed and free-rolled — this is a recipe for disaster.
Razz is a lowball poker variant, so the lowest hand wins. Aces are low in Razz so the best possible hand is 5-4-3-2-A. You should avoid making pairs and high cards, as these will only hurt your chances of winning.
The best starting hands in Razz are unpaired cards, 8 or lower. You can also play three-card 8s or better, but you should be careful not to overplay these hands.
As the hand progresses, you should pay attention to the door cards (the cards that are face up in front of your opponents.) If you see a lot of high cards, then you can be more aggressive with your low cards.
4. Seven-Card Stud
This American classic is a high-low split game so you can win with either the best high hand or the best low hand. Aces are high in Seven-Card Stud, so the best possible high hand is A-K-Q-J-T. The best possible low hand is 5-4-3-2-A.
The best starting hands in this game are high pairs, suited connectors and big cards. You can also play three-card aces or kings, but as with three-card 8s, you shouldn’t overplay these hands.
As the hand progresses, you should pay attention to the door cards. If you see a lot of high cards then you should be more cautious with your low hands. If you see a lot of low cards, then you can be more aggressive with your high hands.
5. Stud Eight-or-Better
Stud Eight-or-Better is a dynamic game where the pot is split evenly between the player with the best low hand (which must be eight-low at worst) and the player with the best high hand. Straights and flushes don’t count against the low hand.
Since players are competing for both the best low and high hands, starting hand selection is one of the most important facets of Stud Eight. The split-pot component of the game allows for many more playable hands than in other Stud variants.
Aces are very powerful in Stud Eight since they can be both high and low. If you have an ace, you should approach a starting hand selection in an early position by aiming to have three low cards, a pair or three-to-a-flush when open-raising.
Why Play Mixed Games?
Playing mixed games allows you to expand your poker knowledge and skill set while keeping gameplay fresh and exciting. By becoming proficient in multiple variants, you become a more well-rounded player, capable of handling different situations and opponents.
Mixed games also attract a diverse and eclectic group of players, each making their own unique mistakes. This presents an opportunity to exploit these errors at the table or in online casino games.
Finally, the biggest games in many poker rooms are often the mixed game rotations, which offer higher stakes.
Rules and Betting Changes
As you rotate from one game to the next, the rules and betting structures will change too. For example, if you’re playing Omaha (while playing HORSE) you’ll post the blinds, with hands being ranked according to a standard poker hand-ranking chart — just like a standalone game of Omaha.
However, once you move on to Razz, you’ll have an ante and bring-in instead of blinds. There are no community cards and hands aren’t ranked the same either.
Some games are played with fixed limits while others utilize pot-limit or no-limit structures. It’s important to familiarize yourself with and practice these variations to avoid costly mistakes.
Become a Formidable Mixed Games Player With BetMGM
Mastering mixed games in poker requires a combination of in-depth knowledge, adaptability and a solid foundation of poker skills. When you register with BetMGM, you can invest time in understanding each variant, hone your strategies in online poker and capitalize on the errors made by less-experienced players.