Horse is actually 5 seperate games as folks know. A commonly used strategy for newer players is to not play the games you are new to or feel you are weak in. In otherwards sitting out. I believe this is absolutely the wrong strategy for any player at any level. You should in fact learn the basics on preflop/flop hand evaluation and play tighter in the games your weaker in and looser in the games your more comfortable. Lets take each of the 5 in order and discuss some fundamentals.
First up is limit holdem. The key is the word limit
! You cannot attack a limit game the same as pot or no lmit in any game and holdems no exception. We are discussing preflop/ flop hand selection for each game, but post flop play has alot to do with preflop/flop decisions. Unlike non limit you need to adjust decision making for limit holdem. It is cheaper to chase, thus mid connectors/suited cards are much more often played by skilled limit holdem players. I actually change valuation slightly at an aggressive table. Working hands like 7 8 suited and 10 J suited into my top 10 hands to see a flop with. The key is the number of players seeing flops. Controlled cost on the small bets; to the flop and to see the turn and more players calling justify playing drawing cards more frequaintly. Thus a weak player should actually consider suited connectors and big aces as having more value potentially post flop than mid pocket pairs. Your decisions on folding are generally much easier with drawing hands postflop than the pocket pair and 2 overs on the board on the flop. A call does not mean your beat as in a call of a multi BB raise postflop almost always suggests. Instead it could be a chaser or 3rd pair your dealing with. You very rarely get priced out on pot odds
on seeing the turn or river because of the single bet in limit. Be it small bet(postflop) or big bet(post turn). Weaker players don't want to play small connectors like 4 5 suited because of the expertise involved. I mention 8 7 in particular earlier because it hits from the bottom and top on straight draws and is the best hand to draw to to bust an over pair like AA. A weak player should try this 10 hand selection preflop rather than top 10 premium hands. Stick with AA, KK, QQ, AKs
, AQ, JJ. This mix is different than the normal top 10 hands but does play much more controlled in limit for drawing. The "s" denotes suited cards.
Omaha Hi/Lo is my favorite of the 5 and I play limit tournies on the cash side. Rule number 1, play the high first. This is based on the fact that there is not always a low hand that qualifies. If your weak play hands that contain a pair of Q's or better and atleast 1suited. Any hand consisting of an ace and 2 of the following 3 low cards; 2,3 and/or 4 and preferably your ace being suited for potential Hi help. We are talking preflop hand selection for weaker players. This game is not one to fold and sit out. You have to get your feet wet here as this game tends to have the largest change in chip stacks of the 5 games. Less bets than the stud games that follow, but generally more raises and more players splashing in pots. A hand like A K Q 2 or A K 2 3 double suited are terrific preflop hands, but if this is a weak game for you never raise preflop. Give up the potential added bet for the safety of seeing a flop and then deciding how good you hit. This is absolutely the sort of game where postflop chasing even with raises is very common. Raise only with the absolute nuts after 5th street. Or to punish the unmade low draw after the turn. Preflop you like a combo of high and low cards for the Hi/Lo play. But look for big suited pairs and the 4 high cards over 8 as potentail full pot winners. That 4 high unpaired is generally refered to as a wrap and can be very powerful for straight draws. An example is Q J 10 9. This is a powerful wrap for drawing and if double suited can be very strong against multiple opponents.
RAZZ is a 7 card "stud" game where the lowest five card hand wins. Ace being considered low. You are dealt 3 cards and then have a decision to fold or play. The general rule of thumb is 3 cards 8 and under unpaired of course. For weak players this is a good rule to stick to. Don't get fancy with completing/raising on the flop but rather use chip management as we have been talking about through out to control the action when combined with hand selection on your weaker games. A key to pick up with RAZZ and both Stud games is card counting. Card counting is basically remembering folded and noted present board cards held by opponents. Developing this skill will allow you to become very good quickly in all 3 "stud" variations. Because all five cards must be different for the low and we can see some of our opponents cards we can sometimes figure out the likelyhood more fully of whether we have the best hand or not after 5th street and beyond. You do not want to play hands like A 2 K post flop. Even though you have 2 "throw away cards" figuring out odds if you miss an eight or lower on subsequaint turns can get very complicated. Your just minimizing the number of bets you utilize on weaker games. Having a 4 low under 8 after 4th street and a painted card on 5th street wouldn't be a folding barring the other players hands. Board reading is a key skill you'll need to develop for RAZZ. I've writen an extensive blog in my archives on RAZZ board reading. But folding the non 3 low under 8 on the flop is necessary for weak RAZZ players.
Stud will employ the same chip management principals, but with a different evaluation technique. Here again your given 3 cards on the flop. Look for 3 suited and/or connected cards over 9, a pair over 10 or better or low cards for all or most of your opponents. These "stud" games are great for developing your card counting skills when your not in the hand.Watch and try and remember what everybody folded. This skill is the reason you should never multi table in any of the "stud" related games. Postflop we want to never raise without top pair. By that we have a pair that none of the up cards from our opponents if paired could beat us. We know with 2 down cards that we could still be beat. But you can't find that out without betting. And aggression with a strong hand usually gets rewarded. Remember in any game your weak your going to fold alot. So being aggressive on the hands you play in the stud games is invaluable in getting eventual folds. After the flop we still have 4 more cards and 5 total rounds of betting. Slow playing and min raising monsters is ok as you get more skilled. But reraising probable temporary nut hands inducing folds and taking down small pots is a good strategy for newer players.
8ball, also known as Stud Hi/Lo combines stud and RAZZ. The low hand 5 under 8 gets 1/2 the pot. Here we remember my rule about playing the High first as in omaha. But slightly different. 2 cards under 5 on the flop should always see 4th street. Here we are not sharing board cards. Thus as more of our opponents cards are revealed we cab better judge the likelyhood of holding the nut low. In multiway pots there is less low splitiing in Stud 8ball than Omaha Hi/Lo. Board reading and card counting atre so key in 8Ball. Seeing two fours folded, you holding 1 and a six high leaves your opponent needing the last 4 to beat your made low after 5th street for example. This is when you raise/reraise every opportunity you get. Always remember when you make a nut low that the players playing the high may be on pure draws. Flushes and straights. Making them pay for streets is a must on a nut low. They'll often fold the unmade draw or you'll hit a single pair to make the high and low both. We are cautious til we have a made hand 5th street and beyond and still are always looking for reasons to fold on the flop but are aggressive with the nuts to make up for playing fewer hands.
The whole concept for playing weaker games is multi pronged. First you don't want to just "sit out" giving up blinds and antes. Playing hands helps you develop a better understanding of the fundamentals and get better at the game in question. By limiting the number of hands you play you employ a chip management strategy as well as giving yourself a better chance of playing a winning hand through pre/post flop hand selection. And finally an important further point. You keep your mind in the game. Your watching for reads. Betting paterns, preflop hand selection of your opponents even when your not in the hand. That wiil strengthen all your poker skills in all games over time by working on your weak ones you help them all.