10/4/09 – The popularity of the H.O.R.S.E multi-poker variant at major live tournaments illustrates well the demand for the more diverse and challenging concept of switching to other genres of the game during a competition, and online gambling sites have been quick to respond with their own versions, and some innovative alternatives to boot.
Introduced around a year ago and perhaps the most high profile of these alternatives is the PokerStars 8-Game, which features eight different poker variants, including 2-7 Triple Draw, Limit Hold'em, Omaha 8, Razz, Seven Card Stud, Stud 8, No-Limit Hold'em and Pot Limit Omaha.
PokerStars offers cash games which have attracted up to 5 000 players a week, and the company has revealed that it is currently dealing around 150 000 hands of the 8-Game variety to this growing player niche. The interest has been extended by offering the 8-Game concept at major events like this week's EPT London and the interest of major international names in the game like former WSOP champ Joe Hachem and David Williams.
After winning this year's GBP 2 000 buy-in European 8-Game Championships this week Hachem commented that he believes many players have moved to 8-Game from H.O.R.S.E. because of the addition of No-Limit Hold'em and Pot-Limit Omaha to the mixed limit-game format.
"I think people have switched to 8-Game from H.O.R.S.E because they don't want to just play Limit games anymore," the former champ said. "The average punter who watches poker on TV is still going to be more attracted to No-Limit Hold'em.
"8-Game is not really all-in poker. Although it might be in the big bet games, it's not in the Limit games. I think people want that action, but I also think the variety of 8-Game has definitely got people interested and it will keep them there."
Williams, who recently won the 8-Game component in the World Championships of Online Poker, gave another explanation for the genre's popularity: "I think it's cool because everybody feels that nobody is good at all the games," he says. "That's probably true. Although it's also that a lot of the players that think they're good at all the games might not be as good as they think.
"You find a lot of players who are not as good at the Limit games as they are at No-Limit Hold'em or Pot-Limit Omaha and that creates an interesting element where some games you are a favourite and some maybe not."
Williams feels that 8-Game success depends largely on identifying exactly where your opponents' strengths and weaknesses lie, not street to street, but game to game.
In cash games, the 8-Game format usually involves switching gamestyles every six hands, whilst in tournaments the change is effected by level.
More on the PokerStars 8-Game can be found here: http://www.pokerstars.com/poker/games/8-game/
Perhaps motivated by the success of the 8-Game online concept, PokerStars' main rival – Full Tilt Poker.com – has more recently developed a similar product in its addition of Full Tilt Poker 7-Game to its range of mixed poker games.
This combines Fixed Limit Holdem, Limit Stud Hi-Lo, Limit Razz, Limit Omaha Hi-Lo, Limit Stud Hi, No-Limit Holdem and Pot-Limit Omaha, and can be accessed through the Mixed Games lobby on the popular website,
Full Tilt offers choices of table sizes,with 2, 6 and 8 player games available at stakes starting at 10c / 20c and going all the way to $2000 / $4000 – the majority of the action being at $2 / $4 and below. 10 hands of each game are played in rotation, rather than the 6 hands for the 8-game mix at Pokerstars.