In the summer of 2008 I spent three happy months in Las Vegas and I spent a fair amount of time playing Omaha.
It’s probably not the PLO version that you’re familiar with. When you’re in Las Vegas and you’re playing “Omaha” you are playing Omaha hi-lo (“or Omaha 8 or better” as it’s also known). And it’s limit, not pot limit.
I love this game and in the past few days I’ve been playing some Omaha cash games on Paddy Power – just small stakes and usually pot limit as there isn’t that much action at the limit variety. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed it and I dare say I’ll be at the Omaha tables in the foreseeable future. Anyway all this reminded me of a particularly weird hand.
First of all, a quick observation on the logistics of Omaha hi-lo and why playing online is much better than playing live. The game must be an absolute nightmare to deal! Most pots are split pots because there’s a high and low end to be won but there are often “chops” – usually for the low part of the pot. It’s painful getting “quartered” or even “sixthed” in Omaha. So the dealer has to do a lot of counting and woe betide him when he gets it wrong -Omaha players are a tough crowd! Complicating things further are the players themselves. They love to just sit there like stuffed dummies with their cards face up, saying nothing and expecting the poor dealer to look at all 7 hands and declare a high and a low winner immediately. (Yes, it really is common for 7 people to be there at the river. It’s only ever one more bet to call after all!) So give the dealer a chance eh? Stack your chips and declare your hands. All this explains why you get about 23 hands an hour at a 10 handed Omaha hi lo table playing live.
Onto our hand then. In Binions Horseshoe, where I played most of my Omaha there was a wise old owl called Bob in his sixties and we got on well. He was a great player and a funny guy and we spent a bit of time away from the table together, having dinner and discussing hands. I really enjoyed listening to his advice.
Now I don’t know statistically what the worst hand in Omaha is but I imagine that 2222 would come pretty close. You would struggle to win the high end with 2222 and winning the high is…well it’s actually impossible!
I asked Bob if he’d ever got dealt 2222. I was amazed at his response.
“I once saw a pot scooped with 2222!”
“How on earth is that possible?” I asked him. That’s when he set about explaining the following hand to me.
The key thing to remember is that the pot was unraised and the person holding 2222 was in the big blind. There is no way you would voluntarily put money into the pot with that hand! It just wouldn’t happen.
So there were a number of limpers and the big blind checked his 2222. The flop came 999. No one bet the flop.
As you know, there is a high pot in Omahha hi lo and a low pot. But if there is no qualifying low hand the winner of the high end scoops the lot. Clearly there could be no winner of the low pot on this particular flop.
The turn was a 9. Again nobody bet.
The river was a queen for a board of 9999Q.
Now the novice mistake here is to think that if you hold a queen you have a full house with QQ999. But remember you HAVE to play two from the hand and three from the board. You can’t use four from the board. (For this reason you also couldn’t have quads nines with ace high). So you can only have a full house if you hold a pocket pair. Guess what? no-one had a pocket pair in their hand except for the big blind, who had not one but two pairs of deuces.
It was such a strange set up. If you’re dealt that hand in any position bar the big blind it gets mucked. If anyone bets at any stage, the hand gets mucked. But miraculously, nobody bet the flop turn or river.
And that is how a man came to scoop the pot in hi lo with quad deuces. You’ll be waiting an awful long time to see that happen again.