I’ve got another Omaha high low hand for you this week.
Just to recap if you’re unsure of the rules. Players are dealt four cards each and five community cards are dealt, just like holdem. After the betting (which can be limit or pot limit), half the pot is awarded to the high hand and half to the low hand.
The “high” works in exactly the same way as holdem but the “low” has to be the lowest 5 card hand where all cards are 8 or lower (straights and flushes don’t count.) That’s all there is to it.
Oh, except that if there is no low hand available, the winner of the high scoops the whole pot.
AND that you must use two from the hand and three from the board (very important point this last one.)
So rather than “that’s all there is to it” there is actually quite a lot to it and there are little tips that the good players pick up with experience. I’ve been learning one or two of these tips this week.
I’ve played a few thousand hands of Omaha hi lo since my last blog and one observation I made straight away is that the quality of player is higher than it is in holdem. I don’t mean their poker skills but their manners. They just seem to be a lot friendlier.
OK, we’re talking a small sample size here, and possibly they’re nice to me because I’m not very good But my general impression is that it’s a gentleman’s game, or rather the preponderance of low quality punk-ass degenerates with no manners whatsoever is much lower than it is in holdem.
I almost don’t mind losing money to someone who is polite and engages in normal conversation. And one such player was kind enough to teach me a great tip this week during a hand. This will be our hand of the week.
In this particular pot there had been raising pre flop and we saw a flop of 984
I had A299 – so this is a great flop. I’ve got top set for the high and the draw to the nut low. (Note that my high isn’t bomb proof though. Any ten, jack, queen, seven or five can bring a straight, so you don’t want to be slow playing or trying to set traps)
When he bet I raised (I think it was the full pot that I raised but I’m not 100% sure)
I was pretty sure he would come along for the ride . He’d been quite aggressive up to now and I’d been pretty passive. But he folded after some thought. And then he told me: “I folded AA23”
This hand is an absolute monster in hi lo. In fact AA23 when it is double suited is the absolutely best hand you can be dealt. I didn’t see his hand but he’s a good guy and I believe him.
“You folded that?” I asked, incredulously.
And he explained to me that he folded because all he had was a draw to the low. He would have known his high was no good because I’d been way too passive: my raise tipped him off that his over pair was no good. So all he was left with was a draw to the low.
He told me “Without a hand, when you draw to the low you still have nothing – you are drawing. And if you hit your draw you will only win half of the pot, so dump it”
In this case, had he hit his low he would have been splitting the low end. They call this getting “three quartered” and it’s horrible when it happens. By folding the flop he saved a pot bet on the turn and another on the river which I would have had 75% of. What a great fold.
So I said to him “Well then it’s no wonder I can’t beat you, is it!”