CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

Can you recognize a good poker hand when you see one?

19 May 2007

Once the flop comes down in a game like Texas Hold'em, if you've got a good hand you'll know it. Hold'em is a simple, self-apparent game. If you have Ace/King and a 2-6-K flops, you've clearly got the top pair. And if you have 10/J when that same 2-6-K flops, what've you got? See what I mean?

In other poker games, like Omaha Hi/Lo Split, for example, good hands on the flop aren't nearly as easy to recognize. What might look like a real good hand to a run-o-the-mill player can actually be a piece-o-junk that has almost no chance of winning.

A recent Omaha Hi/Lo game I was in provided a classic example of that. I had folded on the deal and the following flop came down:

9d-8d-5c

There was a bet, a raise and a call, then the last player, who was named Joe, re-raised with 3/4/6/7 in the hole and no diamonds (notice that he flopped a 9-high straight using his 6/7). Everybody called and at the river, the board looked like this:

9d-8d-5c-3s-5d

The action went check, bet, raise, and then Joe resignedly called. The bettor turned over Ace/deuce/etc/etc for the "nut" (best possible) low, and the raiser showed 8/8/etc/etc, giving him 8s full of 5s.

Joe frustratingly turned up his hand and bemoaned his "bad luck", complaining that he had the "nut" straight on the flop -– the best possible hand at that point.

Winning Omaha players might see the deadly flaw in Joe's logic, but the average guy will think, "What the heck? I got the best possible hand on the flop. I gotta' push it, right?" Wrong!

Omaha is not Hold'em. With nine cards to choose your best five from, it becomes a much bigger hand game. In Omaha, if there's a pair on board, somebody generally has a full house. If there are three of the same suit out there, somebody almost always has a flush. And if three cards, 8 or lower are on board, it's virtually certain someone will have the nut, or at least the second nut low.

So where does that put Joe's 3/4/6/7 when he flops the nut straight, but two diamonds and two low cards are on board? Let me tell you where.

First, whenever two cards 8 or lower flop (such as with 9-8-5), there's a 75% chance an 8 low will be possible at the river and the pot will be split. Joe's best prospects for low are his 3/4 -- the sixth best low draw, and he can forget about winning low with that. So Joe's probably going for half a pot with this hand, severely cutting his potential profit, even if he does win the high half.

Next, with two diamonds on the flop, a flush will end up getting there a third of the time. Besides that, the board will pair 40% of the time, making full houses likely. And if none of those things happen, any 10, Jack or Queen on either of the last two cards will probably give somebody else a higher straight. The truth is, Joe's 9-high straight has very little chance of getting any part of the pot. He really should have folded on the flop. Most poker "losers" just can't bring themselves to do that.

Now, that's not to say you can never play a straight in Omaha. The key is in what spots you play them. In contrast, say you hold 10/J/K/A and the flop comes:

8c-9h-Qs

You again flopped the nut straight (10/J), but do you notice any differences from the last situation? This time, there's only one low card out there (the 8), so 70% of the time, there will be no low. Also, notice that it's a "rainbow" flop (three different suits) making the eventuality of a flush unlikely. Besides that, if any high cards come on turn or the river, you'll still have the "nut" straight with the cards you hold. Your only realistic threat is if the board pairs –- and 60% of the time it won't! Now, in this situation, you should bully your straight.

The moral of the story? When you flop a straight, or even an open-end straight draw, in Omaha Hi/Lo, pay very close attention to how many low cards flopped and whether there's already a flush draw out there. You need almost perfect conditions to keep on playing.

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey

Fred Renzey
Fred Renzey is a high-stakes, expert poker player. On a daily basis he faces--and beats--some of the best players in the country in fierce poker room competition. Now for the first time, Renzey offers his perceptive insights on how to play winning poker. For Fred's 13-page blackjack booklet "Ace/10 Front Count", send $9 to Fred Renzey, P.O. Box 598, Elk Grove Village, IL, 60009

Books by Fred Renzey:

Blackjack Bluebook II

> More Books By Fred Renzey