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Best of Fred Renzey
Omaha Hi/Lo 8-or-better is an action game. With nine cards to pick from, once the flop comes down nearly everybody has some kind of a hand – or at least a draw to a high or a low. A perplexing dilemma arises, however, when you're going low and have no realistic high hand possibilities. Let's say you've got an unsuited A/2/K/K in a four-player pot and the flop comes down:
6 – 7 – 8
You can almost certainly kiss the high half of the pot goodbye, but you've flopped the "nut" (best possible) low with your A/2/6/7/8. However, with all those players in, you're worried that maybe someone else has another Ace/deuce with you. That's a legitimate concern, but it's only half your worries. Why? Because one time out of four in this spot, you'll end up getting counterfeited.
Being counterfeited means a card hits the board on the turn or the river that wrecks your low (in this case, an Ace or a deuce). And with two cards to come, an Ace or a deuce will come 25% of the time. That's the nightmare of having the nut low early with no backup card in your hand, such as a 3 or a 4.
If you were already on the turn with a "naked" nut low leaving only one card to come, your hand would be more likely to stand up. The following chart tells how often your nut low will get counterfeited from various points in the hand to the river with and without low backup cards in your hand.
So what does it all mean? It means that in five out of six situations, the prospect of getting counterfeited is not a substantial threat and shouldn't affect your strategy. The problem is, that sixth situation where you have just the "naked" Ace/deuce on the flop is very common. Between getting counterfeited a fourth of the time and maybe being "quartered" (winning just a fourth of the pot) when your hand stands up, your potential return is much weaker than it would seem.
This hand is at its most vulnerable when there are lots of players in and everybody seems to be raising. That usually tells you one or two other players have the nut low with you, but they have high strength as well.
It seems almost unthinkable to consider throwing away the nuts, but if everyone is just going to keep pounding the pot, it might actually be best to get out. You'd need a pretty severe scenario to make folding correct, so I'll describe one.
Suppose you have the exact hand pictured at the introduction of this article in that four-way pot and the stakes are $5/$10 limit. The 6-7-8 flops and somebody bets $5 right into it. There's a raise to $10 and a re-raise to $15, then it comes to you. If you're going to have to call $15 here, maybe a bet and a raise on the turn for another $20, and say just another $10 at the river, you'll have $45 in at the showdown from this point going forward. If everybody goes all the way, there'll be about $200 in the final pot, counting the blinds and all. What you'll probably get back is either a quarter ($50), or maybe a sixth ($33). But that's not all. What about that 25% of the time when you get counterfeited and end up with nothing?
Want to see things a little clearer? Just picture yourself having this hand four times, getting back $50 twice (when you're quartered), $33 once (when you get sixthed), and nothing that fourth time when you got counterfeited. It's true, you won't put in the full $45 when you get counterfeited, just $15 to $35 depending upon where your hand went bad. But on average, you'll put in about $40 in this hot spot and get back only around $33.
This is where you're going to have to use some good poker sense. If your opponents in the hand are the types who will play this aggressively only when they have a two way hand, you should probably release your dangerous nut low and sit this one out. On the other hand, if they love to fire those raises in the pot just to gamble, then fasten up your seat belt and go along for the ride.
As for the other five situations described in the preceding chart, you'll just have to play them out – and if you get counterfeited, you get counterfeited!
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.