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Best of Fred Renzey

Gaming Guru

 

What Do You Have in These Omaha Hi/Lo Hands?

14 March 2008

Omaha Hi/Lo (8-or-better) is a "sister" game of Texas Hold'em. It creates more action than Hold'em for a couple of reasons. First, the pot is split between the best high and best low hands. Second, once the flop comes down, because of four hole cards in each player's hand, nearly everybody has something they can draw to.

Still and all, Omaha Hi/Lo languishes in popularity behind Texas Hold'em. I'm sure the exponentially greater number of possibilities in an Omaha hand confuses many would-be Omaha players out of playing. So today, I'm going to show you a few Omaha hands and flops, then ask you what you've got. Ready, go.

YOUR HAND
Ad/Kd/Qs/Jc

THE FLOP
3d-10d-Js

Typically, poker is a game of "made hands". Omaha, instead, is a game of "draws". That's because there are so many cards in this game that the best made hand on the flop is usually an underdog to the hand with the most draws. So in Omaha, you need to look at the flop and quickly assess how many different good hands you can make with the next two cards.

Now, remember, in Omaha you must use exactly two cards in your hand with three cards on the board. In the example above, you have only a pair of Jacks on the flop. By itself, that's nothing for this game. But you also have an Ace high diamond 4-flush (A/K/3/10), which will get completed one third of the time. On top of that, you have a "wraparound" straight draw, which is 50% to fill. That is, if any 9, Queen, King or Ace comes on either of the last two cards, you'll have the "nut" (highest possible) straight (with 9/10/J/Q/K or 10/J/Q/K/A). And 2% of the time, your pair of Jacks will even turn into a full house. All in all, you'll make either a straight, a flush or a full house two times out of three!

You've got a big hand, and are actually the favorite over somebody who has a pair of 10s in the hole and flopped a "set" of 10s (three 10s). Plus, remember that it takes an 8 low or lower to qualify for the low half of the pot. Since this flop has two high cards, 70% of the time, there won't be three low cards (8 or lower) on the board, and you'll be going for the whole pot with your high holding. It's a raising hand.

Now how about this next situation?

YOUR HAND
Ac/2d/3h/9s

THE FLOP
4d-5s-Qh

This is a more typical scenario in that two low cards came on the flop. Since you've got the Ace/2/3, any low card that comes from an Ace through 8 will give you the "nut" (best) low (using you're A/2, A/3 or 2/3). It'll end up getting there 70% of the time. Besides that, if an Ace, 2 or 3 specifically comes, you'll have a "wheel" (5 high straight), and plenty of times that'll win both ends (with a 5 high straight and a 5 low at the same time).

Now, here's one more hand to look at.

YOUR HAND
2h/3s/Qd/Kc

THE FLOP
5h-7s-8d

Three low cards came on this flop, making the lows already good. You've got your 2/3 to go with the 5-7-8. That's the third best possible low and you know what? It's probably no good.

And what have you got working for high? Nothing. There's a fair chance somebody's already made a straight with a 4/6 or a 5/9 and somebody else is highly likely to have an Ace/2 or Ace/3.

If you ever play a 2/3 in this game (not recommended), you need an Ace to flop in order to go any further in the hand. Hanging in there with the third best low is for losers.

In fact, your starting hand (2/3/Q/K) is usually not worth paying any money to see the flop with. The general rule is: all four of your cards should be very low or very high – but better if they're low.

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