TIPS FROM THE PROS
Oct 3, 2006
Earlier this year, I cashed in the $2,000
Omaha Hi/Lo event at the World Series of
Poker. I enjoyed the tournament; it was
great to spend some time playing a game
other than hold 'em. One thing that
surprised me about the tournament, however,
was that the quality of play was quite poor.
Some players didn't even know the very
basics, like starting hand values. I was
amazed that so many people would put $2,000
into a tournament where they didn't
understand even the most rudimentary
elements of the game's strategy.
For this article, I want to discuss how
the quality of your Omaha Hi/Lo hand relates
to the number of people in a pot. If you're
playing a multi-way pot, you need a very
strong hand going one way or the other. The
nuts or a draw to the nuts is preferable.
Absent that, in multi-way pots, you want to
have strong draws in both directions.
In heads-up play, however, you can
continue with far weaker hands if your
opponent is going to need to play all four
of his cards in order to scoop the pot. An
example should clarify what I mean.
Let's say you have 2-3-4-7 in the big
blind and call a late-position raise. The
flop comes K-Q-7 and you both check. The
turn, a 3, gives you two pair and a low
draw. You check again and your opponent
bets. You'd absolutely want to call. Your
two pair may very well be good and, if it's
not, there's a chance your low draw will get
there. Should the river bring an 8, you'd
definitely want to call a bet and showdown
In this situation, in order to scoop the
pot, your opponent would need to have
something like a better two pair and A-2 or
A-4. All four of his cards would need to be
involved in the hand. This is unlikely
enough that you should call his bet.
If you had the same hand, but were
playing a four-way pot, you probably
wouldn't want to call any bets. Say you make
your same two-pair and low draw on the turn
but, this time, after you check there's a
bet and two calls. It's likely that you're
not going to get either part of the pot as
someone probably has a stronger high while
someone else holds a better low draw.
This is only one important aspect of
Omaha Hi/Lo. If you spend some time
polishing your game, you can make some good
money in cash games and get great value in
tournaments since so many players are just
starting to learn the game.
What's more, you might also find that you
enjoy taking a break from hold 'em once in