High-Low-Split Poker For Advanced Players: Seven Card Stud and Omaha Eight-or-Better

High-Low-Split Poker For Advanced Players: Seven Card Stud and Omaha Eight-or-Better

by Ray Zee

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Two Plus Two Publishing, LLC
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5.58(w) x 8.48(h) x 0.98(d)

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General Concepts

When playing in the lower limits, which I've defined as $10-$20 and below, there are two kinds of games. The first type is a game in which people are playing too loosely, especially after the flop; the second is a game where the players generally know what they are doing. In the first type of game, where people play too loosely, the main error is that many players draw to hands � especially low hands � that are not the nuts. If you find yourself in a game like this, your primary edge comes from the fact that you won't be drawing to less than the nuts. That is, after the flop, you should draw only to the nuts.

In games where people play approximately correctly, you must play not only correctly on the flop but also very tightly before the flop. Notice that there are two different strategies. In a really good game, the primary strategy is to play correctly and tightly on the flop. In a game that is not so good, you still have an edge as long as you play fewer hands before the flop than your opponents. When playing low-limit Omaha eight-or-better, if you are simply the tightest player both before the flop and on the flop, you have significant edge. However, if the game is fairly good, you will cost yourself a lot of profit if you play too tightly before the flop. For example, an ace-deuce in a loose game is almost always profitable, even if your other cards are nothing special. This is because if the flop gives you a low or a draw to a low, other players with ace-trey or deuce-trey will draw to the second and third nuts.

But if the game is reasonably tough, your ace-deuce loses most of its profitability, since other players won't be drawing to the second and third nuts as often. And when the low does come, you may have to split the low half, plus there will be fewer people to collect from. (Even so, an ace-deuce is usually still worth playing.)

Because Omaha eight-or-better has the same structure as Texas hold'em, and because even reasonably good players tend to find reasons to play certain hands, if you just play tight before the flop, you will beat even the toughest games. (This should change as more people study this text.) But remember, in the looser games, you will cost yourself some profit.

There is a lot more play to this game than there appears to be. For example, if someone bets, you might need to raise to squeeze another player off a low draw when you also have a low draw. Even though it doesn't seem that you can knock out an ace-deuce draw, sometimes it doesn't pay for an opponent to draw after the flop. Consequently, if he plays well, he just might throw away his hand. (This works against only a few very good players.)

Even before the flop, you sometimes must make plays like reraising to knock out players behind you so that you are last to act. It is very advantageous to have the last position. It also is often good to be first to act. Problems can occur when you are in the middle.

The idea is to play hands that can develop into two-way hands, where you can either scoop or three-quarter an opponent. For example, suppose you have As 2c 6d 7d You may wish to raise, because you don't want someone holding a hand like 6h 7c 8d 9s to also play in a multiway pot.

Notice that this player can make a higher straight than you can make, plus you can get quartered by tying for the low with some other player. Again, there is a lot more to this game than just playing technically correct.

The hands that tend to do well are those containing ace-deuce and ace-deuce-trey. Having a suited card with the ace is also beneficial. In a lot of spots, four high cards do well, because if this hand wins, there probably will not be a low.

Three big cards that include an ace, plus a deuce or a trey, are also good hands. But if the other low card with the ace is not a deuce or a trey, you should throw the hand away. For example, Ah 5c Kh Js almost always should be discarded. This hand might become playable only if your opponents are playing very poorly and you can see the flop for one bet, or if you are in a very late position and no one has raised. Also, note that when two low cards hit the board, all high hands go way down in value. Assuming that you win the high, you are now likely to split the pot if another low card comes.

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