Omaha vets watch for loose fish - novices, loose poker players

Aug 7, 2012 3:09 AM

The fisherman against the fish – expert players pitting their skills against novices, loose players and other undisciplined souls. That’s how Omaha high-low usually goes.

Those humongous piles of chips in multiway pots are ample bait to suck unwary fish into the nets of good fishermen.

Loose players who don’t tighten up quickly go belly up. But even if you only have average poker skills, you can enjoy Omaha high-low and be successful in low-limit games.

This is not to say a mediocre player can be a whopping success, but an average player enjoys a wider margin for success than he does in limit or no-limit hold’em because so many low-limit Omaha high-low players actually play the game very poorly.

Also, you don’t need to use as many of the stratagems common to other poker games. The most useful and most common play in Omaha high-low is the simple, straightforward bet with a playable hand.

An expert poker player accustomed to playing at the higher limits may suffer from a decreased ability to put his opponents on an exact hand in loose low-limit games, where it is not unusual for six or more players to enter the pot. Of course the real expert inevitably shines in any poker game.

One dyed-in-the-wool hold’em player described it this way: “I can’t disguise my hand; I can’t check-raise the turkeys to get ‘em out; I can’t bluff the pot; I can’t even slow play for profit. What’s left?!”

Well, it’s the straight-out bet, the occasional disguise, the rare check-raise with the opposite-nut hand, the now-and-then slow play, and the almost-never bluff. Omaha high-low is a “bet ’em when you get ’em” game.

Although it’s tough to know where you are all the time, the expert Omaha high-low player who plays “nutsmanship” is still a favorite to win in the long run.

The river is where it’s at in low-limit games. More hands are made or destroyed by the profitable or devastating currents on the Omaha high-low river than in hold’em. Nonetheless, you must be willing to see the river to survive – the fear of consequences and a reluctance to go the distance have no place in this game.

This nerve-wracking characteristic of Omaha-high low is what hooks a poker buddy of mine into the game. He loves the tension and the suspense.

Of course, good fishermen temper their willingness to navigate the river’s currents by whether they believe it will be profitable to make the trip, the odds the pot is offering, and how much it costs to get there. We’ll get into that in the next column.