Value of strong starting hand in cannot be overestimated

Oct 2, 2012 3:00 AM

The value of a strong starting hand in Omaha high-low cannot be overestimated. “Omaha high-low is a hand-value driven game,” T.J. Cloutier said in Championship Omaha. Unlike the stock market, blue-chip hands never vary in their value to your winning potential. 

But these hands are as elusive as the fabled butterfly of love and they are just about as hard to catch. So, many low-limit players put away their nets and start playing the following over-rated Omaha high-low hands.

A-2 With No Backup Low Card

With no extra outs for a low draw, this hand often gets counterfeited. That is, an ace or a deuce comes on the board and decimates your former nut low. It seems to be a cruel trick of Lady Luck that the counterfeit card usually arrives at the river, after it has cost you a bundle to your former nut low.

A-A Without Connectors or Suited Cards

Pocket aces are far more powerful in high Omaha than in Omaha high-low. For example, suppose you have two aces and the flop comes A-10-4. Anyone with a hand such as 2-3-4-5, K-Q-J-10, or A-2-3-10 will be drawing to it. If another wheel card appears, you will lose to a wheel. If another low card comes, you will split the pot, and if a high connector flops, you could lose to a high straight. Usually, you cannot raise these players out of their draws in a multiway pot. Keep in mind that low-limit games are almost always played multiway, with five to seven players in every pot.

K-Q-Q-X, J-J-10-X Without Connectors or Suited Cards

Big pairs are also stronger holdings in high Omaha. They work better at the higher limits in Omaha high-low because fewer players contest each pot, so that you have fewer people to outdraw. High hands lose value–especially the three-legged ones–when two low cards appear on the flop. Play them cautiously and usually in late position only.

Four Low to Middle Cards in Sequence

Examples include 3-4-5-6 and 4-5-6-7. Expert players usually fold this type of hand preflop. They know that when a low straight is possible, a nut low usually is also out there. In essence, they have a draw for only half the pot with no potential for a scoop unless the A-2 also is on the board. And of course, the low end of a high straight usually is also a stone loser.

An Under-Rated Hand

The double-flush draw with the potential for a backdoor flush gives this hand a powerful extra out that many players underestimate. A nut flush cannot be duplicated by any other hand. And when you make a backdoor flush on the river, it usually doesn’t need to be the nut flush to win the pot.

Contact Shane Smith at [email protected]