In low-limit Omaha high-low games, some hands play admirably against multiple opponents, while others stand up better against only 1 or 2.
It’s important to ask yourself, “How many players are in the pot?” If there is little money and few players – and if you can probably win only half of it – you should lose interest quickly to save your chips for a better situation on a future flop.
However, if you are heads-up against another player and you think you are both playing a high hand, you could win the entire pot. In that case, it’s worth your while to take a big draw. But when only a few players are in the hand, the pot is small, and you’re facing a probable split pot, bow out early.
Another important question is, “How much money is in the pot?” The amount of money in the pot is directly proportional to the number of players who are in it, and/or whether it was raised before the flop. To decide whether to continue, ask yourself, “How much money can I earn if I win this pot? Half the pot? One-fourth?”
Also ask, “How much money is likely to be in the pot on the river?” This is the principle of implied odds. Again ask yourself, “How much of this pot do I stand to win?” Your answer will depend in part upon your ability to put other players on hands. If you can determine who probably holds the nut low and who most likely has a high draw, it will be easier to decide where you stand.
By questioning how much money is in the pot, what will probably be there on the river, and the amount you can win, a quality decision can be made. All top-notch players do this automatically.
“Was the pot raised before the flop?” A lot of low-limit players who hold a super low hand such as an A-2 suited with another wheel card often raise before the flop. Many people also raise with big high hands such as a pair of aces with suited connectors.
If you hold an A-3 in a raised pot and the flop contains three low cards that do not include the ace or deuce, assume that an opponent has an A-2. Also consider whether the player who probably holds the A-2 is likely to also have a 3 – thus giving you only a quarter-pot potential even if you make your hand.
If you hold a high hand in a raised pot and catch a high flop, consider whether it is likely that the raiser flopped trips higher than yours, a higher straight draw, or a better flush draw. In other words, should you play the hand cautiously or ram it full steam ahead?
Important knowledge in deciding whether to continue past the flop includes: (a) knowing the kinds of hands players most frequently raise with; (b) understanding who usually plays low hands and likes to raise with A-2 suited; (c) knowing who would only raise with a high hand. How do you learn these things? You watch while you’re waiting so you can win more.
Because there is more money in raised pots and the quality of hands is likely to be higher, you should seldom enter raised pots with less than premium cards. And you definitely should not continue unless you hold either the nut hand or have a draw to it.
Deciding whether to continue past the flop is one of your most important decisions in low-limit Omaha high-low. Making weak draws based on emotions rather than pot odds, holding onto a hand that was a beauty going in but turned into a beast after the flop are costly errors.
As Ben Franklin said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Do you suppose he played poker?
Shane Smith is the author of Omaha High-Low, How to Win at the Lower Limits, available at Gamblers Book Club. You can contact Shane Smith at [email protected].