| Thursday, October 31, 2013 |
At a recent Friday night home game, I was playing 1-2 flop games where the maximum buy in was $100. The dealer could choose between Hold ‘em, Omaha, Omaha 8 or Pineapple. I was already steaming from a prior hand when the following hand came up. My villain’s comment after the hand really set me off, but as I thought about it, I realized what a great topic his comment gave me.
The game called was Omaha 8 (Omaha hi/lo). I was on the button for the hand. A few players limped in, and I looked at A 2 3 K, Ace suited…one of the strongest Omaha 8 hands to be dealt. It’s so strong because I have connecting high cards, three connecting low cards and a suited Ace so I can make a number of nut high hands as well as nut low hands. The BB and a few of the limpers called.
The flop was gin for me as I it came down A 5 8 rainbow. I flopped nut low together with the top pair, top kicker. A player in front of me moved all in. I moved all in. The BB, who had checked, moved all in. The turn was a 2 destroying my low hand. The river was a K improving my high hand. The first all in revealed A 4 6 8. He had flopped top two, and turned a better low than me. My villain revealed A 2 9 K. He had flopped the same top pair, top kicker, but no low hand.
After the pot was divided with the villain and me sharing half the pot, my villain stated “Wow, we have the same hand.” Already steaming from a prior hand, I retorted that we hardly had the same hand. The cards might be similar, but the hands were nothing alike. After we exchanged words, we got back to playing and I didn’t think about it until the next day.
Laid out side by side the hands look like this:
Me – A 2 3 K
Villain – A 2 9 K
Player 3 – A 4 6 8
The key difference is obviously the 9 held by the villain. By calling with this hand, my villain took a three card hand against a button raise, with players still left to act. This is a 3 card hand because the 9 is useless. You cannot use the 9 for anything unless you flop a miracle 99x. It cannot be used in a low hand, so villain’s sole low cards are the A2. The villain holds no connecting cards so it cannot be used in a straight. If it happens to be suited with the ace, it does add a little value to the hand, but in this case it was not.
After the flop, I held the nut low and player 3 held the high for the moment. Running the hands through an odds calculator revealed some interesting statistics. After the flop I had a 13.27% chance to win high and a 70.58% chance to win low. Player 3 was 70.58% to win high and 21.6% to win low. Villain was 16.16% to win high and had no chance to win low. Keeping in mind the goal in high/lo is to scoop the pot, with a flopped low on board, the villain put his money in behind on both the high and the low with only a 16% chance to win high only. He was lucky to catch a K on the river to chop high, but for every dollar he put in the pot he could only win half the pot 16% of the time
My villain saw A2/AK and felt it was worth $15 preflop out of position. This is a common mistake made by Omaha 8 players. The mere fact you hold A2 does not mean you have to play the hand. When the pot is raised, you can expect the raiser to show up with A2 as well, and as was the case in this hand, another card to back up the low should the A or 2 get counterfeited. It is not wrong to fold an A2 hand when the cards accompanying it cannot help much, such as the 9 in this case.
My villain failed to realize his flop call was a disaster in the making. Another common Omaha 8 mistake is seeing three low cards on the board and thinking they have a low because they hold A2. However, as seen in this hand, the villain only had AK with no possibility for a low because his A was counterfeited and he had no back up low cards.
While three of the four cards my villain and I held were the same, our hands were far from the same. It is highly unlikely I am raising the button when I hold a 9 in my hand, so if you are calling with one in your hand, your hand is already weaker than mine and hardly the same.