Buzzers at the ready

Try this quiz for a number of poker teasers covering everything from bankroll management to basic odds

I want to cover some under-appreciated topics in this quiz. We’ll start out with Omaha eight-or-better, aka Omaha hi /lo or simply Omaha 8. It’s dealt in the same way as Omaha, the difference being that at a showdown the pot is split between the best traditional poker hand and the best Ace-to-five lowbal l hand. Low hands are ranked by their highest card and straights and flushes don’t count, so 6-5-4-3-2 beats 7-4-3-2-A, and both hands lose to 5-4-3-2-A (‘the wheel ’). For a low hand to qual if y it must consist of five cards ranked 8 or lower, with no pairs (hence the name ‘eight-or-better’). If nobody has a low hand, the best high hand scoops the entire pot.


Q1 What is your number one goal in asplit-pot game like Omaha 8?



Trying to win as often as possible is a trap that a lot of inexperienced poker players fall into. If you want to win as often as possible you should play every single hand and raise as much as possible whenever possible. That way, your opponents will either fold or you’ll win every pot that you’re entitled to at showdown. However, it’s obvious that you’ll lose money playing this way. It is much better to win the occasional big pot than to try to win every single one.

Another trap that beginners fall into is bluffing too much. Despite what TV shows might suggest, bluffing is just a small part of poker, and a lot of players bluff far too often. In some variants, just having good fundamentals can be enough to win without ever having to bluff. Omaha 8 is such a game, at least at small stakes, and in a typical game you should hardly bluff at all.

In any split-pot game, whether it’s Omaha 8, badugi or double-flop hold’em, the number one goal is to win the entire pot, or ‘scoop’. The best way to do that is to start with a hand that has two-way potential and play aggressively when you have a hand that can win both halves of the pot.

A You should always be looking to win the whole pot when entering a hand. In general, you should only play hands with good draws to both the high and the low and avoid those which can only win half the pot.

Q2 I have A?-2?-3?-6? and you have 2?-3?-9?-J?. The board is A?-4?-5U-7?-J?. What portion of the pot would you win at a showdown?



You started with a trash hand – two mediocre low cards and two mediocre high cards, all spades. The best you can expect is to make a mediocre hand and win a mediocre portion of the pot.

However, on this occasion you got very lucky and hit the perfect flop – or did you? For high, you use the 2-3 from your hand with the A-4-5 from the board to make a five-high straight. For low, you use the same cards to make the best possible low, 5-4-3-2-A.

I started with a coordinated hand, with excellent low chances plus straight and flush cards for high. I use the 2-3 from my hand to make the same low as you, 5-4-3-2-A. However, I can make a better high hand, using my 3-6 to make a 7-high straight.

Therefore, I win the high half of the pot, and we split the low.

A You win a quarter of the pot – a common scenario in Omaha 8. Getting quartered happens to everyone, but it will happen less often if you practise good hand selection.


Q1 You’re starting to play no-limithold ’em cash games, and you’ve allocated yourself a bankroll of $200. Assuming you’re a competent player, what stakes should you be playing?

A) $5/$10
B) $1/$2
C) $0.10/$0.20
D) $0.04/$0.08


If you play poker mainly for recreation you don’t need a bankroll. You can play whatever stakes you can afford, and replenish your bankroll from your regular salary if necessary. However, if you intend to take poker seriously and use it to make a long-term profit, you absolutely must learn to manage your bankroll to avoid going broke. The goal is to optimise your profit potential, while lowering your ‘risk of ruin’ to an acceptable level.

A good general guideline for no-limit hold’em cash games is that you should start out with a bankroll of 20 to 30 full buy-ins for the stakes you are playing. The bigger stakes you play, the more aggressive the game will be in general, and the bigger bankroll you will need.

The $5/$10 level is way too high, as you don’t have enough for a full buy-in, assuming this is a typical internet game. Similarly you only have enough for one full buy-in at $1/$2.

What about $0.10/$0.20? That’s ten full buy-ins, which might not seem like enough. However, if you’re the kind of player who can control their ego and move down in limits when necessary, you could take a shot at these stakes. However you absolutely must have the discipline to quit and drop down and still play your best game.

For most players, $0.04/$0.08 is a better choice. That’s 25 buy-ins, which should be enough against the weak players you’ll find at these limits. If you win a little at first, you could quickly move up to the more ubiquitous $0.05/$0.10.

A Don’t move up until you’ve proved you can comfortably beat your current stakes, and until you have 20 to 30 buy-ins at the higher level. It might take time, but it’s the best way to ensure that you never have to deposit again!

Q2 Tony is a losing player, playing$1/$2 no-limit hold’em. How big should his bankroll be to minimise his chances of going broke?

A) $200
B) $5,000

A If you are a losing player, no amount of bankroll management can save your money. The answer is ‘D’ – Tony should have infinite cash, or he will eventually go broke. Of course an alternative would be to study, learn and become a winning player. However the vast majority of players will never do that.


Q1 Before the flop, you have A-K andyour opponent has Q-Q. What is your equity in the pot?

A) 66%
B) 50%
C) 43%
D) 33%


Learning to think about poker in terms of your equity in the pot, as opposed to just ‘I have the best hand, he has the worst’, is one of the best things you can do for your poker career. Thinking about equity can help you make marginal but correct calls, and it can help you to deal with bad beats, which often aren’t quite as bad as they seem. There are innumerable websites that can perform equity calculations, or you can use a downloadable tool like PokerStove. It’s also good to know how to work out a few poker probabilities by hand. The A-K vs Q-Q confrontation is known as the ‘classic coin-flip’, but it’s a common misconception that this is a 50/50 confrontation.

A The actual odds are 57% to 43% in favour of the pocket Queens, so the correct answer is ‘C’.

Q2 On the turn in hold’em, you haveeight clean outs to make the best hand. If any other card appears you lose the pot. What is your equity?

A) 24.8%
B) 21.1%
C) 17.4%
D) 8%


This is the kind of calculation you can do yourself with some basic maths. You know your two hole cards, plus the three flop cards and the turn. That’s six known cards out of 52. Therefore, there are 46 unknown cards remaining. Of those 46 cards, eight will give you the best hand and 38 won’t. Your percentage equity is therefore 8 divided by 46, or 17.4%, so the correct answer is ‘C’. You can also express the figure in odds. You have 38 losses to 8 wins, which is 38/8 odds or 4.75/1.

A The correct answer is 17.4%. Knowing figures such as this is invaluable when it comes to making marginal calls on a draw.

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