Playing the turn and river is where it gets expensive in limit Omaha 8-or-better
|There’s rarely a justification to slow-play or check-raise in Omaha 8-or-better, so bet as if your life depended on it|
In my previous articles on Omaha 8-or-better (aka Omaha 8 or Omaha hi/lo), I explained the types of hands you should play pre-flop and how to proceed on the flop for those hands. In this article,
I’m going to look at some strategies for playing the turn and the river, which if you’ve followed what I’ve laid out in the previous articles should be relatively simple. It’s so simple in fact that I’m going to lay out the types of turns and rivers you should be looking for, how to bet or raise when you encounter them, and then provide you with several examples to show you what I am talking about.
LOW-ONLY HANDS AND DRAWS
The main question you should be asking with a low-only hand on the turn is: did you hit your low or not? If you did not, you need to ask yourself if the pot is worth fighting for. If you only have to call one bet and there are 30 bets in the middle, the answer is obvious. But what if you have to call four bets with only 16 bets in the middle?
In effect, you are calling four bets to win eight (as your low hand is only in a position to win half the pot). Is it worth it to call four bets just for a less-than-even-money chance to win half the pot? This is the key factor you should be considering when deciding whether or not to proceed with a low draw on the turn. If half the pot is worth it, proceed. If it isn’t, throw your hand away.
Let’s say you have A-2-x-x and have seen the turn with five other players. There’s a total of 20 bets in the middle. The turn does not bring the low. You are in late position and have called a bet from a middle-position player. The big blind check-raises and everyone calls the two bets at the higher limit (remember, this is limit poker, so the betting limit doubles after the flop).
There are now 40 small bets in the pot and it will cost you one big bet to call. You are getting 20/1 on your money and half the pot is definitely worth playing for. You can comfortably make this call.
WHEN YOU MAKE YOUR LOW
If you’ve made your low hand, the question now turns to whether you want to bet, raise or just call. The problem with most low hands is that even when they win they will often find themselves getting quartered because they are shared with another person. Everyone plays hands containing A-2. Everyone raises nut lows. If you get into raising wars with a low-only hand, it will be the person with the high hand that benefits.
A good rule of thumb is to just flat-call bets if there are less than four people in the pot. If there are five or more, then raise. In that instance, even if you are quartered you are going to turn a profit, and there aren’t enough times where you are going to split a low three ways to make this an unprofitable play. If you are in late position and it is checked to you, I’d also bet the low because you might be able to scoop the whole pot by doing so.
Even if you make your low-only hand you have to beware of getting quartered. However, if there are five or more people still in a hand you should make money regardless, so you can go ahead and bet
HIGH-ONLY HANDS AND DRAWS
The only question that needs to be asked on the turn here is: ‘Is the pot worth the size of the bets I am calling?’ One key factor is whether there is a qualifying low out there. If there is, you know that at best you are only going to get half the pot. Take this into consideration when making your decision. If no low has arrived, you know there is still the possibility of scooping the pot, so calling larger bets is a reasonable option.
Let’s say you have K-Q-J-10 and see the flop from the big blind with the small blind and button. There are three bets in the pot. The flop comes A-10-6 and you check-call a bet from the button, as does the small blind, making six bets in the pot. The turn is a 9. The small blind checks, you check, the button bets and the small blind raises. There are now 14 bets in the pot so you are getting 3.5/1 on your money.
While you don’t know what hands you are up against, you’re likely facing one person with a made high hand and another with a draw to the low. It will vary, but generally speaking you will win the whole pot about 30% of the time, or about 2.3/1. It’s close, but because of the scoop potential, calling here is a +EV play over the long haul.
If you hit your high-only hand on the turn, it pretty much plays itself (remember, you are practising strict hand selection here, so when you make your hand it will generally be strong). Bet. Raise. Re-raise. It’s that simple. Make people with high draws and low draws pay. Only if you risk being outdrawn (when the board pairs, for example) should you proceed with caution. Often the best play in that situation is to check and/or check-call, because the likelihood of someone having improved is high.
HIGH AND LOW HANDS AND DRAWS
You should never, or almost never fold hands with both a high and low draw on the turn in limit Omaha 8. The scoop potential is just too high to warrant it. In fact you can make an argument for betting these hands as strongly on the turn as you did on the flop.
Let’s say you have A?-A?-2?-5?. The flop comes 3?-4?-9? and you cap it along with three other players. The turn is a 10?. With no help on the turn, You can find out more about Aaron Hendrix, his background and mentor programmes at his website many people would play conservatively here and just check or check-call a bet. That would be a mistake. You should be betting and raising.
Let’s cheat a little and say in this instance we know what our opponents’ hands are. Player one has A-2-K-Q, player two has 9-9-8-8 and player three has A-6-J-Q. What do you think your equity is here? It’s 33%. Suffice it to say, there is absolutely no situation where you should just be checking or calling when you are getting 33% equity on your hand and there are already 20 bets in the pot in a multi-way pot.
WHEN YOU HIT HUGE
If you hit both your draws what do you do? Omaha players don’t like to fold. Omaha players typically also don’t like to call. If they have the nut low, they are usually going to raise. If they have a good high hand, they are usually going to raise. When you have a hand like A-A-2-5 and the board is A-3-4-4, you’re going to be getting action and lots of it.
There is very rarely a justification to slow-play or check-raise in Omaha 8, so make it simple – bet as if your life depended on it. Look your opponent in the eyes and tell them ‘your money is mine’. They won’t care; they’ll gladly give it to you. It’s what makes this game so much fun sometimes: people love giving their money away, and you should be more than happy to take it.
You should never fold a hand with both high and low draws on the turn, because of the potential to scoop the pot. And if you hit a monster high and low hand, don’t slow-play. People love to bet and raise in Omaha 8, so get your money in!