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Omaha High/Low: Patience Is A Togel Virtue

“A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.” So says a Dutch proverb. Whether you believe that or not for how you play hold’em, it is very true for Omaha high/low.

Why? Well, recently I played a typical session of Omaha. Seated to my right was a gentleman (I’ll call him Sam, not his real name) who proudly exclaimed, as he sat down, “I’m going to play EVERY HAND [his emphasis] before the flop, and NO ONE is going to stop me.” Nobody did.

Sam started off gangbusters. He played his 8777 and made a full house (board of 9878Q), and scooped a huge pot. Soon after that he picked up a real hand, As2s35, and scooped a monster pot. He won a few pots, here and there, during the four hours that followed, but he made eight rebuys, and went home broke.

Many players, when they first play Omaha high/low, see that they get four cards (which equates to six hold’em hands), and think that they can play looser than hold’em. A good rule of thumb to remember is that the more cards you’re dealt (in a game), the fewer hands you should be playing.

An Omaha hand where all the cards are working together is much more valuable than four scattered Togel cards. If we look at the two hands cited above (8777 and As2s35), we can see some reasons why this is the case.

The first hand is a trash hand. Of the six card combinations, four are duplicates. Additionally, it is hard to scoop a pot when you hold middle cards. In any high/low game, you should be aiming to take the whole pot – not half a pot. Contrast the first hand with As2s35 – four cards that work together that can make many nut lows, a nut flush, and nut straights. The second hand is a powerhouse (in Omaha high/low), while the first hand is a piece of cheese.

So the next time you play Omaha, remember what your mother told you – patience is a virtue. Fold may have four letters, but it is not a four-letter word.

“It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety.” – Isaac Asimov

My last article (available at http://www.thepokerforum.com/omahahilow3.htm) discussed some of the basics of probability theory and how they apply when maniacs sit at your table. This article looks at whether maniacs’ behavior is sensible and keeping track of your own statistics.

Last week I was sitting in my usual $6/$12 Omaha high-low game (with a full kill to $12/$24) when Mike the maniac sat down. Mike is independently wealthy, which is a good thing at the poker table – he folds less than 3% of his hands, and he raises most of the time. Mike was winning, eating, and raising (not necessarily in that order). Unlike Las Vegas, in California you can eat at the table. The cardroom I play at comps food and Mike partakes very generously in it.

Anyway, Mike was sitting in the 5 seat (I was in seat 8), when this hand occurred. I was UTG and folded (my hand is irrelevant), there was an early caller (Olma, the subject of an earlier article, holding A258), Mike raised (holding KJ74), the big blind (holding AQ29) and the early position caller both calling the raise. Of course you know who the favorite is, right?

Well, sometimes things are obvious, and sometimes they are not. At a table where everyone would see the flop, Mike would be a large underdog (with odds of about 12.5-1 versus a random hand’s 8-1). However, Mike’s raise (and everyone else’s lack of good cards) caused this flop to be seen by only two others. According to Mike Caro’s Poker Probe, Olma is a slight favorite over Mike (1.86-1 versus 1.99-1) and both have better odds than the big blind (2.17-1). On this particular hand, the board ended up 344/5/6. Mike’s 7-high straight took the high; Olma and the big blind chopped the low with a wheel.

Unfortunately for Mike, he has winning sessions, like the one last week. Mike forgets that for every winning session he has four or five losing sessions. Then why, you may ask, did I use an example where Mike’s raise probably led to a good result?

It is important to remember that maniacs will hold premium hands at the same rate as you and I. When a maniac hold such a hand, and he hits, he will usually scoop (or chop) a huge pot because no one will believe him. Second, the actions of maniacs do make their chances of winning individual pots higher. If a maniac strings enough of these winning hands together, he will have a large winning session.

Unfortunately for Mike (and fortunately for you and I), statistically he is in trouble. Mike is an underdog on most of the hands he plays. Over time he will lose. For example, small statistical advantages are what built Las Vegas. Action does not work well in low-limit Omaha; patience does. A friend told me that Mike dropped over $1,000 in the game over the weekend (about what he won when I saw him). Mike can afford these losses; if you want action in an Omaha game ask yourself if you can afford to lose $1,000 per session (in a $6/$12 Omaha game). If the answer is no, or you’d prefer to win, you must become a patient and prudent player.

Patience and prudence do not guarantee a winning session. Luck factors into Omaha; thus, there are days when you will lose. My records show (over the last two years) one losing session for every three to four winning sessions.

Are you keeping records of your results? You should – it’s the only way to know if you’re improving as a player. I may be a good player (the owner of this website thinks enough of my play that he’s asked me to write these articles) but I set goals for myself each year that involve learning more about the game.

To keep records, go to an office supply store and purchase a small memo pad (I just bought three for $1.50 at Office Depot). For each session I record the date, the location (e.g. casino/cardroom), the table number, the starting and ending time, and the monetary result. A line might look like:

2/7 Bike 6/12O8 T3 1p-7:15p +125

Use whatever format you like, but the above is the essential information you should have. I transfer the data to an Excel spreadsheet where I can further analyze the information. In the back of my notebook I take notes of important hands and information about players.

Next month’s article will take a look at one of my pet peeves, upsetting the applecart.