Getting to Love the Flop
Each of the three stages of dealing the community cards in Omaha Hi Lo is given its own name. The Flop, the Turn and the River. The flop consists of three cards being dealt face up, and is the first opportunity a player has to see the true potential of their cards irrespective of how “Good”, “Viable” or “Speculative” their starting hands were.
However, potential is all that Omaha Hi Lo hands have at this stage (unless a player has flopped a Royal Straight for a Hi hand or an Ace-Five straight for a Lo hand), as each player will have numerous outs to improve their hands when the next two cards are dealt. Over-betting on a “small” made hand (such as three of a kind or a straight) can prove costly at this stage if other players feel that they have a good chance of winning either the Hi or Lo pot.
To illustrate this point, we are going to follow the fortunes of three players – Good George, Viable Victoria and Speculative Sam – in a hand of Omaha Hi Lo
George: K♣ K♠ A♠ 2♣
Victoria: 2♠ 3♦ 9♣ 10♣
Sam: 4♦ 5♠ 6♥ A♥
Whereas George undoubtedly had the strongest starting hand, the flop of 7♥ 8♥ J♣ gives Victoria a straight. George is now hoping that a Three, Four, Five or Six is dealt on the Turn or River so that he can pick up half the pot for having the best Lo hand while Sam will be looking for a Heart to complete his flush draw.
Getting to Loathe the Turn
After the post-flop round of betting has been concluded, a single Turn card is dealt face up alongside the three flop cards. If one player has already made a good Lo hand, they are likely to force the betting and it can be a folly to match their bets without a made Hi hand.
In our example, Victoria is likely to push the betting because of her made straight – bad news for George and Sam; but they have plenty of outs, so both call Victoria´s post-flop raise.
The turn card is the K♥ – great news for Sam, who has now made his heart flush and who raises the pot on this occasion; while George has a set of Kings and still has hopes of picking up the card he needs to make the best Lo hand, so calls Sam´s raise.
Victoria studies her player notes, sees that she has caught Sam bluffing before, and also makes the call believing that George would have re-raised if he had completed a heart flush. According to Victoria´s odds calculator, she also has a 9% chance of hitting an Ace that would give her the best Lo hand.
Getting to Sink on the River
As in our example above, the relative strength of hands can change in a single card. Players who have held the strongest “made” hands before the river can see the chances of them scooping the pot sunk without trace when the single River card is dealt face up to complete the community board.
In our example, the River card is the 8♣. Victoria still has her flopped straight and Sam his Turned flush, but George wins the hand with a Full House (Kings over Eights) and scoops the whole pot as there is no qualifying Lo hand.
A Little Note about Bet Sizing
There is often a fine line between good and bad bet sizing, and in Omaha Hi Lo it can often be better to bet a player out of a hand by big raises in the early rounds of betting, than try to maximise the value of a “small” made hand and end up losing everything.
In Flop Limit Omaha Hi Lo poker speculative hands win more frequently than in other betting formats, as players holding speculative hands in Pot Limit Omaha Hi Lo and No Limit Omaha Hi Lo prior to the River are likely to have been bet out of the action by showdown – i.e. it would cost too much for a player to call a pot sized raise based on the odds of them making the best hand.
In our example – if it was played at either Pot Limit or No Limit – both Victoria and Sam would be kicking themselves for failing to make it too expensive for George to call their bets. George on the other hand was completely justified in continuing in the hand after entering it with the strongest hole cards.