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omaha hi/lo beginner's guide, part 1


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#1 akishore

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 12:41 PM

omaha hi/lo beginner's guidepart 1: the basicsi am, by no means, an expert on the game. however, at the low/micro-limits, this game is very beatable--easily. i feel i have enough skill at these limits to write a guide for it. remember, however, that all my advice is specifically for the low limits. it probably won't work effectively if you're playing with good people who actually know what they're doing.like hold'em, winners thrive more on bad players than on their own skill. unlike hold'em, the bad players are HORRENDOUS, not just bad. they have no understanding of basic strategy, and while hold'em can often reward bad players through schooling (giving each other pot odds) and luck, omaha does this to a much smaller degree.another difference is that while hold'em is a simple game to learn to the average person, omaha is not. with two cards, people recognize which cards are monsters (AA, AK, KK, etc.) and most have some sense of which cards are terrible (2-7, 2-8, etc.). omaha is not the case. people see potential in EVERY hand, and they don't have the ability to think what other people might hold.omaha is also a much more mathematical game. luck plays a much smaller role because often you can have the nuts on the flop or turn and other people can be drawing dead to baby straights/flushes/boats. you won't get huge suckouts as much, rather, you'll get mathematical draws that hit 1 in 3 times, e.g. nut flush draws.finally, some people complain that omaha is a river game (since the river is often vital to a hand). however, unlike hold'em, the river does not give bad beats--it gives mathematical probabilities. if you hold the nuts on the turn, 3 out of 4 times it will hold up, so you bet on the turn regardless of the possibility of drawing out. if you hold the nut flush draw, you will hit it 1 in 5 times on the river, so if the pot is 6-way, you bet. i can't stress it enough, omaha is a game of probabilities--if you play them, you WILL win.this game can be played fixed limit or pot limit, but IMHO it works best fixed limit.i will be doing this in parts since it might get long.enjoy!basic rules:two players left of dealer post small and big blinds. everyone is dealt four cards. small betting round (preflop). then the flop (three board cards). small betting round. then the turn/fourth street. big betting round. then the river/fifth street. big betting round. then showdown.the best five card hand MUST have TWO and ONLY TWO hole cards, and THREE and ONLY THREE board cards. e.g. if the board is AAAAK, the nuts would be KKxx for Aces full of Kings. four of a kind is not possible since you can only use three board cards. another important application of this is that to have a flush, you must have two cards of that suit in your hole (unlike hold'em where you can have a flush with only one card).the high hand is the best five-card hand. the low hand is the same as any other split pot game. a low hand must have all five cards be 8 or lower. so if the board has three cards 8 or lower, a low hand is possible. otherwise, no low hand qualifies.low hands are read from high card down. 87654 is the worst low hand, while 5432A is the best low hand. since you read top-down, remember that 65432 beats 7432A (even though the first one has no ace). a good way to think of it is to think of the hand as a five-digit number--the lowest value wins. so 65 thousand beats 74 thousand, doesn't matter what the three lower cards are.the nuts:omaha hi/lo at the low limits is all about the nuts. 9 out of 10 hands, the nut high will win the high pot. 9 out of 10 qualifying low hands, the nut low will win. practice reading the nuts on the board and get used to relating your hand to the nuts. board: 5 :D 6 :) 8 :) K :D nut high: A :) x :D nut low: A2 any suitnut high draws: KK, 88, 66, 55, K8, K6, K5, 86, 85, 65, 3 :) 4:diamond: , 4 :D 7 :) , 7 :) 8 :club: nut low draws: A3, 23in the above example, if you don't have one of the above hands--either nuts or a nut draw--get out of the hand. you are drawing dead the vast majority of the time. personally, the nut low draws aren't good enough. you're drawing to at best 4 outs, but i listed them for the sake of saying that you are drawing to the nuts. with sets and two pair, you're drawing to boats, but really, the only one worth staying around for is KK. with others, if the board pairs (and doesn't give you quads), you will often be a baby boat. the straight flush draws aren't too good, either, you're drawing to two outs if it's open-ended or one out if it's gutshot.so taking all of that into consideration, the only draw worth staying around for is KK. the rest are longshot draws (by all means, if you have the odds, go for it, but beware having the second-best hand). one note is that if the board is paired, quads are the nuts, and are not uncommon. but if you have top boat, bet freely, and don't stick around with middle set hoping for quads because it's a one-outter.counterfeiting:if you hold A2KK, and the board is 34J9, don't be overly aggressive! while you have the nut low draw, you have no counterfeit protection. what i mean is that if an A or a 2 lands, you no longer have a low hand at all (three low board cards, but you only have one low non-pairing card in the hole). that's why it's important to play hands with counterfeit protection if you're aiming for the low. A234 is the best counterfeit protecting nut low draw hand. A23x is good, A24x is good, etc.you can also get counterfeited in your hole cards. if you're dealt AAAA, fold. you have no chance at anything but one pair, no low. if you're dealt AAAx, fold. many people get excited with pocket aces, not realizing that one of their two outs is dead. fold any three of a kind, i can't stress that enough!being suited/connected:when you have two cards of the same suit, you vastly increase the versatility of your hand, especially if the A is suited. ideally, the best hands are DOUBLE suited, meaning you have two diamonds and two clubs, for example. keep in mind that since omaha hi/lo is a game of the nuts, you want both to be suited with an A, or maybe a king (if an ace lands on the board).when you have two cards that connect, you also increase your chances of hitting a straight draw, just like in hold'em. if you have AKxx or KQxx, you have a chance at hitting a nut straight draw. similarly, if you have a hand that's four-straight (AKQJ for example), you have a great hand that serves as a wraparound straight draw, but i'll get to that later. just remember, suited is good, connecting is good, and double suited/connected is even better.scooping:the best hands are ones that aim to win both the high AND the low. this can earn you MONSTROUS pots, and i mean in the vicinity of 30-40 big bets! AA23 double suited is the best possible hand... why? because you have two nut flush possibilities, a nut boat possibility, and a monstrous nut low draw with counterfeit protection. with hands that work similarly and aim to win the whole pot (AK23, AAK2, AK24, etc.), scooping gives you a huge edge in a game.getting quartered:if you have the nut low and so does someone else does as well, you have been quartered--it's a bad experience. what this means is that the high hand will take half the pot, while the low half is split between the two nut lows, so you effectively get a quarter of the pot. same idea if you have the nut high that someone else does as well (rare but possible).with experience, you will recognize these situations. what's important is that you don't get overly aggressive in these situations, and here's why. if at the river, the pot is three-way and each of you put in $80, you add $240 to the pot. if you get quartered, you only get $60 back. you lost $20. if you capped the pot so each of you put in $160, the pot grows by $480, but each of you get only $120 back, so you lost even more, $40. so the more you raise, the more you lose.if the pot is four-way, you will break-even. if the pot is five-way or more, you MUST raise aggressively so that you can make a profit. it's possible to get only 1/6 of the pot if three people share the nut low/high, but that is extremely rare.on the flip side of the coin, having a powerful hand that aims for both high and low can be a monster in this situation, because you can get 3/4 of the pot if you win nut high and split nut low! if the pot is heads up and you have nut low with a decent high, be aggressive because even two pair can hold up for high hand and you can get 3/4 of the pot.preflop hands:omaha hi/lo is all about having the best hands preflop. with premium hands, you will dominate MANY other hands and can get huge pots. the best hands work together in some way. they should combine to give you straight value, flush value, full house value, or low value.premium high hands want less people in. AA9T for example should be played aggressively to thin the field, but if the pot is big, don't stay around if you don't hit your set or nut flush draw. same with KKxx and QQxx. if you have a hand like AKQJ, especially if the A and K are double-suited, you have a great hand for taking the high. The reason is that if any two broadway cards land, you have a wrap-around straight-draw and it's even better if two cards of your suit land, giving you a nut flush possibility as well.wrap-around straight draws are powerful in omaha, especially if the board is rainbow, unpaired and you have the nut straight possibility. if you have a hand like KQJT and the board is Q9x, you have 13 outs to the nut straight draw (3 kings, 3 jacks, 3 tens, 4 eights). if you have a draw like this, the implied odds also double because this either prevents a qualifying low (if the third card is not 8 or below) or it makes a low hand very unlikely (two low cards have to fall runner-runner). these kinds of draws are great because you have a chance to scoop the pot when no low hand qualifies.with low hands, you want counterfeit protection. having an A is vitally important if you want to go for the low. A2xx is ideal because you're drawing to any low card from 3 to 8. A3xx, on the other hand, is dangerous, because you're drawing to a 2 to have the nut low, but it's worth a shot if you're in late position and can see a cheap flop. same goes for 23xx, you're drawing to an A to get the nut low, and this can be quite beneficial because often it'll counterfeit other players' aces to prevent them from having nut low (decreasing the chances of you getting quartered).conclusion:so you should have some idea of how to play omaha hi/lo now. i'm not a fan of pre-flop starting hand lists for omaha hi/lo because there are literally thousands of combinations, and so you can't narrow the best hands into top 16 hands, etc. just remember some key things...- having an ace is important!- you want hands that aim to win the whole pot, preferably, otherwise you want hands that have a high chance of being the nut hand in either direction- your cards should work together. A239 is better than A28T, but A234 is even better. the more cards you have that work with eacher, the greater your chance at winning the pot is, exponentially.- being suited and connected greatly improve your hand.- always try to go for the nuts, and be cautious if you don't have it- always remember the possibility of being counterfeited- try to recognize situations where you might get quartered, and minimize your losses or maximize your profits depending on how many people are in the pot.i hope this guide helps. if you have any suggestions, corrections, criticisms, flames, praise, etc., feel free to post below. what i wrote is my style of playing, it might not work for some people, but i guarantee you will rake in much moola if you play like this.enjoy!aseempart 2 - http://www.fullconta...opic.php?t=3391

#2 jayistheman

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 12:52 PM

thanks man... im gonna give it a try on prima tonight

#3 akishore

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 12:57 PM

jayistheman said:

thanks man... im gonna give it a try on prima tonight
no, don't! that's where i play, i don't want my cash cow to spoil when people start to actually know what they're doing. jk :-) from my experience on prima, there's a fixed limit 5c/10c table that's usually full in the afternoon (eastern time), but late at night (2am eastern time), after that table has emptied out, a 25c/50c table starts up and goes until 6am or so.aseem

#4 jayistheman

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 01:04 PM

hmm.... i gotta get up at 8 (eastern) for work every day... im usually just finishing up my sessions on the NL 50's and 100's on royal vegas around 1ish.... kind of a shame that the bigger game doesnt start up til later, but i should probly stick to smaller stakes until i get a good feel for the game anyway. I'll just throw a table in with my regular multitabling hold em i guess.

#5 akishore

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 01:11 PM

jayistheman said:

but i should probly stick to smaller stakes until i get a good feel for the game anyway. I'll just throw a table in with my regular multitabling hold em i guess.
be careful multitabling! i tried mixing omaha hi/lo and hold'em once and it was a disaster. the two mindsets required are very different. premium hands in hold'em are not always premium hands in omaha, and definitely vice versa. i once folded folded A246 in omaha when multitabling because it just seemed like A rag at the moment, etc. those mistakes are not uncommon.i'd strongly suggest doing just one omaha hi/lo table by itself, low limit. why? because you can practice reading the board and immediately recognizing the nut hands. you can start to see situations where someone got quartered and you can use that to your advantage when you have the nut high and it's getting jammed or when you have the nut low and it's getting jammed (in the first case, keep jamming, if you take half the pot you're showing a big profit. in the second case, consider folding if the betting is very aggressive on the turn with a made nut low, because you might be losing money on the turn and river unless the pot is 5-way or more).you'll also go through a phase when you first start playing where you'll play a lot of hands, because they will look like they have a lot of potential. this is inevitable, i went through this phase too, but after a while, you start to appreciate the importance of an A, of counterfeit protection, of being suited, etc.also, when you don't play hands and just watch the table, you'll start to see the nuts are usually with very similar starting hands (maybe 75% of the nut hands will have an A, the nut low will usually be with A2 or A3 or 23, the scoops will usually be A2xx double-suited, etc.). this will also make you appreciate premium hands more.so really, i'd strongly suggest not multitabling when learning omaha hi/lo.just my two cents,aseem

#6 jayistheman

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 01:15 PM

ok... fair enough. you seem to know, so i will gladly take that advice. ill give it a try later this week..thanks

#7 Blink20

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 01:19 PM

Yeah, multitabling can really screw you over sometimes, but its a good idea to maximize your profits once you get all the basics down.My only comment, don't click to fast b/c you'll find yourself accidently calling someone's all in with K 8 6 6 by mistake or something of that kind.Oh, and you MUST make fast decisions b/c its not cool to hold up the table.

#8 MDXS

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 01:23 PM

Thanks for taking the time to do this. I'm looking forward to reading more.And I wouldn't recommend mixing games when multitabling either.

#9 JohnnyFourthSt

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 01:26 PM

I read somewhere on the net that you are better off learning Omaha High and 7 Stud High before trying to tacke the Hi/Lo versions. What is your opinion?

#10 akishore

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 01:39 PM

JohnnyFourthSt said:

I read somewhere on the net that you are better off learning Omaha High and 7 Stud High before trying to tacke the Hi/Lo versions.  What is your opinion?
this definitely might be true. i never learned omaha hi, but rather just jumped into omaha hi/lo.the reason is that i read an article about how omaha hi/lo is such a pathetically easy game to beat at the low limits that i wanted to learn it right away. i can see your point, though.on the other hand, with hi/lo, the game is just more action-packed and loose, and if you can learn the game, it's so fruitful. it's also more fun.so i guess whatever floats your boat--if you want to get comfortable with four cards (e.g. wraparound straight draws, counterfeiting, etc.), learn hi first. but really, take the time to learn hi/lo, it's heaven. :-) aseem

#11 bsabres81

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 02:28 PM

I think it is almost detrimental to learn 7 stud before 7 stud H/L. There is absolutely no positive to learning 7 stud, because it doesn't carry over to H/L. In 7 stud you can play hands like (JK) J against a raiser showing a queen. You can't do that in H/L. In 7 stud A :) 2 :D 6 :) may or may not be playable. In H/L you should be willing to cap the pot with this hand. I see many people play starting hands like JQK in H/L. This is a terrible mistake.Learning Omaha before Omaha 8, while not necessary, can be beneficial. Beginning Omaha players often have trouble reading their hand in relation to the board. Also, you will learn that Omaha is a game where the nuts are normally out (no pun intended).akishore, your advice is very solid. Hopefully you will add something about pot manipulation, one of the most important advanced concepts in Omaha 8. If not, let me know, and I'll write something up on it.

#12 akishore

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 02:42 PM

Quote

akishore, your advice is very solid. Hopefully you will add something about pot manipulation, one of the most important advanced concepts in Omaha 8.
thanks. :-) and yes, i'll include pot manipulation in part 2. hopefully it'll probably be up tomorrow.aseem

#13 JaysonWeber

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 12:56 AM

I hear the warnings about multi tabling.... But I have not had problems with the seperate mindsets.. perhaps because I'm multi tabling Hold 'Em SnGo's and PL Omaha 8/b Low Limit Tables.I read SS2's Omaha Hi/Lo section and yes, hold'em players see value in EVERY omaha hand, I've now learned to play premium hands... thats what its about at these stakes I only come in on 8 hands... maybe a few other hands if I feel I can win it, or a lot of people are already in etc..I really enjoy the game and your information is right on, good job and hope to see you at the tables.
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#14 akishore

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 02:45 AM

JaysonWeber said:

I read SS2's Omaha Hi/Lo section
ss2 has an omaha hi/lo section??!??!?!holy shit!! another reason to be thankful that my girlfriend is getting it as a gift to me for valentine's day :-) .wow, i had no idea... i knew it had limit hold'em, no limit, razz, etc., but no idea it had omaha hi/lo. awesome!aseemp.s. i noticed you play pot limit. while i play fixed limit, i think you'll find a lot of the more advanced stuff i'm working on for part 2 more applicable to pot limit. similar to the differences between limit and no limit poker, in pot limit omaha you use less edges but capitalize big time on the huge edges. bluffing is also important and pot manipulation is much more important in pot limit than fixed limit. hopefully i'll put it up tomorrow sometime (today... it's 5 am, shit).

#15 JaysonWeber

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 03:26 AM

Yeah sounds good aki, Looking forward too it, as of now I play "dummy" omaha... My win percentage is around 5% and I play in 15-18% of the pots... But I win, I RARELY bluff, I'm just not accustomed to the game yet so I'll wait for that to be built in, I have utilized everything I know from Hold 'Em and Stud (basically theory of poker) and thats helped a lot. I really enjoy playing the game though, its a lot of fun so I hope I continue to work so hard to improve as I am now.
"Here are my rules: what can be done with one substance must never be done with another. No two materials are alike. No two sites on earth are alike. No two buildings have the same purpose. The purpose, the site, the material determine the shape. Nothing can be reasonable or beautiful unless its made by one central idea, and the idea sets every detail. A building is alive, like a man." - The Fountainhead.

#16 rsigley

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Posted 05 February 2005 - 04:05 PM

how do you play hands like 8899 if they'rea) double suitedB) maybe one suitedIs it worth at least seeing the flop?Just came across the hand in the BB in a .50/1 game and flopped quad 9's (then quad 8's by the time it was done, board was like 99488)But is that a hand typically worth playing or nah?

#17 akishore

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Posted 05 February 2005 - 06:31 PM

rsigley said:

how do you play hands like 8899 if they'rea) double suitedB) maybe one suitedIs it worth at least seeing the flop?Just came across the hand in the BB in a .50/1 game and flopped quad 9's (then quad 8's by the time it was done, board was like 99488)But is that a hand typically worth playing or nah?
good question.it's good that you flopped quads, but in general, hands like those aren't too great. HOWEVER, they're decent enough that you might want to see a cheap flop, e.g. in the blinds or in late position in an unraised pot.as for suited/double-suited, it doesn't matter--only nut flushes win in omaha hi/lo, not king-high or queen-high flushes. if you have a double-suited hand, it's not worth it unless both suits are king or ace-high (king-high would be nut flush if an ace of the same suit hit the board).however, be careful after the flop. often, people lose big pots with baby boats or baby sets on a ragged and unsuited board. what you want to look for is a top boat flop (e.g. 944, NOT JJ9, because there's a high probability someone will hit jacks full by the river) or quads. if you hit a flop like 29K, proceed, but proceed super cautiously.i can't stress enough how middle sets are extremely vulnerable in omaha hi/lo.hope this helps,aseem

#18 codyscherer

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Posted 08 February 2005 - 11:49 AM

I agree with Jayson on the multi tabling holdem and Omaha hi/low. I also play the sng's with it. I have noticed better results in my sng game actually while I have been doing this. I couldnt tell you the exact reason why yet, but it has worked. It might be the possitive attitude I get after scooping a big pot in Omaha. Knowing the game and playing hands that can scoop and getting out when you cant is key. So many people at those tables chase flushes with nothing else, they hit on turn and the board pairs on the river and they get crushed. They never learn. IT is funny. Playing in the multi table 10, 20 or 30 games is great too. Very easy to to get in the money at fixed and make a nice payday. Plus it is easy to play a ring game at the same time because those multis take about 3 hours to 150-200 people. Have any of you noticed a better bb per from playing at the 10 table or 6 table. I have not found either one much different profit wise, but wondered your thoughts.

#19 Nelson

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Posted 09 February 2005 - 07:47 AM

Here are some simple (overly at times) rules that are good for noobies of Omaha 8:1. Don't play a hand like A279 if your ace isn't suited. Your playing for 1/2 the pot and need a monster flop to make a high that is also the nuts. If the board flops 47K and there is a lot of action; someone has trips, someone has the flush draw; and the callers have A2 to go with a high draw. The point; This rule keeps new players out of situations where they are playing for 1/2 the pot and probably getting quartered in the process.2. Don't over value bottom set. With a hand like A44K and a flop of 4Q5; you have bottom set and only a runner..runner low draw. If the turn is 9 or higher, your probably beat on the high and can't make a low. If the action is tame on the turn; you might have the best hand but A2, 67, and flush draws are probably going to be calling. QQ will probably be pushing right on the flop and 55 might be hiding in the weeds afraid to do anything but call it down.3. Don't even consider A6 A7 and A8 as low draws pre-flop. You'll never have the nut low with these draws so why consider them playable?4. Think 2x about playing any hand with a 9 in it. why? because 9 is the worst card in a high/low game. It can't play for low and it usually gives you a non-nut straight. The only time a hand with a 9 in it is playable is if the other 3 cards make up for it's attendance in your hand. Example: A239 with A9 of clubs and 23 of hearts. This is worth a flop. However a hand like; A79Q where only the Q9 is suited is dangerous (and violates 2 other rules; no suited ace; A7 isn't a low draw).5. Flopped sets vs open boats. Which is better? OPEN BOATS!!!!Example; you have AKK3 and the board comes K225Q. You bet the flop and get called by 3 players. You check the turn and raise with the nut low draw and a boat. You get 2 callers. You come out betting the river and get raised!!! (massive amount in pot limit). Do you have the nuts? Nope. pocket 2's was the nuts on the flop and the river. Wouldn't it have been better if your hand was AKK2 on that flop? Then you'd have the blocker to the nuts giving you the information required to re-raise here.Example of an unbeatable Open boat; Hand AK35 - Board KK72A. On the river there is a lot of action; can you cap the betting? YES. You have the nuts for high because no one can have Quads and you have the second best low (which probably isn't worth anything with this much action) and you're probably getting two nut lows to give you more money without fear of quads.Rule: pocket pairs are not as good as open boats when it comes to having the nuts.Hope those thoughts help out a few players.
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#20 akishore

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Posted 09 February 2005 - 09:30 AM

nelson, good post. i am planning on making a post similar to yours in the coming future after reading a lot of annie duke articles (really excellent on omaha hi/lo), and some advice will be similar e.g. bottom set is not so great, etc.one thing to just point out that in your example, AK35 is not unbeatable on a KK72A board. someone with AAxx has the nut high, and 34xx has the nut low. granted, you will probably win the high because an AA would have probably folded, but at the lower limits, it's very common to see AAxx holding on to the river hoping for a set. also if the hand was AA3x, for example, the person would have stuck around hoping for the nut low.the boats you want to look for are when the board has the top card paired, and you have top boat. e.g. AKxx on an AAKxx board gives you the nuts, as opposed to AKxx on an AKKxx board or AAxx on an AKKxx board. plus, in the first case, if you only flop trips and not a boat, you have more outs to a boat than you would if you flopped a set (10 outs on both the turn and river, whereas if you flopped a set, you would have 7 outs on the turn and 10 on the river).while quads aren't uncommon, however, you shouldn't worry about them if you have top boat. most times top boat will take it down on a paired board in a low limit game, so don't worry too much about quads.you rule is right on, just clarifying.aseemp.s. to codyscherer, definitely the 10-handed tables. for omaha hi/lo, 6-handed makes you play many more trash hands, and unlike hold'em, there are no marginal/good hands to play shorthanded--there are only premium hands and trash hands.




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