Post-flop play

Once the three flop cards are dealt, your hand can be defined in one of five ways. They are; flopped scoop, flopped nuts one way, drawing to scoop, drawing to nuts one way, and missed.

Looking at these five definitions in order, let’s start with a flopped scoop. An example of a flopped scoop is where you are currently holding the nut low and the nut high;

Your hand Ah-2c-Qh-Qc

The board 3h- 4h-8h

In this instance you already have the nut low and the nut high. The only problem with this hand is that it is susceptible to being out-drawn. You have no back-up low card and so, should an ace or two fall on the turn or river, your low will be counterfeited. Also, should the board pair, or if the 5h, 6h, or 7h fall, your flush is not necessarily going to win the high either. As such, these hands require you to bet to protect them. Never try and slow play in Omaha Hi-Lo as it usually comes back to bite you. In limit games you should bet or raise in these situations and in pot limit you should be betting anywhere from half to all of the pot to ensure that players are charged a price to try and draw out on you.

If you get a caller, you will be hoping that they have some inferior hand – say the king-high flush – but often the other player will have the same low (or if possible, the same high). This isn’t a bad spot to be in as, should they have the nuts in one direction (say Ac-2d-x-x in this example), they will end up losing the high pot to you and then having to chop the low pot. You win three quarters of the money invested and they only come away with the remaining quarter. This is where the expression “being quartered” comes from.

Assuming you get a caller, you can make your decision about how to proceed once the turn card is dealt (and this is another reason that position is important in the game). Should no scare card fall, you need to bet again and hope that the river is equally safe. It is also important to consider the player you are up against too. Have they shown down some very rough hands in the past? Are they likely to have called your pot sized bet with a set and no A-2? If not, even the board pairing might not be the worst thing in the world as it is far more likely that they have the bare A-2, or better yet, the second nuts in either direction. You will get beaten to the whole pot occasionally with these hands, but you will make enough from betting and taking, or from being called by weaker hands to tip the balance in your favour.

One further example of a flopped scoop is as follows;

Your hand Ah-2c-Qh-Qc

The board Kh-Jh-9h

In this instance you have the nut flush along with a redraw (this is a term I will discuss in a moment) to the royal flush and no low is going to be possible. Even here though you shouldn’t be looking to slow play the hand as a set of kings could easily fill to a full house on the turn. And even if you flopped the royal flush itself, slow play might look suspiciously out of character with the rest of your game. A bet might even get value from that set of kings.

As I mentioned, before we go on to discuss the other types of hands, it is important to understand the term “re-draws” and what they mean in Omaha Hi-Lo.

A “draw”, as you will be aware, is a possible card or cards that can arrive after the flop to make your hand. For example, in Hold’em, a player with Ah-Kh has a flush draw on a board of Qh-3h-6d. A “redraw” is a subsequent card or cards that can improve your made hand to an even better one. For example;

Your hand Ah-2c-7h-Kc

Opponent Ac-2h-Jd-Ks

The board 3h-4h-5s

In this example both you and the other player have flopped the wheel and both have a flopped scoop (the straight for high and the nut low). However, in his excitement to get all of the chips on the table, your opponent has missed the fact that he has no redraws. He cannot make a better high hand in the next two cards than he already has done. You, on the other hand have redraws to both a better straight (if a six falls) or to a flush (with any heart). In this instance you are “free-rolling” to try and win three quarters of the pot as you can’t get worse than a chop, but have twelve outs to improve. This is why redraws become so important in the game. After each flop, you need to not only review how your hand has developed, but how it could change again on later streets.

Solid starting hand selection helps create redraws. A double suited hand can possibly flop a redraw to a flush where as a rainbow (all different suits) hand, even with the same value cards, will not.

The second type of post-flop hand you could have is flopped nuts one way. Ideally you want one with a draw to the other side of the pot. For example;

Your hand Ah-2c-Qh-Qc

The board 5s-8c-Qd

Here you not only have top set, but you have a draw to the nut low as well and so, as with a flopped scoop, you should bet this hand. Although a three, four, six or seven will make you the nut low, the four, six and seven may offer a straight to someone. Obviously an ace or a two are bad cards as they again counterfeit your low draw and mean you are now playing for, at best, half of the pot. If strong betting, especially from more than one player, comes on the turn after such a card, you need to proceed with caution (remember, an ace may even mean that you no longer have top set). In another example;

Your hand Ah-2c-Qh-Qc

The board Kd-Jd-Tc

Here you have the Broadway straight and no low is going to be possible. However, your hand is very susceptible to being out-drawn by diamonds, sets that fill up to make a full house or simply to a chop with redraws (such as Ad-Qd-x-x). You should be careful on the flop here as you have no redraws yourself (your hand can not get better than it is already and still be the nuts, short of the highly unlikely prospect of running queens).

In a final example;

Your hand Ah-2c-Qh-Qc

The board 5s-6c-8d

These are the hands that can cost you a lot of chips as, having flopped the nut low, you have unlikely prospects for the high (will a pair of queens be enough?) and with everyone playing the game knowing that A-2-x-x is a good starting hand, there is a real threat of you only currently being entitled to a quarter (or less!) of the pot. Add to this that you have no redraw on your low and will need running cards to secure the high and it should become clear that you can fold this hand if multi-way betting is aggressive enough on this flop. It is always cheaper to fold on the flop than it is to get quartered by the river.

The third type of hand you can flop is a drawing to scoop. These hands need to be qualified. You might be drawing to over 20 outs or you might be drawing to just one card! They are hands that you can play if the price is right and therefore are far more likely to be hands you will play in limit Omaha Hi-Lo than in the pot limit game. For example;

Your hand Ah-2h-4c-5c

The board 3h-4h-Td

Here you currently hold nothing more than a pair of fours, but your draw is enormous. Any ace, two, five, six, seven or eight will make you the nut low while you have all the hearts for the nut flush including the 5h for the straight flush wheel (or “steel wheel” as it is known) and a six will make you a straight. All told, you have 9 cards that make you the nuts in both directions as well as other running outs or second nut high outs (the sixes). You should be betting this hand as aggressively as a made hand and be happy to be either called or to take the pot right there.

However, be aware that bad things can still happen to this hand on the turn. If a black ten appears you now have a draw to half the pot and maybe a quarter. At this point, being in position is a huge advantage as it is likely that a player who check-called the flop will either check to you again here, or bet his made full house.

In another example;

Your hand Ah- Kh-2d-3d

The board Qs-Tc-9s

In this instance you have the draw to the Broadway straight and nothing else. A made K-J-x-x will no doubt look to bet you off your draw, and others off their sets, here. You should only be playing this hand to the turn if you can check, even in limit. Remember, even if your miracle non-spade jack falls on the turn, you have no redraws and can be beaten on the river by a flush or a full house.

These are the kinds of hands that new players can lose a lot of money with. They look great before the flop and still seem to have potential after it, but should be folded in the face of any betting.

The forth kind of hand is drawing to nuts one way. These are some of the most dangerous hands in Omaha Hi-Lo and over the long term will send you broke. For example;

Your hand Ah-2c-Qh-Kc

The board 3d-3c-8s

In this instance, you have flopped a draw to the nut low and not much else. You have no draws to the high and no covering low card in case your low draw becomes counterfeit. Should two high cards fall, you might get to the river with nothing. And yet, this is precisely the hand you will witness a few people going broke with if you play enough Omaha Hi-Lo. You might feel that in a limit game it is worth calling one more bet to see the turn and maybe make the low, especially if there are three or more players in the hand. However, you will maybe also have to be calling bets, or even raises on the later streets and the more players who are in the hand, the more likely it is that someone else will also have A-2-x-x. Worse, you could get to the river and see a two dealt. It may seem very tight, but unless you’re already committed with chips (maybe in the late stages of a tournament or if you bet almost your last money pre-flop), you should fold here.

In another example, let’s say you are drawing to the nut high;

Your hand Ah-Qh-2c-3h

The board 2h-3c-8h

In this hand you have seen your low hand counterfeit and, although you have two pair, bottom two is almost certain to be beaten by the river. You do have the nut high draw, however, with any heart making you the nut flush.

This is a better situation to be in than in the previous example, or than if you were drawing to the nut straight, specifically because it isn’t a hand that someone else could also be drawing to. Therefore it cannot lead to you being quartered should you make your high. For this reason, straight draws, even wrap straight draws, should be treated with the same suspicion as the low-only example above and folded in the face of any betting. It is much rarer to be quartered for the high than for the low, but when you are it is almost always with a straight (assuming you were not playing for the low as well).

Going back to the flush draw example, you should look at the pot odds involved and your position in the hand. If the odds are there to draw to the flush, go for it, but be wary of making your hand on the turn if you have no redraws as a pair on the end could spell disaster.

In a pot limit game, my recommendation is NEVER draw to try and win half the pot.

Finally, the last type of post-flop hand you will see- and sadly this is a hand you will encounter fairly often, even if you do play solid pre-flop poker - is missed.

An example of a missed hand is as follows;

Your hand Ah-2h-3c-5c

The board Td-Ts-Ks

You started with a great looking four cards, double suited and full of wheel cards, but the flop means no low is possible and anyone with a pair of twos is beating you right now. Hands like this are easy to fold. An example of one that is not so easy would be;

Your hand Ah-2h-Kc-8c

The board 2s-4c-6c

Here you have seen your low hand counterfeit and A-3-x-x is now holding the nuts in that direction. However, you have a draw at the king high flush. People sometimes get caught up in the action of the game here and will call a bet at a full ring table in the hope of making a flush or maybe still being okay to chop the low (say if a three is on the turn). This is dangerous territory in the extreme. All too often, you will see a player draw to the second or third nuts in both directions and then be beaten to both. Unless you are playing shorthanded, the correct play here is check-fold.

One final word on post flop play is that the turn and river can dramatically change a hand, sometimes brutally, and you will see the nut-nut on the flop end up winning nothing two cards later. It is important not to let this affect your decision making pre- and post-flop, but you should always consider how the turn and river have altered your position and alter your play accordingly. Omaha Hi-Lo is not a game well suited to bluffing and if you believe you are behind, you probably are. By making good decisions hand after hand, regardless of results, you will profit from the game in the long run.