Learning to play Hi-Low Split Games

O/8 like it’s cousin Omaha high is basically a drawing game and if you are drawing then you had better make damn sure that you are drawing to something that is worth drawing to. The fact of the matter is that an A-2 by itself is simply not worth the effort most of the time. Even if you hit it then you are only getting half of the pot at best. But someone else could easily be holding the same low and especially in a multi-way pot. Then you can make your hand only to lose it again if an ace or a deuce arrives.

Many a time in full ring games and especially in a limit format then O/8 can actually get very boring because an awful lot of folding can sometimes be involved and the game is nowhere near as complex as hold’em but yet the split pot nature of the game seems to confuse an awful lot of players.

In games at the lower end of the spectrum then tight is right as it is in most low stakes games irrespective of the form and drawing to non-nut hands especially on the low side can prove fatal to your bankroll. But creativity and aggression will be rewarded in higher limit games and especially in pot limit play. But as I said earlier, you can play a very dull and unimaginative game in low stakes O/8 and actually do quite well.

As well as playing professionally online I also coach poker and what I have found over the past year to eighteen months is an increasing number of players coming to me wanting to learn about O/8. Of course you cannot approach any kind of coaching with a “one glove fits all” attitude and what I tell them is highly dependent on what type of experience they have and what levels they currently play at and how much they actually understand poker.

These are key elements, it is no good showing a player how to beat low limit ring games at O/8 if they have been playing $25-$50 No Limit. They just would not be interested in playing at that level and this would certainly mean them losing money even though they could be technically the best player in the game at all round poker. If you are a very good poker player and actually have a very firm grasp of what poker is and the underlying concepts of it then you will quickly find your feet at any form of poker.

But when players do not understand the game then they have nothing left to fall back on other than learning what constitutes a good hand from a bad one and playing very tightly and grinding it out. But many players cannot even manage that in the low stakes O/8 games where multi-way pots are common and players are coming in with all sorts of junk. An example, someone limps into a multi-way pot because it is cheap with A-4-J-8 rainbow…..what in god’s name is that?

You are drawing at a third nut low even if you make it and some kind of straight….crazy! Somebody out there is likely to beat you not only for low but for high as well. You need to go both ways and try to scoop but you need to exercise a great deal of caution in exactly how you go about it.

Carl Sampson is an online poker player and poker ambassador for 888poker

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