Some of the worst players online at this moment in time that I have witnessed have been in the Omaha 8 games. I don’t know what it is about this form of poker that players find so difficult to grasp. I mean we are not talking about playing in pot limit games here or playing in short handed and heads up games, I am talking about players making basic errors in full limit ring games.
If you could find enough action and are prepared to multi-table then playing Omaha 8 could become a nice steady revenue source for you with just a basic understanding of it and nothing more. Maybe it is because I took to this game like a duck to water that I find it so staggering as to why many players struggle with it.
I will assume here that you have an understanding of just how Omaha 8 works so I will not be expanding on that here. But what I find happens an awful lot online is that many players drop into cash games for thirty minutes to an hour or so before a tournament is due to start or that they have got bored of their usual cash game and wanted to try something different.
Well poker and gambling for that matter is a very unforgiving business where naivety and ignorance rarely go unpunished for long. Omaha 8 is a split pot game where the high hand takes half the pot and the low hand takes the other half providing it qualifies of course. All right so I have just took the award for the most obvious statement of the year but hidden in that statement is one of the reasons for why many players fail at Omaha/8.
The fact that the pot gets split means that you should not be playing hands in O/8 that aim at winning only half of the pot. I sometimes think that many players view winning half of the pot as some sort of major achievement and the way that some of them play a bare A-2 underlines the fact even more. But when all you have is a bare A-2 and nothing else then even winning half of the pot could be out of your reach as two or more players having the nut low is very common in O/8.
But ending up with £250 out of a £1000 pot even if your boat comes in is not my idea of a successful pot. Because of how the game is played then there will always be a winner for high but not necessarily for low. This means that if all you have going for you is a nut low draw in a multi-way pot then you had better not get too excited about your prospects. But because of the fact that you are aiming for the whole pot and not just half of it then you can certainly play a hand that has high potential only because of the fact that there may be no qualifying low.
Winning the entire pot is called “scooping” and this is really where you make your money in O/8. But as a follow on to the subject of just having a bare ace deuce working for you and nothing else, not only do we have the very distinct possibility of getting quartered as was explained earlier but also the very real chance of getting your hand counterfeited. Let us say that the flop comes 8-7-4 giving you the nut low but then an ace comes on the turn....oh dear oh dear, look what has happened to your lovely nuts!
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 “The Dean” Sampson can also be found playing free poker