Playing the River in Omaha High

If you think watching the river card come out in Hold ’em is hard on your nerves, wait until you play Omaha. As an extreme example of what can happen when the last card hits the table, take a look at the hand in Figure 11.3.


Figure 11.3 Everything was copasetic until the dealer turned over the river card

This hand features a Royal Flush, four Jacks, four Queens, a Queen-high straight flush, and Tens full of Queens. The eventual winner was in front with an Ace-high straight on the flop, but the Jacks pulled way ahead by making quads on the turn, only to be beaten in not one, not two, but three places on the river.

♠♥♣♦ Note

Be sure to drop by the Gambler’s General Store at 800 South Main Street the next time you’re in Las Vegas. There’s a similar hand painted on the exterior wall facing the parking lot.

The fantasy hand shown in Figure 11.3 provides an important lesson to the Omaha high player: Small full houses can cost you a lot of money on the river. The player with Tens full of Queens simply refused to let his hand go, and what started out as the best hand before the flop took a lot of that player’s chips with it when it went down in flames. And please remember that winning Omaha hands tend to be a lot stronger than Hold ’em hands! Those extra two hole cards make a huge difference. If you’re not sure whether you’re beat or not, it’ll only cost you one bet to find out at limit Omaha. If you’re in a pot- limit or no-limit game, you’ll need nerves of steel and good judgment to call. We can’t help you there; it’s all about experience at that point.

Playing When You Have the Nuts

If you have an almighty lock on an Omaha hand, you are bound to get paid off, particularly when your lock is well disguised. For example, you might have played A♥J♥J♦7♦ and flopped a Jack-high straight flush in diamonds. We’ve already shown you how to extract the most money from your opponents on the flop and turn, but how should you follow up those tactics on the river? The secret comes in noticing whether and how the board changed from the turn to the river. As an example, consider the board in Figure 11.4.

This board changed from a flush board to a full house board on the river, but where you’ll find full houses, you might also find quads. How you extract the most money from your opponents depends on how many players remain in the hand and what they were doing before the river. If a player bet what must be the nut flush draw, and one other player called along with you, you can figure the player with the flush will fold to a bet, and the player who called along with what had to be two pair or a set will call a bet, or even raise, after you bet. In general, though, you should avoid making any fancy moves and bet the nuts, unless your notes on your opponents tell you that you can rely on them to bet the second-best hand for you to check-raise. Don’t cost yourself a big bet on the end by trying for two; the move doesn’t work often enough to make up for the river bet you missed.

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