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Counterfeiting In Omaha High-Low Poker

Sep 9, 2008
In Omaha Hi-Lo poker, one of the guiding principles is that you would like, in most cases, to be drawing to the nuts. Unlike in Texas holdem where a strong hand like a flush or two pair is often sufficient to win the pot, in Omaha Hi-Lo, with potentially as many as 40 of the 52 cards in the hands of you or your opponents, you often need the best possible hand, or the nuts, to win in these poker games.

Knowing what the nut high hand will be before the flop is not possible. Even if you hold a pair of aces in your hand, your hand may be rendered worthless by a board with three of the same suit, three cards to a straight or a pair without an ace. On the other hand, the nut low is much easier to predict. If you hold A2, any three low cards on board will give you the nut low. The only exception is if another ace or deuce appears on the board, and this is called getting counterfeited. A central concept in Omaha poker.

Clearly, if one of the three board cards is an ace or a deuce, you do not have a low unless one of your other cards is below 8. For example, you hold As Ks Qh 2h. The flop comes 2d 5s 6d. You currently do not have a low. You must use three cards on the board with two in your hand, making your best possible low Q 6 5 2 A, which does not qualify. Using the 2 in your hand yields a low of 2 2 6 5 A, which includes a pair and certainly does not qualify. This is not getting counterfeited. This is just not having a low.

Counterfeiting occurs when one of your hole cards is duplicated, meaning essentially that other players can use it, but you cannot. For example, let's say you hold As 2s 6h 7h. The flop comes 8c 4h 3s. You now hold the nut low. There is no hand anyone can hold that beats your low (although another player can have A2 as well, which will result in you getting quartered, which is not quite as bad as getting counterfeited, but not good.)

Now let's say the turn is the 2d. This is a disaster for you. Note that you still have a low because all your cards are below 8. However, your best low is now 6 4 3 2 A, which is not the nut. Now a player holding A5 beats you with 5 4 3 2 A, also known as a wheel. If the turn were an A, your best low would still be 6 4 3 2 A, while the nut would be 2 5.

What can you do about being counterfeited?

Not much. However, you should give additional weight to hands with extra low cards that provide counterfeit insurance. For example, if you hold As 2d 3c Kc, you are in great shape for a low, since as long as you can hit three low cards without two of these three cards appearing, you will hold the nut low. Note that you will have two pair, but this will probably not be sufficient to win high.
About the Author
This article was brought to you by TexanBuddy. TexanBuddy is a Texas Holdem Poker Odds Calculator which will calculate the odds of you winning your hand while you are playing. An essential addition to your poker arsenal and gives you a huge edge at the online tables. http://www.texanbuddy.com
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