Hi/Lo Split Games – Don’t Forget the High

by , May 23, 2009 | 7:41 am

The high hand is usually seen as the weaker of the possible hands in hi/lo split games – simply because it cannot win the low as well, where as low hands can frequently develop into high hands which can win both the high and the low end of the pot (lows can easily become nut flushes or straights as well as lows).

“Although this was a good solid style in the old games, if everyone is playing in this way it ceases to be effective.”

In fact this point has become so widely written about and understood, that many players seem to now actually try and totally avoid high hands.

I was recently playing in a low stakes Omaha hi/lo game that illustrated this point perfectly. Had I been in this game even five years ago, most players would be over valuing high hands, not playing enough lows, giving too many free cards and would generally be pretty easy to beat. In the modern era though, these games have now become full of players who basically only play hands with ace two and ace three in them. Although this was a good solid style in the old games, if everyone is playing in this way it ceases to be effective.

In fact in this game, I was doing much better trying to push my high hands as much as possible, simply because you would frequently be involved in multi way pots where two or three other players were either drawing to a low of had already hit one and were going to split their half amongst themselves. It is quite obvious that if you have the high covered then it is a great result for you to have a few players all chopping the low – they are simply paying extra money into your half of the pot.

Always remember that in all forms of poker balance and reacting to your opponent’s style is critical. Although there are general guiding principles that should be roughly adhered to, mostly you should just be focusing on how your opponents play and to adjust your style accordingly. Although the low is usually a stronger hand than the high in hi/lo games, it has the Achillies heal of being easy to counterfeit and to chop with other lows, which means that if many players are chasing lows the high actually becomes significantly stronger – and this radically changes how you should approach the game.

More Marcus Bateman

Staying Afloat
The importance of not giving free cards in Omaha eight or better
Wild Card Games part one – Stakes and Games
Wild Card Games part two – Strategy

5 Comments to “Hi/Lo Split Games – Don’t Forget the High”

  1. Johnny Hughes says:

    God invented Hold ’em right here, where he lives. Splitting pots is kind of sissy and un-Texan.

  2. Alicia

    and thinking Hold Em is the only game is town is the sign of an undeveloped, one dimensional player

  3. DanM

    oooh, snap! Texan vs. Texan no less!

  4. steved

    I’m liking the article. Variants of the game are the future.

  5. DanM

    yet kinda ironic, in that it was the focus on one game (nlh) that brings everyone to such a point.