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The Golden Rule Of Dramaha

by Kevin Haney |  Published: Jul 31, 2019


Last issue, we introduced the game of Dramaha, which has recently become more popular in mixed cash games at a variety of limits both live and online. It is a split-pot game where the holder of the best five-card draw hand splits the pot with the best Omaha high holding.

Many different variants of Dramaha are possible, but the two most popular versions have the draw side won by either the best five-card draw high or the best deuce-to-seven low. Dramaha played for high is typically just referred to as High Dramaha or just plain Dramaha, while the version played for low is specified as Deuce-To-Seven (2-7) Dramaha. For the next few issues we will discuss both extensively, but first, I want to focus on the high version, which in my opinion is the more interesting and cohesive variant.

Deuce-To-Seven Dramaha is somewhat awkward in the sense that the best Omaha cards are high while the best deuce-to-seven hands requires low cards. The deuce-to-seven version also has a lot less interesting discard decisions because their decision to either stand pat or draw is usually straight-forward given the pre-draw action and the flop. There is also more inherent randomness in what wins for Omaha in the low oriented game.

Many players disagree with me on this and enjoy the low version much more. Both games are a lot of fun, however, in a game populated by a few inexperienced players making fundamental errors High Dramaha is probably the more profitable game.

The Golden Rule

There is one simple Golden Rule in the game of Dramaha that will probably make you an instant winner in any game where at least two people are not following it. It’s the recognition that the strength of your Draw hand is vastly more important than the potential of your Omaha holding.

When there is only one draw, the superior draw hand entering the draw remains the best one afterwards the vast majority of the time. However, unlike straight Five Card Draw where there are only two rounds of betting, there are four rounds in Dramaha upon which to reap this advantage.

And when holding the best draw hand after the draw you are in the much valued freeroll situation. If you constantly leave home with longshot prospects to win the draw side one must be very adept at dancing in between the raindrops to simply break even by the end of the night.

Recently I was playing in an online game where one player was annoyed at another for always complaining and told him, “You are always crying yet you have no idea how good you are running.” The complaining player who had been starting out with less than stellar draw hands all night responded, “Yeah, running like god and breaking even.” You should never call out the “action players,” yet the first player’s assessment was spot on. He was even in the game, yet given what he was constantly entering the pot with, he was running quite pure to be breaking even.

It is not easy to make both the best draw and Omaha hand; however, it is decidedly more difficult when starting out with an Omaha only hand such as AClub Suit KHeart Suit QHeart Suit JSpade Suit 9Club Suit. Suppose you enter the pot with this holding from an early position and get re-raised. If the re-raiser holds trips, two pair or even just aces it’s going to be very difficult to win both sides thus you are just hoping to get your money back.

If you flop a club draw you are forced to keep the 9Club Suit thus you will often end up drawing two or three depending on the board and your chances of winning the draw side are remote. And when you discard the 9Club Suit hitting a gutshot is a low probability event and pairing one of your high cards will not often win in draw given this action. In fact, depending what is on the board your highest EV play may be to draw four cards to the AClub Suit!

As far as Omaha high hands go this is a premium holding yet it is unplayable in Dramaha unless you have a reasonable chance to steal the blinds. A simple pair of aces is a far superior starting hand; the AClub Suit 5Heart Suit 7Diamond Suit ASpade Suit 9Club Suit is worth much more because your chances of scooping are far greater. When you flop a club flush draw with this holding you would keep the AClub Suit ASpade Suit 9Club Suit and have a much greater overall expectation with more legitimate chances of winning the entire pot. Even if you didn’t hold a club and drew three your odds of gaining a club on the draw is relatively good.

Probability that your Draw Hand is Best

Recognizing the importance of holding the best draw hand how can we assess if the hand we currently hold is strong enough for our situation? On the initial deal this can be mathematically determined by your holding and position at the table.

A probability distribution of the stronger initial hands that you may be dealt and the corresponding approximate chances your hand is currently best is as follows:

Probability Cumulative Prob
Full House or Better 0.17% 0.17%
Flush 0.20% 0.37%
Straight 0.39% 0.76%
Three Kind 2.11% 2.87%
Two Pair 4.75% 7.62%
AA 3.25% 10.87%
KK 3.25% 14.12%

SB Button Cutoff HJ UTG
Full House or Better 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Flush 100% 100% 99% 99% 99%
Straight 100% 99% 99% 99% 98%
Three Kind 99% 98% 98% 97% 96%
Two Pair 97% 94% 92% 89% 86%
AA 92% 85% 79% 73% 67%
KK 89% 79% 71% 63% 56%
QQ 86% 74% 63% 54% 47%
JJ 83% 68% 56% 47% 39%
TT 79% 63% 50% 40% 32%
99 76% 58% 44% 34% 26%

This chart is most likely self-explanatory, for example if it’s folded to you in the cutoff you should open with Q-Q as it is around 63 percent likely you hold the best hand with only three players left to act. This list does not comprise the entirety of hands you will play in this game as you can enter the pot with lesser made hands, draws, and premium Omaha hands from late positions. However, knowledge of these probabilities is very important when developing a set of standards for entering a pot.

The importance of holding the best Draw hand cannot be overemphasized. For example opening up JClub Suit JHeart Suit 10Club Suit 8Heart Suit 6Diamond Suit UTG is too loose because the chances you will run into a better draw holding (around 61 percent) are way too high. Even if you just run into a single pair of aces you only have around 23 percent equity for the draw side and that assumes you draw three cards.

Many players will play JClub Suit JHeart Suit 10Club Suit 8Heart Suit 6Diamond Suit because in addition to the pair of jacks it is also has straight and flush Omaha potential. However, if you decide to keep any of the side cards to draw to an Omaha hand you would be an even greater underdog to a pair of aces in draw. Adding to all of this the average five-card Omaha high holding containing two aces is actually a “hot/cold” equity favorite before the flop in Omaha against your holding.

These are the types of mediocre two-way holdings that players often lose money with because they will frequently run into better draw hands and then limit their opportunity to try and overtake that hand because they are attempting to draw at something in Omaha. Sometimes they will hit their jack high flush in Omaha only to get scooped by a pair of aces and an ace high flush. A jack-high flush is not a monster hand in five-card Omaha yet the tears will still flow.

Next issue we will dig deeper into some more key fundamental mathematics of Dramaha that will further guide our strategic outlook on the game. ♠

Kevin Haney is a former actuary of MetLife but left the corporate job to focus on his passions for poker and fitness. He is co-owner of Elite Fitness Club in Oceanport, NJ and is a certified personal trainer. With regards to poker he got his start way back in 2003 and particularly enjoys taking new players interested in mixed games under his wing and quickly making them proficient in all variants. He can be reached at