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Omaha Eight-or-Better: Some Televised High Stakes Hands

by Kevin Haney |  Published: Mar 08, 2023

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As we’ve done before, let’s take a break from the ordinary and analyze some Omaha Eight-or-Better (O8b) hands from an archived episode of Dolly’s Game produced by PokerGO. Dolly’s Game, is of course, hosted by Doyle Brunson, and in this particular episode they were playing a $400-$800 mixed rotation. This glimpse into the high-stakes cash game scene is a goldmine for any mixed game enthusiast.

Watching poker played for high stakes amongst those who regularly compete among the elite is probably the best thing you can do to improve your game. And the fact that it’s a cash game as opposed to a tournament final table where laddering concerns may alter play makes it even better.

The intent is not to be critical of anyone playing for large amounts of money on television, especially this group of accomplished players. We are just going to have some fun examining some situations we are used to dealing with ourselves in the smaller stakes arena. Without further ado, let’s get into some hands.

Jack Dai opens raises from the cutoff (ASpade Suit 9Diamond Suit 6Heart Suit 2Club Suit), Anthony Alberto flats the button (ADiamond Suit QClub Suit 10Club Suit 3Heart Suit), and Matt Glantz defends the big blind (AHeart Suit KHeart Suit 8Heart Suit 2Club Suit).

Jack’s open is completely standard; however, Anthony may have been better served by three-betting his solid two-way holding that is ahead of a typical cutoff open range.

ADiamond Suit QClub Suit 10Club Suit 3Heart Suit has around 52% equity against a 30% cutoff opening range and a reraise will often eliminate the blinds, creating dead money in the pot. While your opponent may have A-2, your high potential can offset that, as demonstrated by the fact that Anthony has around 57% equity against Jack’s specific holding.

There are also reasons to get aggressive against a cutoff open that extend past the current hand. For instance, if Anthony is frequently reraising, it might cause Jack to tighten up in the future, allowing him to play more hands against the blinds. However, smooth-calling also has merit since it will often pull in the big blind with really weak hands that might be somewhat dominated by Anthony’s holding.

Matt wakes up with a pretty good hand in the big blind, but opts to just call. Against two late-position players, many players will reraise most of their A-2 holdings; however, with anything other than a premium holding you aren’t pushing that much of an equity edge while also divulging that your hand often contains an A-2.

The flop comes down 7Heart Suit 4Club Suit 8Club Suit and Matt decides to lead out.

This lead seems good as he has the nut low and wants to increase the odds that he wins the high. His bet will often get rid of overpairs and should also eliminate some weak draws. Since Matt did not reraise pre-flop, his lead will more often contain straights, sets, or strong draws as opposed to a nut low.

Jack elects to raise with the nut low and open-ended straight draw.

This was a decision that the commentators weren’t entirely sure about, but it seems like the best play. Raising will often eliminate weak flush draws promoting the chances that a straight will win the high.

And while we would generally prefer that an A-3 and worse lows stick around, there is some merit in getting them out in case a deuce hits. When the decision between calling and raising appears close, defaulting to the more aggressive action that may help us win the entire pot is usually the preferred action.

Anthony, who is a relatively sticky player, makes a disciplined fold with the second nut low and a queen-high flush draw. Matt calls the raise, and the 5Diamond Suit hits the turn making Jack his straight.

The turn action was quite surprising.

Matt decided to check-raise and Jack just called despite having the nuts in both directions.

Matt’s action doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense because if Jack raised the flop on high values than Matt is probably drawing dead on that side. And if he has a two-way holding it’s most often A-2 plus something, and that something is usually better than a pair of eights. Matt also doesn’t have any counterfeit protection and could get nothing if a deuce hits the river.

It’s hard to speculate why Jack simply decided to call the turn check-raise as he is only losing to another A-2-6-9 that has a club draw or a holding such as AClub Suit 7Club Suit 7Spade Suit 2Diamond Suit that has both a set and a flush draw. He is a 56% favorite over a hand such as A-2-7-7 that has a set in addition to currently sharing the nut low.

The river turns out to be the 2Heart Suit which counterfeits Matt’s low and enabled Jack to scoop everything.

Had Anthony remained in the pot, he would have made the nut low, thus in this case Jack’s flop aggression probably won him the entire pot.

Matt Glantz raised the button (10Club Suit 7Diamond Suit 5Club Suit 3Heart Suit), Eli Elezra flat called in the small blind (ADiamond Suit QClub Suit JClub Suit 8Diamond Suit), and Mike Matusow folded his big blind.

If your goal is to play around half of your hands from the button, then opening with 10Club Suit 7Diamond Suit 5Club Suit 3Heart Suit may be a little too loose. The holding is much more valuable with either a suited king (KClub Suit 7Diamond Suit 5Club Suit 3Heart Suit) or three wheel cards (10Club Suit 4Diamond Suit 5Club Suit 3Heart Suit). However, Matusow is probably tighter than most players, thus opening wider on his big blind has merit.

From the small blind, Eli had a close decision between calling and reraising. Assuming Matt is playing around 60% of his hands from the button, ADiamond Suit QClub Suit JClub Suit 8Diamond Suit is a slight 52% favorite, but reraising re-opens the betting allowing Matt to four-bet his premium hands. In addition, this hand will miss many low flops, and on them Eli either has to check and give up, or make a prayer bet on the hope that Matt also holds a high-oriented hand.

When flatting, Eli is inviting the big blind in with many middling holdings that would have folded to a three-bet. Assuming the big blind is a player that can’t resist a good price; he will enter into the pot with many holdings that have the potential to be dominated by ADiamond Suit QClub Suit JClub Suit 8Diamond Suit. Without the benefit of position, just calling the raise is probably the preferred choice of two close options.

The flop came down as 2Diamond Suit 5Heart Suit 7Diamond Suit and Eli decided to check-call.

This is fine since Matt may be betting a wide range and may not have a completed low. However, leading out is also a viable option since Eli has plenty of low-oriented hands that would hit that board, and Matt will find a fold with many holdings that have decent equity.

The turn was the 5Spade Suit and Eli made a somewhat questionable check-call.

Of course he won’t always be up against a full house, however, when Matt bets twice he will most often either have a made low or a strong high hand, possibly both. The pot isn’t big enough to draw at a hand that may already be dead for high and at best hope for a split.

Eli ended up folding on the 6Club Suit river.

This was reasonable enough considering that Matt only needed a live ace, three, or four to win the low. ♠

Kevin Haney is a former actuary but left the corporate job to focus on his passions for poker and fitness. The certified personal trainer owned a gym in New Jersey, but has since moved to Las Vegas. He started playing the game back in 2003, and particularly enjoys taking new players interested in mixed games under his wing and quickly making them proficient in all variants. Learn more or just say hello with an email to haneyk612@gmail.com.