Sign Up For Card Player's Newsletter And Free Bi-Monthly Online Magazine


Poker Training

Newsletter and Magazine

Sign Up

Find Your Local

Card Room


Coach’s Game – A Few Pointers For Other Games

by Kevin Haney |  Published: Apr 19, 2023


My good friend Donald Shiflett Jr. (aka Coach) runs a regular $8-$16 mix currently encompassing a whopping 17 different variants at Resorts World in Las Vegas! Suffice it to say, you better be prepared to use your poker mind, and get ready to be put into numerous situations that you have never encountered before.

In a previous article we discussed Badugi High-Low, the game in Coach’s mix that undoubtedly creates the most confusion for new players. In this issue, we’ll take a cursory look at some more unique games that may cause problems for those playing them for the first time.

Five Card Double Board Omaha Eight-Or-Better Ultimate

This is a rather interesting variant because the pot is split between the best possible high and low (if one is possible) on both boards.

For example, if you have a nut flush on the top board and your opponent has a full house on the bottom one, he wins the high. Having the nuts on the top board gets you nothing, other than an opportunity to bemoan your bad luck. Only the best overall high hand gets half.

Another point of confusion is that an A-2 may not always make the best low; this can happen when both boards make a low possible and the A-2 gets counterfeited on one of them. For example, if you hold A-2-K-Q-J and the two boards end up as 6-7-8-J-8 and K-4-6-9-A, the ace on the river on the second one will cause you to lose to someone holding a 5-7 combination. In this case your low is A-2-6-7-8, and they have A-4-5-6-7.

As far as strategy goes, it can generally be said that in any double board game the strong hands increase their advantage over inferior holdings markedly. Any halfway decent A-A holding is much better than it would otherwise be in normal Limit Big O since you have two boards in which to make a set or better and for your opponent(s) to hit that may make them inferior hands. And pocket aces accompanied with flush possibilities and/or wheel cards is a monster.

Another hand type that rises in value is three good low cards with a high pair, e.g. 2Spade Suit 3Diamond Suit 5Heart Suit KSpade Suit KClub Suit. In regular Omaha Eight-or-Better, an ace usually cripples your high potential, but with two boards you can flop an ace on one for good low and/or wheel potential, and possibly have a set or king high flush possibilities on the other. Big pairs are valuable, as they have the potential to make the biggest full houses.

Dry A-2 holdings such as ASpade Suit 2Diamond Suit 8Diamond Suit JHeart Suit 10Club Suit go down in value as there are two boards where the A-2 can get counterfeited. Also, since everyone is dealt five cards, there’s a decent chance that another player has the nut low draw. In addition, straights and small flushes don’t often drag the high in multi-way pots. Therefore, we can muck this type of hand from an early position and certainly not a good idea to cold-call a raise.

Drawmaha High-Dugi

Here’s another doozy of a game, one that I happen to become fonder of the more I get a chance to play. This is a five-card split pot game between the best Omaha holding and the best high badugi, where AClub Suit ASpade Suit ADiamond Suit AHeart Suit is classified as the badugi nuts. As in regular badugi you need four different suits; but quads, trips, two pair, and pairs are what you desire.

For example, if you are dealt KClub Suit KSpade Suit 10Diamond Suit 8Heart Suit 3Heart Suit your current draw holding is a pair of kings badugi. Depending on what the flop brings with regards to your Omaha hand, you are most likely going to discard one of the hearts in order to improve your chances on both sides of the pot.

Usually this would be the 3Heart Suit, and in that case there are four improving cards to your draw (i.e. high-dugi) holding. The two remaining kings would give you a trips badugi (e.g. KClub Suit KSpade Suit KDiamond Suit 10Heart Suit), while either the 10Heart Suit or 8Diamond Suit would make a two pair badugi (i.e. KClub Suit KSpade Suit 10Diamond Suit 10Heart Suit or KClub Suit KSpade Suit 8Heart Suit 8Diamond Suit).

Since it’s so unlikely to improve upon your high-dugi holding, it’s quite a bad outcome to run into a higher pair badugi. For example, you are in a terrible position if your open with KClub Suit KSpade Suit 10Diamond Suit 8Heart Suit 3Heart Suit gets re-raised by ADiamond Suit AHeart Suit QClub Suit 5Spade Suit 2Spade Suit. There’s only around a 10% chance of improving your badugi to two-pair or trips and you can still lose even when you do improve. What makes matters worse is that you are an underdog on the Omaha side as well.

However, a pair of kings badugi is a top 5% starting hand so this is mostly an unavoidable cooler, and should often see a showdown in a heads-up pot. Your opponent could just as easily be three-betting a pair of queens badugi (a hand you can possibly scoop), or trips badugi (e.g. 7Diamond Suit 7Heart Suit 7Club Suit 5Spade Suit 2Spade Suit), in which case the pair of kings is a decent favorite on the Omaha side.

Some players will also re-raise a pair of aces containing only three suits. This three-bet is an attempt to limit the field in order to increase their odds of winning in Omaha, and they also have an approximate 50% chance on the draw to complete a strong pair of aces badugi. Whenever someone three-bets and draws two this is their most likely holding, so play accordingly.

Trips with three different suits are less incentivized to escalate the pot before knowing whether or not they draw their fourth suit. Even if they already have a badugi it’s difficult to make a strong Omaha hand with three of a kind and four different suits in your hand, thus simply calling a raise and pulling in potential customers may be the correct strategy.

Therefore, be alert if a tight player calls your early position raise and ends up drawing one as they might be doing so with trips badugi already made. If their flat call brings others into the pot and the Omaha side is not kind to you, it may be correct to abandon a pair of kings badugi. This would especially be the case if it appears that one opponent hit in Omaha and this tight player raises the turn.

And as in all forms of Drawmaha, we are often faced with difficult and fun discard decisions. For example, suppose we are dealt a pair of aces with three different suits and flop a spade flush draw. Are we supposed to hang onto the extra spade even though it will reduce our odds of making a pair of aces badugi?

If we have the nut flush draw (e.g. ASpade Suit AClub Suit 8Diamond Suit 7Spade Suit 4Club Suit) it can be considered, otherwise (e.g. ADiamond Suit AClub Suit 8Spade Suit 7Spade Suit 4Club Suit) we should probably draw two. Making the badugi is of upmost importance, and we could also catch back another spade.

It’s these types of scenarios that make these crazy games so intriguing. You are never faced with such dilemmas in the two-card game that starts with H. By the way, don’t ever expect to play hold’em played in Coach’s Game. He always jokes that he would then be forced to go out and buy a backpack and hoodie, and that he would never do! ♠

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