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“Aim For the whole pot”

        High-low split is an increasingly popular form of online poker. Nowadays, it is almost exclusively played with a qualifier of eight-or-better for low. A no-qualifier game makes the strategy very simple; play for low. A qualifier puts balance into the game.
        Most split-pot games are played at pot limit or limit poker. However, pot-limit high-low split is not only playable it is an interesting, challenging, and intricate form of poker. For pot-limit it is better to play cards speak rather than having the players declare their direction. A declare increases the ease and profitability of collusion. 

        Although it is possible to play any form of poker with a pot-limit eight-or-better format, some games are more suitable than others. Omaha, both the regular and the five-card variety, is ideal. Hold’em is not good, since you can seldom play a hand without an ace in it.
        For seven-card stud, it is advisable to deal four cards to each player (two down, two up) before the initial betting round. The will reduce the number of betting rounds from five to four, thus keeping stud in balance with the other games in the amount of monetary fluctuation. It will also bring flushes and straights into the picture better.

        Draw poker is okay, although some prefer to introduce a third betting round through the use of a spit-card. This is a community boardcard turned up after the first betting round and before the players draw cards. Another game fun to play high-low is California pineapple. Each player gets dealt three cards, and must throw away one after the flop. At the end you may play either one or two cards from your hand. The board is the same layout as in hold’em poker. This game is identical to the British Isles game of “Three-card Irish,” except you are not are not allowed to play the board.     

        Since there are so many forms of poker that can be played pot-limit eight-or-better, it would be too big a task to discuss them individually. Rather, let us talk about the general principles that pertain to all the various kinds or poker that use this format.
         At pot-limit you seldom see the fivehanded and sixhanded pots that often characterize limit eight-or-better poker. Most pots are either played heads-up or threeway. This means if you split the pot, your profit is small in proportion to the amount of money risked. In order to make a good score, you must do the following:

  1. Play only very high-quality hands. The starting requirements for eight-or-better are more stringent than for high poker. In particular, you must avoid the flaw of trying to play every hand here that you would play at straight high. Look at it this way; if you play all the hands you all the hands you would normally play for high, and about twice as many hands as you would play in straight high. You should actually be playing somewhat fewer hands, so this loose style of play is a cardinal sin.
  2. Stick to hands with scoop potential. The place to aim for this goal is in your selection of starting poker hands. For example, at Omaha the ace-deuce combination is desirable, because it aims at the nut low. But if your hand is A-9-8-2 four different suits, its scoop potential is small. This hand is worth much more at limit play with those many-handed pots than at pot-limit play. The next time you play it head-up, make the nut low, and get quartered for big bucks, realize that you did something wrong and were not just unlucky. A hand such as A-K-Q-2 would have been much more valuable. The flush-draws help a lot.

                There are two ways to scoop a pot. You can win both the high and the    low, or you can win the high when there is no low. Anyone who claims that proper eight-or-better strategy is to play for low is horribly mistaken. He is still thinking in terms of the no-qualifier high-low split games which are not played anymore.   

                         A hand that aims only at high is not a bad hand at all. But it must constantly be re-evaluated with each new card. For example, the Omaha hand of Q-Q-10-9 is a nice starting holding. With a flop of Q-J-3, it is a monster. A flop of Q-4-3 is only one card different and still makes you top set, but actually is a whole new ballgame. This second flop has two cards to a low, a flush-draw, and a card that makes the nut low-draw a straight. The first flop gives you a powerhouse, but the second gives you a trap hand that needs to take off a safe card before a large amount of money is committed. Only after an offsuit big card comes on fourth street, or the board pairs, should you go to war.
(3) Pot-limit eight-or-better is a game of position. Even though position is of  great import in any form of big-bet poker, at eight-or-better it is of even more importance. You need position to see how the opponent reacts to the presence or absence of a possible qualifying low. Only then can you play your own holding at maximum effectiveness.

(4)Although there is bluffing, eight-or-better is not a bulldozer’s game. You will find that a large number of bets are called. Even though the caller often has his heart in his mouth praying you are going the other way, he still puts the money into the pot. Eight-or-better poker is a game that places the accent on selecting good hands and reading situations well, rather than blowing away the opposition with a heavy betting hand.

(5) A pot-limit high-low split player needs a good sense of when to try and move someone out of the pot and when to leave them in. For threehanded pots, when you look like a lock in your direction but do not have a chance to scoop, you need to have someone in the middle- and keep them there. Quite often you do not want to apply maximum pressure in the betting, because you don’t want to get the pot reduced to a heads-up situation. Of course, if winning your half of the pot is in jeopardy, try to remove the threat if possible.
             The thought I will leave you with is that pot-limit poker is quite suitable to being played high-low, as well as one winner. If you like limit high-low poker, you will love it at pot-limit betting


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