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Scooping in Split-Pot games

In split-pot games, like Omaha/8 and 7-stud/8, your goal is to win, or "scoop," the entire pot - not just part of it. Therefore: seek hands offering an opportunity to make the best high and the best low. Don't get trapped in situations where you can win just half the pot, and then only if you get lucky. That's not to say you should never play hands that can win in only one direction. After all, you might flop the best possible fl1sh, a full house, or even four-of-a-kind in a hand with a bunch of opponents. Even if you split the pot with a low hand, you'll make money.

But most of the time you won't be lucky enough to flop a good hand. In fact, much of the time you won't flop a real hand at all - you'll be drawing instead. Maybe it's a draw to the best possible straight or flush, or maybe you've flopped a big set and need the board to pair. If there's a pesky flush or straight draw that always seems to get there when you're in the pot, you'll need a higher flush or straight, or even a full house, to show down the best hand.

In such situations, you need to compare pot odds to the odds against making your hand. Then you can decide whether to continue playing. Although you don't have the best hand at this juncture, there's a silver lining in that cloud, and here it is: If you fail to make your hand and don't improve, you're certainly not going to call at showdown. Since you're going to save that last bet whenever you miss your hand, you're actually getting slightly better pot odds than any player with a made hand who's planning to bet on the river.

If you're playing Omaha high, these are simple issues - the very same ones you face playing Texas hold'em. After all, if the pot is offering four dollars for each dollar you have to wager, and the odds against making your hand are only 2-to-1, you're going to chase that hand every time. But what if you're playing Omaha/8 and figure to win only half the pot if you make your hand?

Suppose you can win a total of $500 for calling a $100 wager. That's a net profit of $400 (a total pot of five hundred dollars minus the $100 you invested by calling) and it's a good call if the odds against making your hand are only 2-to-1 or 3-to-1. But what if you're in an Omaha/8 games and figure to win only half the pot? When that happens, the dealer will push $250 dollars in your direction if you make the hand you are hoping for. And - Ugh! - what if you don't?

But let's say you win half the pot. While the size of your win was just cut in half, the odds against making your hand remained the same, and the cost to draw for half the pot was still $100, which was identical to the cost of drawing for the entire thing. Now your profit on that hand has been reduced from $400 to $150 (you'll receive a total of $250 for the same $100 investment, so your net profit now is only $150).

The odds have changed dramatically, since you've changed one side of the equation but not the other. Your profit has gone down considerably. yet your costs have stayed the same.

You'll see numerous instances in Omaha/8 and 7-stud/8 of opponents drawing for half the pot - when the payoff doesn't even come close to offsetting the odds against making their hand. In the long run, plays like these destroy bankrolls, one bet at a time. Let them be someone else's plays, not yours!

In Omaha/8 and 7-stud/8, scooping is the main strategic objective. While you won't scoop often, it's important to play hands that can scoop. Anytime you can play a hand offering a sure win of half the pot plus an opportunity - regardless of how long the odds may be against it - of winning the rest of the pot, too, you've got a fortunate situation. You've got a lock on half of the pot, and get to "freeroll" for the other half. Whenever you can draw to the remainder of the pot at no cost this way, you're getting infinite odds for your investment. You just can't lose on bets like that!

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