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Starting Standards

Since it's typical in split-pot games for a motley bunch of opponents to chase the pot, starting standards are more important than in games yielding only one winner. It's a good rule of thumb to have the best draw if you're trying for a low hand. If you don't have a draw to the best low hand, you'll have to rely on getting lucky twice: first by catching great cards, and second by opponents catching poor ones - "bananas," as they're called in poker parlance.

Your first three cards need to work together to make playing the hand worthwhile. If they pull together harmoniously in both directions, so much the better. Remember: Scooping the entire pot is the objective in all split-pot games.
Since an ace is both the lowest and highest card, holding one is almost like playing eight cards against your opponent's seven. Having an ace as your door card (the face-up card of your first three) is highly advantageous: It's the best low card, but it's also intimidating - hey, you just might have a pair of aces! Plus, if you hold an ace, it's one less for opponents to catch

Moreover, your hand is confusing to read: Until a few more cards are exposed, opponents have no idea whether you're "going high," "going low," or - much worse for them - both.

For example, A?4?3? is an incredibly good starting hand. You have a draw to a great low hand plus the possibility of making a nut flush for high. If another ace comes your way, you'll have highest pair, with a chance of improving to two pair or three-of-a-kind. Other possibilities include winding up with a straight, two pair with a low, or even a "flushy-low," if you're lucky enough to make both a flush and a low hand. Starting hands don't come much better than this!

But as strong as an ace is, not every hand containing an ace is playable! A hand like A-9/8 probably won't win whether you're trying to build a high hand or a low one. So do yourself a favor: Even when your doorcard ace is smiling out confidently at the world, toss it away if your hole cards are dogs.

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