A few years ago Phil Hellmuth wanted to improve his Omaha Hi-Lo game and enlisted the help of “Miami” John Cernuto.
According to Hellmuth, Cernuto’s advice was to stick mostly to hands that contained three wheel cards.
On the surface, this sounds like a very solid way to play the game. However, keep in mind that not all three-wheel-card hands are created equal.
Let’s take a deeper look at these hands and the potential pitfalls involved with each.
- Hands Containing an A-2
If you've ever played Omaha Hi-Lo you already know that A-2 gives you the best shot of hitting the nut low. It makes sense, then, that the best three-card-wheel hands contain the A-2.
Hands like A-2-3-x, A-2-4-x, A-2-5x are obviously the ones you want to bet and raise with, especially when you're suited with the ace.
Suited aces give you more opportunities for a high hand since you're shooting for a nut flush along with the wheel or nut low.
Be careful when playing A-2-7 and A-2-8 hands when a deuce hits the board. Your low will be very weak at this point; you may want to drop this if you’re playing for low only.
2. Three Wheel Cards Without An Ace
When you get hands like 2-3-4-x, 2-3-5-x, 2-4-5-x, 2-4-6-x and 3-4-5-x, you definitely want to see a flop. But you must keep in mind that these hands play best when an ace hits the board.
If an ace is not on board your low may be outdrawn by one with an ace.
Suited cards in these types of hands do not normally give you as much value because they are not nut hands. They are more for “emergency” high hands.
When an ace doesn’t hit the board on the flop, you need to really have a draw to a straight or better in order to stay in the hand, especially if there is a lot of action.
After the flop, if the pot is multi-way, don’t chase low hands as you likely will have the second or third nut low at best.
3. Playing Unsuited Three-Wheel-Card Hands
We now will cover an area of strategy that trips up even experienced players. When you get a hand with three wheel cards that are completely unsuited, you need to be very careful in how you proceed.
Even hands that contain an A-2 become tricky. Hands like A-2-3-x, A-2-4-x, A-2-5-x, A-3-4-x, A-3-5x and A-4-5-x are playable when completely unsuited but you have to be careful after the flop.
If the flop comes with a flush draw or the board is paired, you're going to be playing for a one-way pot in a lot of cases.
This is a time where you need to be going after the nut low or nothing.
Many players fall into the trap of chasing with three wheel cards because of their low potential but overlook that the purpose is to scoop pots, not just chop them.
Also, don’t forget that in multi-way pots you’re looking at the chance of getting counterfeited if someone else hits the same low. Unless you have three players going all the way to showdown, you will lose money on those hands.
4. Don’t Fall in Love With Your Hand
While this sounds like Hold’em advice, be careful of falling in love with a three-card-wheel hand. Yes, they do offer some counterfeit protection, but each hand has to be evaluated at each stage.
Remember, your goal is to scoop pots and three-card-wheel cards can help you do that when played correctly.
However, failing to fold them when necessary will also cost you bets that you cannot easily replace.