The Relative Strength of High Only Aces in Omaha Hi/Lo

High Only Pocket Aces - Omaha Hi/Lo

In Omaha Hi/Lo (Omaha 8) high only aces are a pair of aces with no qualifying low cards such as AAKQ - obviously this hand can only ever win the high side of the pot, but how much equity does this type of hand have, and when should we play it?

In the Teamo8 basic guides, we deliberately de-emphasized this hand, putting it in a group of hands with much smaller stack sizes than it can be profitably played at. This was quite deliberate so that players coming from other games, particularly Holdem, wouldn't get carried away with playing this kind of hand too often, and also to emphasize the importance of playing hands which can win both sides of the pot.

This article is in four parts:

  1. High Only Aces Might Be Stronger Than You Think
  2. When High Only Aces Are Behind
  3. When High Only Aces Are Crushed
  4. Summary

1. High Only Aces Might Be Stronger Than You Think

Let's take a look at a series of likely ranges you will be called by or face a shove from, and compare them to high only AAxx.

xxxx

But before we look at likely opposing ranges, let's look at how it matches up against 4 random cards. The first thing you'll notice is how little equity high only aces have particularly if you come from a different game such as Omaha Hi where you would have about 66% equity, or Holdem where a pair of Aces has about 85% equity against a random hand - not being able to win the low side of the pot really hurts.

600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A A [K,Q,J,T,9] [K,Q,J,T,9] 55.33% 261,728 398,187 4,519 0 0
* * * * 44.67% 197,294 197,294 4,519 215,793 0

Abw2

This is one of the most likely ranges you'll be up against if you're shoving or calling all in with a big stack - surprisingly the Aces have similar equity against this premium range as they did against a random hand. Although the equity drops a little, the robustness goes up - you get scooped ~15% less often than against the random hand above.

600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A A [K,Q,J,T,9] [K,Q,J,T,9] 53.46% 210,571 424,342 6,702 0 0
A [K,Q,J] [5,4,3] 2 46.54% 168,956 168,956 6,702 319,976 0

A432

This is the hand that makes the most nut lows - as you can see the total equity and robustness still doesn't change much.

104,830 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A A [K,Q,J,T,9] [K,Q,J,T,9] 53.56% 40,406 71,896 0 0 0
A 4 3 2 46.44% 32,934 32,934 0 56,970 0

A[Pb]2 - AKK2

Again, another likely hand that most players are happy to get all in with preflop with a decent sized stack - still not much has changed:

146,174 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A A [K,Q,J,T,9] [K,Q,J,T,9] 55.99% 57,117 105,505 1,060 0 0
A K K 2 44.01% 39,609 39,609 1,060 64,572 0

(Ab)(xw)

This double suited range (and single suited to the Ace) is one that you see many players willing to shove preflop with stacks well over 20bb particularly in Turbos and Hyper-Turbos - as you can see their flush strength does hurt a little, but the high only Aces are still just in front:

103,294 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A A [K,Q,J,T,9] [K,Q,J,T,9] 50.50% 34,746 66,922 3,162 0 0
A [K,Q,J] * [5,4,3,2] 49.50% 33,210 33,210 3,162 50,243 0

2. When High Only Aces Are Behind

From looking at the ranges above, you could be forgiven for thinking that high only aces always have the edge - but they don't. However, the ranges which are in front of the Aces are often ones which fewer players are prepared to commit their entire stacks with preflop.

ssww

This is the first range we've found that edges out the high only aces, although not by much:

96,766 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A A [K,Q,J,T,9] [K,Q,J,T,9] 49.04% 34,661 60,252 4 0 0
[8,7,6] [8,7,6] [5,4,3,2] [5,4,3,2] 50.96% 36,510 36,510 4 49,068 0

(ss)(ww)

As you can see, compared to the example above, being double suited adds more hurt to the Aces (it's also partly why I often advocate shoving this range with stacks over 10bb when short handed):

600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A A [K,Q,J,T,9] [K,Q,J,T,9] 44.89% 196,568 342,050 21 0 0
[8,7,6] [8,7,6] [5,4,3,2] [5,4,3,2] 55.11% 257,929 257,929 21 323,385 0

wwww

There's only 1 unpaired hand in this range without an ace - 5432:

600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A A [K,Q,J,T,9] [K,Q,J,T,9] 48.95% 221,218 366,177 0 0 0
5 4 3 2 51.05% 233,823 233,823 0 323,462 0

sssw

This hand, although unlikely to be played in a large pot all in preflop, stands up better against the high only aces than any of the others we've looked at so far:

600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A A [K,Q,J,T,9] [K,Q,J,T,9] 46.12% 198,620 354,820 42 0 0
8 7 6 [5,4,3,2] 53.88% 245,138 245,138 42 323,502 0

The strongest in this range is 8765 due to it's increased straight possibilities:
109,950 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A A [K,Q,J,T,9] [K,Q,J,T,9] 45.98% 36,832 64,273 11 0 0
8 7 6 5 54.02% 45,666 45,666 11 58,856 0

Of course it gets better when double suited:
600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A A [K,Q,J,T,9] [K,Q,J,T,9] 43.44% 189,030 332,229 36 0 0
8 7 6 5 56.56% 267,735 267,735 36 322,795 0

3. When High Only Aces Are Crushed

From reading all the match-ups above, it would appear that there is a strange inversion where the hands with the most equity against high only aces are the ones least likely to be played all-in preflop when the stacks are deep, therefore we should be more inclined to jam these aces the bigger our stack gets - right?

Not so fast...

The problem is that once your stack starts getting too big for the situation, people won't call with any of the ranges above, instead they'll only be calling with better Aces.

AAbs

This is nearly the weakest range of aces which can qualify for a low (a weaker example would be AA9s), and all of a sudden we find ourselves a long way behind in terms of equity. Interestingly the high only hand only gets scooped ~18% of the time, however it gets quartered frequently which is why the equity has dropped so much from the ranges above :

600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A A [K,Q,J,T,9] [K,Q,J,T,9] 40.84% 90,448 129,275 362,663 0 0
A A [K,Q,J] [8,7,6,5,4,3,2] 59.16% 108,062 108,062 362,663 263,764 0

AAss

This range is slightly further in front of the high only hand than the previous range because its low draw will be counterfeited slightly less often:

209,918 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A A [K,Q,J,T,9] [K,Q,J,T,9] 39.72% 35,869 51,085 109,450 0 0
A A [8,7,6,5,4,3,2] [8,7,6,5,4,3,2] 60.28% 49,383 49,383 109,450 104,357 0

(A3)(A2)

This is how the high only hand stacks up against the best starting hand in Omaha Hi/Lo:

600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A A [K,Q,J,T,9] [K,Q,J,T,9] 37.15% 96,998 142,445 281,610 0 0
A A 3 2 62.85% 175,945 175,945 281,610 302,905 0

4. Summary

Now that you have a good idea of how high only Aces stack up against many common ranges of hands, you should think about when you should be playing them.

Although they tend to be quite robust (they only get scooped about ⅓ of the time against many ranges), they can be very tricky hands to play post flop if they don't connect well with the board. For this reason they like to have most or all of their stack in preflop - similar to AK in Holdem.

NLO8

Obviously in No Limit games you can get your whole stack in before the flop, so you're pretty much good to go against a wide range of players with reasonable stack sizes.

However, don't get carried away getting all in against exceptionally tight players when the stacks are deep - if Aces make up a large percentage of their raising range then you don't want to be jamming over the top with a big stack. These are the types of players who's VPIP/PFR looks something like 15/5.

Also remember to be wary of exceptionally tight players who limp from early position - these types of players don't want to raise their Aces with weak starting lows (EG AA65), but they'll still call a shove after limping with quite large stack sizes.

An opportune time to play your high only aces in NLO8 is when shoving over the top of a loose open raiser because they'll fold out many of the hands which are in front of you (excluding AAxs) and call with Premium hands which you are slightly in front of.

PLO8

In Pot Limit games things get a bit trickier - as mentioned above these hands can be difficult to play post flop so you prefer to play them when you can get most or all of your stack in before the flop. The kinds of situations in which this will frequently be true are:

  • When your stack is under 4bb - but you were going to play any 4 cards anyway and high only aces are just a bonus;
  • When facing a single pot size raise and you're in the Blinds with 12bb or less;
  • When there's been a raise and a cold call in front of you.

FLO8

In Fixed Limit you generally prefer to play them from late position, and preferably when suited or double suited.

Be prepared to give them up to serious action on the flop and when they don't connect well with the board. Also don't get into a heads-up raising war when you flop a set of Aces on a low or low-draw board, as we've covered in several videos, you're nearly always behind in this situation and you're putting nearly half the chips into the pot with the hope of getting just half the pot back at showdown.

Calling down with them against a preflop raiser can be profitable on high boards - particularly when there's a flush draw your opponent (who likely open raised with a strong starting low) might be semi-bluffing at.

If you have any questions about playing high only aces, please ask in the comments below.

Comments

What is the best possible way to use an Omaha H/L odds calculator?

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