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The "O" in H.O.R.S.E with T.J. Cloutier

25 June 2007

By Aaron Todd

While the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. tournament at the World Series of Poker has increased the visibility of mixed games, there are plenty of poker fans who only know about poker because of televised coverage, which has focused almost exclusively on No Limit Texas Hold'em.

As part of our coverage of the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. tournament at the WSOP, we're examining each game played in H.O.R.S.E., starting with Limit Hold'em on the first day of the five-day tournament and ending with Seven Card Stud Eight or Better on the tournament's final day.

We talked to five players, each with a WSOP bracelet in a poker variation included in H.O.R.S.E., and they shared some wisdom on how to play the game and how it fits into the overall structure of a H.O.R.S.E. tournament.

Day Two: Omaha Hi-Low Eight or Better
There aren't many people who are better at H.O.R.S.E. than T.J. Cloutier, and he passes our test in that he won a bracelet in Omaha Hi-Low. In fact, he's won bracelets in just about every game there is.

Cloutier owns six WSOP bracelets and is tied for the all-time record for final tables with Phil Hellmuth with 39. Cloutier's last final table came at last year's $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event.

CCT: Other than the basic rules and structure of the game, what is the first lesson a player should learn about Omaha Hi-Low?

T.J. Cloutier: You don't play any trap hands like 3-4-5-6 that look like they're going to be good low hands, but they're horrible and they're only going to get you in trouble.

CCT: What is the most common mistake that players, even experienced players, make in Omaha Hi-Low?

T.J. Cloutier: When people play either all high hands or low hands that don't have any chance of winning the high end. Obviously the best hand is A-A-2-3 double suited, but where people make mistakes they get in there with hands like A-5-10-J and they think they have a hand because it's suited. They get in a lot of trouble with those kinds of hands.

CCT: Do you need to catch cards to play well in Omaha Hi-Low? Or can you chase people out of pots with well-timed bluffs?

T.J. Cloutier: No, that's not a stealing game. You've got to play decent hands and hit some flops. But that's only one-fifth of the game. The idea is that you don't get in there and lose a bunch of chips with hands that you shouldn't be in there with.

CCT: How important is Omaha Hi-Low in the overall structure of a H.O.R.S.E. tournament?

T.J. Cloutier: They're all the same. Every one has equal value. I don't like splitting pots. I'm one of these guys that likes to win it all. But most of the pots will be split. The key to the whole game is the pots you sweep where you get both ways, or there's only a high hand out there. You use the basic strategy and then you play tournament strategy. The whole idea behind H.O.R.S.E. is if you know how to play tournament strategy you can get (to the final table) if you hold any cards. Just don't make any stupid mistakes and play hands that you shouldn't play, like middle cards in Omaha Hi-Low.

Check back tomorrow, when we talk Razz with "The First Lady of Poker" Linda Johnson.

The "O" in H.O.R.S.E with T.J. Cloutier is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd has covered the gambling industry since 2006. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and (his personal favorite) Badeuci.

Since graduating from St. Lawrence University, Aaron has worked as a journalist covering the gambling industry and as a communications specialist in college athletic departments.

A native of a small town in New York just south of Ottawa, Aaron lives in Needham, Mass., with his wife and three children. Write to Aaron at aarontodd@casinocity.com, and follow him on Twitter @CasinoCity_AT.