High/low split games are very popular in many card rooms across the country. Some casinos also spread HORSE or HOSE style games, which consist of several different kinds of poker. In these formats, High/Low split games are quite common. Omaha High/Low is played as part of the Tournament of Champions format, and both Omaha High/Low and Stud High/Low events are spread as part of many major tournaments. Further, when these games are spread, they are often fairly soft, populated by weak players content to play for half of the pot. Therefore, every serious poker player should be at least proficient in both of these games.
As one might expect, this is really two books under a common cover. There are some very brief opening remarks and a shared glossary at the end. Other than this, each book stands on its own. Stud High/Low is discussed first, followed by Omaha High/Low. I’ve played a fair bit of Omaha High/Low, and so I consider myself to be a pretty good judge of writing about this game, but haven’t played Stud High/Low that many times, and while I think I understand basic winning play, I would not classify myself as an expert. Ray Zee, however, is widely considered to be one of the best poker players alive, and is certainly qualified to write a textbook on both games.
In the Stud High/Low section of the book, Zee starts by discussing what makes a good High/Low starting hand, followed by a chapter about playing one’s hand on progressive streets. Next, we receive information about various intricacies of the game, various kinds of Stud High/Low split games one might encounter, and other skills that are important. This section ends with a quiz on the material covered, a feature I really adore in the Two Plus Two books, followed by a conclusion.
Overall, I found the information here to be very strong. I feel I learned a great deal about this game. Not everything Zee states was obvious to me, but after reflection based on a broad ligaz11 poker understanding, his strategies seem to me to be correct. Again, while I haven’t played in hundreds of hours of Stud High/Low split in my life, Zee’s information has been valuable when I have played, seem to be successful, and correspond well to general poker theory. This is certainly the best Stud High/Low strategy I’ve seen in print.
The second section covers Omaha High/Low. After some introductory remarks, Zee describes basic strategy for playing this game, followed by “Advanced Strategy”, including starting hand selection and play on the flop. This is followed by details on playing under specific circumstances, like short handed or pot-limit play. Zee then discusses other skills, and ends the section with a quiz and a conclusion.
While this section is the strongest information I’ve seen on Omaha High/Low in print, I don’t think it’s as strong as the Stud High/Low section, nor do I think it’s as strong as it could be. For example, there’s more to short handed play than is written here, the game changes drastically from the “hold the nuts plus draws to better hands” strategy of a full game. There are also some uncommon situations that come up in this game that I think are worth mentioning. I’d also extend some of the advice provided in this chapter. For example, the author discusses situations where one has a lock low, but one knows another lock is out there, and the pot is so small that it is the right play to throw away one’s hand. While this can certainly happen, if this circumstance comes up more than once per session, I think the player would be well advised to find another game.
Overall, this is a very strong book, and I recommend it for all poker players. While High-Low-Split Poker For Advanced Players may not be perfect, it’s rare to find good information in print on these games, and this is the best I’ve seen. Also, the deficiencies I have mentioned about this book are entirely problems of omission. I hope that Ray Zee can be persuaded to write a second edition where the two books are expanded and broken up into separate volumes. I would guess that there’s enough extra information to justify this for Stud High/Low, but I feel certain that this is true for Omaha High/Low. Until such time, every serious poker player would be well advised to study this book.
The best writing in print I’ve seen on Stud High/Low and Omaha High/Low. While the Stud High/Low section appears to me to be better written than the Omaha High/Low section, they are both very strong and well worth serious study. I believe there is probably enough extra information that could be written about these game to justify expanding each section and splitting this volume into two separate books, but I recommend it as it is now nonetheless.