Umberto in Omaholdem Land

The side game after the monthly tournament was usually Omaha High, sometimes a mix of Omaha and Hold ‘Em like tonight, and on rare occasions, Dealer’s Choice. This variety led to more than infrequent misdeals, but most were easily rectifiable problems such as a dealer stopping after two hole cards during an Omaha hand.

Vincent the Veteran had just lost his stack and was collecting his belongings before leaving the table as the next hand began. Figaro the Fish thought Vince was buying back in, so he dealt him in for the current hand of Hold ‘Em. Umberto the Unlucky, distracted saying goodnight to Vince, looked down to find four cards on the table and assumed the game was Omaha.

Because the table was short and Umberto was in the cutoff, he called Elias the Eagle’s small raise despite a mediocre hand: A♠10♣10♦10♥. Leroy tagged along from the big blind, and the three of them saw a flop of K♠9♠7♥. When both opponents checked, Umberto tried to steal with a three-quarter pot bet, but neither player was convinced.

The dangerous 8♠ hit the turn, and again Umberto got two checks. Since he now expected that at least one of his opponents wanted him to bet, he happily checked, intending to bluff a quiet river with his nearly useless hand.

The 6♠ river filled a ton of draws but still elicited another pair of checks. The Unlucky one had nothing but a pair of Tens,1 so the only way to win the pot was to bluff. With his A♠ blocking the nut flush, he ventured a one-quarter pot bet as a value bluff. The tactic failed as both opponents called, and all Umberto could do was sigh and reveal his horrible hand.

[FF] Figaro was paying enough attention to scream, “Why do you have four cards?”

[UU] “I thought we were playing Omaha!?”

[LL] “No matter, I have him beat”, Leroy the Lion interrupted, revealing the 5♥4♥ for a Nine-high straight.

[EE] “And I have you beat”, Elias the Eagle added, showing the A♣2♠ for the worst possible but nonetheless winning flush.

[UU] “Just my luck. With any one of my four hole cards, I could win this hand, yet having twice as many hole cards and six times as many two-card combinations as you, I can’t beat either of your Hold ‘Em hands.”

[LL] “That’s justice for playing such a horrible starting hand. I suppose you’d expect to do even better if you were dealt four-of-a-kind.”

[EE] “Seneca the Younger2 claimed, ‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.’ But for Umberto, ‘Bad luck is what happens when aberration meets him with impunity.'”


  1. In Omaha, you must use exactly two cards in your hand and three on the board.
  2. Roman philosopher, born as Lucius Annaeus Seneca around 4 B.C.

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