Category Archives: Rules/Strategy

WSOP Bracelet Winner Analyzes a Hand of Omaha Hi Low

Hey High Rollers, very happy to bring this post with the aid of my buddy Calen ‘Big Wheel’ McNeil, a Canadian, who in 2013 won WSOP gold in Event #20, $1,500 Omaha Hi Low 8 or Better. The following year he finished 4th in the very same event. The guy can play! Here, he responds to a listener question about a hand in a $5 NLO8 tourney on Full Tilt Poker.

Listener Question:

I was in the hijack seat, with the blinds at 120/240 in a game of No Limit Omaha Eight or Better, and I raised to 720 with AK36 (3 clubs, including the Ace). The button calls. The small blind ships it all-in for my entire stack. I decided to fold, leaving myself just 15 big blinds. Should I be calling there?
Calen McNeil Answer:
I think in that spot when you raise your committing yourself to the hand. You have two low cards and a big suited ace. That is good enough to go with when you’re short stacked and under 20bb. In the future, perhaps limp the hijack or make it 480. That makes folding more of an option. In this spot folding shouldn’t be an option with that hand and when you make it 3x. If you had only one low card, in this case a 3 and, say a 9 instead of a 6, you might open fold. If you had a 3 and a 10 I would go with it. The 3 and the 6 definitely make it a raise ‘to get it in’ hand. If you had a 5 or a 4, or obviously a 2, to go with the three it’s the same thing. Raise to get it in.

Listener Reply: 
Thanks. I feel I’m playing too tight in certain spots. Especially when there is a caller behind and then an all-in, my gut tells me I’m always crushed there.


Calen McNeil:

When raising from steal spots (button) people can raise you all-in with any A2 hand or double suits and the like. Your hand plays well against a wide range of hands your opponent could be doing this with. You are crushed against ACES with a Deuce. That’s a pretty tight range to be crushed by in my opinion, especially in this spot. I like to raise smaller amounts which allows me not to get too pot committed.

Editor’s Note:
A day after submitting that question to Calen McNeil, our High Roller sent us a note saying he won his daily $5 NLO8 event for $96. Sweet.

Called McNeil’s bracelet in 2013 was one of 10 won by Canadians and another, Marc Etienne McLaughlin, finished 6th in the main event.
2015 World Champion Joseph McKeehan is a pretty good player. The North Wales, Pennsylvania, native took a lot of criticism on social media for ‘running good’ during the 2015 November Nine. But, since that main event final table McKeehan has already amassed close to $1.8 million in earnings. His run includes a win at the Fall Wynn Classic, a 2nd place finish at the PCA $100k High Roller event for $1.2 million and a 4th at the Borgata Winter Open for $249,267. The guy can play.
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Are you a STUD? 7-Card Stud Pointers

Are you a STUD?


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Keys to Success in 7-Card Stud

Hand selection – be very strict and disciplined in selecting what hands you play in this game.  Patience is a virtue but it is also a money-maker!

Discipline – tight is right!  You don’t want to be chasing with the 2nd best hand.

• Reading your Opponent – the ability to read opponents is crucial in 7-Card Stud.  Never wqaste time at the table; when you’re not in a hand be vigilant about watching your opponents.

• Memory – you MUST remember all of the other players’ up cards.  This will help you make decisions on later streets.

7-Card Stud vs. Texas Hold’em

The differences between 7-Card Stud and Texas Hold’em are not subtle.  They are quite obvious once you sit down at the table:

• There are no community cards.

• Ante and a bring-in bets are used instead of blinds.

• There are five betting rounds as compared to four in Hold’em.

• The player who has the best starting hand starts the action on every betting round, except for the first round of betting, when the lowest up card begins with the ‘Brinmg In.’

• You must remember the folded up cards.

• The number of players is limited to a maximum of eight.

• There is no positional advantage before the cards are dealt. The cards determine who acts first and last on every betting round.

•There is no dealer button, as every hand is dealt in the same order starting at the dealer’s immediate left.

Structure and Antes

• All players receive two cards dealt face down (hole cards) and one card dealt face up (up card). The cards are dealt one at a time.

• The player with the lowest up card has to make a ‘set’ bring-in bet.

• The betting continues clockwise with the player to the left of the bring-in bet.

• A fourth card is dealt face up. The action begins with the player holding the best up cards and continues clockwise.

• A fifth card is dealt face up. The action begins with the player holding the best up cards and continues clockwise.

• A sixth card is dealt face up. The action begins with the player holding the best up cards and continues clockwise.

• A seventh card is dealt face down. The action begins with the player holding the best up cards and continues clockwise.

• All remaining players make out the best possible five-card poker hand.

Most Common Betting Structure in 7-Card Stud:

Limit/Ante/ Bring/Opening Bet















Tips & Advice

• Choose the correct starting hand given the situation.

• Play the player!  Who plays what and how often? Who can be bluffed?  Who’s aggressive?

• Pump it or dump it!  Fold or raise, it’s your best bet in this poker variation.  Calling should be saved for special occasions, like when you’re trapping an opponent.

• Remember the up card!  Again, we can’t stress this enough.  Pay attention and study your opponents’ up cards and remember them.   For instance, if you are on a straight draw it is important to remember if your ‘Gin’ cards are still out there.

• Raise with your strong draws; betting on the come is even more valuable in Stud than in Hold’em.

(Thanks to Poker Listings for the inspiration behind this page)

Reasons to Call or Raise? Hand Reading

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Reasons to Raise

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Unlike the ‘Call’, the ‘Raise’ can win the pot in two ways instead of one.  When you call you must have the best hand at the river to claim the pot.  However, raising gives you to opportunities to win; the other player may fold, in which case you stack the chips, and if he/she calls you, you can still win with the best hand at showdown. An opening bet is considered a ‘Raise’ for strategy purposes here.  If an opening bet is raised that is called a “Re-Raise” or ‘3-bet.’

Why Raising is Crucial:

• To get more money in the pot when you have the best hand.  Bet-sizing is important because in many cases you are ‘Raising’ for value.  Bumping the bet is vital because you obviously want to have more chips in the middle when you have the goods.

• To drive out opponents!  If you have the best hand but it is vulnerable due to a variety of possible draws on the board you may consider bumping it large to protect your hand.  If you have made a hand ‘Raising’ may protect your hand by driving out opponents, enticing them to fold drawinmg hands that may improve on turn or river.

• To bluff or semi-bluff!  Raising the pot may cause better hands to fold.  This is a good thing.  Make them believe you have ‘The Nuts.’  In the case of semi-bluff, if you are called you may still make your hand and in.  Always leave yourself an out!  Semi-bluffs often lead to winning or losing large pots.  If your opponent has the best hand, many times you can entice a fold by making a large ‘Raise’, effectively making them believe you have the goods.

• To get a free card: If you flop a flush draw and are in position it might be worthwhile ‘Raising’ a bet fired at you because many times your opponent will check to you on the turn, respecting the strength you’ve just shown.  If you miss your flush card you can simply check behind and get a FREE river card.

To gain information: You may consider Raising to see what your opponent does, to see how they react to your raise.  You are trying to determine the strength of your opponent’s holdings.  Again, they may fold in this spot and you win.  If they ‘Re-Raise’ you, you can safely assume a fold is correct.

• To drive out better hands when a ‘Come’ hand bets:  If your opponent is betting an apparent drawing hand and another player Raises, you can ‘Re-Raise’ and players behind you yet to act will fold decent holdings.  This is a form of ‘Isolation’ play and ‘Squeeze’ play.

Reasons to Call

There are several reasons for calling a bet or raise:

To see more cards: With a drawing hand, you want to see that next card, potentially a winner for you, and you want to do it as cheaply as possible.  Calculate your pot odds and if you are receiving the right price make the call.

• To limit loss in equity: Calling may be appropriate when you think you’re beat but the pot odds suggest a call is correct in the long-term.

• To avoid a re-raise: Calling denies the original bettor the opportunity of re-raising a monster holding.

• To conceal the strength of your hand: If you flop a monster or are holding pocket aces, sometimes a smooth call may be appropriate, not only to mix up your play but to extract maximum value as well.  A smooth call hides your strength and may set you up to win more money on later streets.  Slow playing folks!

To manipulate pot odds: By calling (not raising), a player offers other opponents yet to act behind you more favorable pot odds to also call. They get the ‘Right Price.’  For example, if you flop a monster, or ‘The Nuts’, a smooth call may entice others to put money in then pot.  Build the pot baby.

To set up a bluff on a later streets: Sometimes for a long-time referred to as a long-ball bluff but these days it’s called ‘Floating’, calling on an earlier betting round to set up a bluff (or semi-bluff) on a later betting round.


Hand Reading & Tells

‘Hand Reading’ is a crucial skill in the game of poker; the process of making educated guesses about the possible cards an opponent may be holding based on the sequence of actions in the pot.  A ‘Tell’ is a detectable change in an opponent’s behavior or demeanor giving clues about his hand.  Educated guesses about an opponent’s cards can help you avoid mistakes in your own play, induce mistakes by opponent(s), or  influence you to take actions he would normally not take under the circumstances.

For example;  a body language ‘Tell’ might suggest your opponent has missed a draw and holds a weak hand but you also missed a draw and believe your hand is even weaker.  In this case, using the tell to your advantage, you may decide bluff would be more effective than usual.

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Poker Tips for Beginners

Poker Tips for Beginners

The worst starting hand in poker (if unsuited, lol)

The worst starting hand in poker (if unsuited, lol)

• Fold Fold Fold!

–          Do NOT be afraid to fold.  As we have stressed before, “we would rather make a bad fold than a bad call” because it saves you money in the long run.

–          Feel free to fold frequently. It is better to sacrifice your small early bets than roping yourself into an expensive call later in the hand.

–          As a general rule, if you have a marginal hand it tends not to improve.  Don’t go chasing draws unless the price is right!

• Do not fall in love!

–          Even though Pocket Aces is the best hand to start with, they may not be good anymore after at 7, 8, 9, all diamonds flop.

–          The board has killed many a powerful hand before!

–          If you suspect what your gut is telling you – that you’re BEAT, you probably are.

• Practice, Practice, Practice!

–          Learn the game by playing the game.

–          Watch your opponents learn what to do and what not to do from them.

–          Try new things and try to ‘find’ profitable situations.

–          Ask better players questions, do not be afraid to get their opinion on how you played a hand.

• Study your opponents’ !

–          When you are not in the hand pay attention to those who are!  Pay attention and it will prove worthwhile in later situations.

–          Do they find more hands to play than fold?  Do they bluff?  Can they be bluffed?  Do they have any “tells” (give away mannerisms) that disclose information about their hands etc.

• Get caught bluffing once in a while!

–          This is a good way to ’Advertise’ that you are unpredictable.  It will pay off in later action.

–          There is an old saying, “If you never get caught bluffing you are most certainly not bluffing enough.

–          When you’re bluff doesn’t work you lose only a few chips but you gain some long-term equity.



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Facebook GIVEAWAY on High Roller Radio

Killer shirt, Killer story, Killer GIVEAWAY!!!  Next facebook draw will be for a High Roller Radio t-shirt, which comes with two designs’ Royal Flush diamonds with an American flag in background and the old Jack, 8 of clubs with a Canadian …flag in background.  One shirt even has both designs on it…the designs have special meaning and were actually tattooed on prosthetic legs by an excellent artist in Southern California, from a shop called INKED ADDICTS…his name is YEB1.  Thank-you YEB1…we will get you on the show, I promise. Stay tuned for draw details.
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Photo: Killer shirt, Killer story, Killer GIVEAWAY!!!  Next facebook draw will be for a High Roller Radio t-shirt, which comes with two designs' Royal Flush diamonds with an American flag in background and the old Jack, 8 of clubs with a Canadian flag in background.  One shirt even has both designs on it...the designs have special meaning and were actually tattooed on prosthetic legs by an excellent artist in Southern California, from a shop called INKED ADDICTS...his name is YEB1.  Thank-you YEB1...we will get you on the show, I promise. Stay tuned for draw details.</p> <p>TO ENTER: simply LIKE our facebook page...if you already have you're in....SHARE this post and your name goes in the hat 5 times.</p> <p>Good luck and good gambling.
Nice shirt eh?

Basic Poker Tells

Hey High Rollers, we’ve had some great authors on the show and a couple of them have talked about poker tells.  Zachary Elwood is author of Reading Poker Tells, a great book that explores the issue…might want to check out our q&a’s with him at under the AUTHORS tab.  Today, we give you some basic poker tells…it’s funny because I’m playing at Commerce and I spot these all the time…do you?


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Basic Poker Tells

A Player Glances at his Stack

What’s the tell? A player glances immediately down at his chips for a split second as soon as he sees his cards.  This almost always means that your opponent’s hole cards are strong.  He is taking an inventory of his chip stack because he intends on betting or raising.

What to do when you spot it?  Play only premium hands!  Your opponent is almost always strong in this spot.

A Player Suddenly Awakens with a Hand

What’s the tell?  A player who has been slouching in his chair suddenly seems alive and vibrant, as if he’s totally interested in what’s about to transpire.  He goes from the slouch to the lean forward. This too almost always means he or she is strong!  He has been revived and expects to in the hand.

What to do when you spot it?  Again, play cautiously and be ready to throw away cards you might otherwise go to war with.  Someone who is leaning in to you, toward the table, means they are interested in the hand.  It’s genuine strength High Rollers.

Showboats Bet Too

What’s the tell?  A player makes a large bet by throwing or splashing his chips into the pot in an over-the-top manner, a fashion that indicates he is strong but in actual fact is trying to hide his weakness.  The player’s hand is weak or marginal at best, and he is trying to bluff you out of the pot by drawing as much attention to the large bet as possible.  It’s an act meant to scare you folks.

What to do when you spot it? Call this player with even a marginal hand, and raise a hand you might otherwise just have called with.  In Mike Caro’s classic poker book, The Body Language of Poker, he categorizes this tell with perhaps the best poker body language tip ever: “Weak means strong and strong means weak.”  In other words, you fold if the player is trying to look weak and call/raise if the player is trying to look strong.

The Disinterested Party

What’s the tell?  While waiting for an opponent to act (to call, raise or fold), the player in question is deliberately staring away from the table, as if he/she doesn’t care about the action. The player has a strong hand and wants his opponents to enter the pot.

What to do when you spot it?  If you have the option of checking, you should definitely do so and wait for this actor to make his move. If he bets, you should fold a weak or marginal hand.  You checked in order to save yourself money. If, however, you have a very strong hand, you might still want to check, let him bet and either call or raise.

The Stare-Down

What’s the tell?  You opponent throws some chips in the pot and then stares right at you.   This is the exact opposite of the previous tell. He is trying to scare you out by appearing confident and strong.

What to do when you spot it?  Don’t fall for it. Call or raise and show them that you are in charge at this table!


What’s the tell?  A chatty player is telling a story at the beginning of a hand but stops talking or seems to lose track of his story when he looks at his hole cards.  The player has a very strong hand and his thoughts on how to maximize his winnings have interrupted his monologue.

What to do when you spot it?  Do not bet into him unless you have it!  Even a mediocre hand would not have sidetracked table-talker so be careful.  The story doesn’t matter anymore, the hand does.

Mr. Shaky Hands

What’s the tell?  A player’s hands appear to tremble as he/she puts chips in the pot.   This guy has a monster hand and is trying very hard to control any outward signs of emotion.   Unfortunately for them, they’re so wound up and nervous that they’re actually shaking.

What to do when you spot it?  Get the hell out of Dodge, because this guy is rock solid.

(It’s all in the body language High Rollers!)

Of course, one of my favorites, the MAD GENIUS OF POKER Mike Caro wrote the Bible on tells, The Book of Tells.

The Mad Genius of Poker

The Mad Genius of Poker

Did you know?

Mike Caro also wrote a chapter in Doyle Brunson’s Super System.

Omaha Hi/Lo Split 8 or Better

July 28, 2013: Sunday, so I decided to treat myself and play a $5 Omaha Hi/Low Split 8 or Better tournament on Full Tilt poker…of course I have visions of winning it, just interviewed Calen ‘Big Wheel’ McNeil, a Canadian who just captured his 1st WSOP bracelet in this event.  I entered, then realized I better look up the rules (not really) and some basic tips (yes, this I needed) like playable hands, best starting hands etcetera.  So far so good!
Did you know?  Omaha was invented by former guest of High Roller Radio Robert Turner.  He proved to be an outstanding storyteller when interviewed by High Roller Radio’s Lori Kolstad.
Below are the best possible starting hands in Omaha Hi Low Split 8 or Better, playable hands and hand rankings.  Enjoy.
Omaha was invented by Robert Turner, former guest of our show!

Omaha was invented by Robert Turner, former guest of our show!

Omaha Hi/Lo – Top 10 List
•A-A-2-3 DS
•A-A-2-4 DS
•A-A-2-3 Suited
•A-A-2-5 DS
•A-A-2-4 Suited
•A-A-3-4 DS
•A-A-2-3 Non-suited
•A-A-2-2 DS
•A-A-3-5 DS
•A-A-2-6 DS
Playable Starting Hands
A-2-x-x (Suited ace)
2-3-4-5 (Fold if there is no ace on the flop)
2-3-4-x (Fold if there is no ace on the flop)
Any four cards between a 10 and an ace.
Hand Ranks (from 10th to 1st)
  • 8, 7, 6, 5, 4
  • 8, 7, 6, 5, 3
  • 8, 6, 4, 2, A
  • 8, 4, 3, 2, A
  • 7, 6, 5, 4, 2
  • 7, 6, 5, 2, A
  • 7, 5, 4, 3, 2
  • 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
  • 6, 4, 3, 2, A
  • 5, 4, 3, 2, A
Very interesting.  I’ve already folded some hands I would have otherwise played, if not for the above info.  It’ll be on the site soon!  Wish me luck!