Throughout our career in poker, although we are only amateurs, it is certain that we have heard many times that poker was a zero sum game. This is one of the best known definitions of this card game and which refers to the fact that for there to be a winner there must be a loser. One player collects another’s chips, and this makes the competition ever more intense. Another consequence is that there is therefore only one winner per round. But it is obvious that there are several exceptions to this rule, and in particular in certain alternative variants of poker where the winnings can be divided between several players.
This is what is called the “split”, but before we delve deeper into this concept, there are a few clarifications to be made beforehand. The first is that the split comes originally from the Stud variation. In it, players are dealt three cards to each hand, two of which are face down and one face up. If a player can have a pair with his two cards hidden, we will speak of a connected pair. But if the pair is formed with a hidden card and the visible card, then we will speak of a split or split pair. And that’s where the term comes from.
It was only later that this notion was transposed to the distribution of pots, and it was then that it took on great importance. First of all, we must say here that splitting can only occur in games where it is stated in the rules that pots can be split. In the variant texas-holdemthis almost never happens, because all the chips always go to the best hand. It will only be in the event of a tie, that is to say with two players having exactly the same hand, that the chips will be distributed equitably between the two adversaries. The other exception is in case of all-inwhere other specific rules come into play regarding the distribution of chips with the creation of a secondary pot.
What is really important is that there are instances where a true split can occur around a poker table. In that case, the pot splits in half with one half for the highest hand and the other half for the lowest hand. This system gives players more options to pick up tokens, but obviously can prove more detrimental if unsuccessful. It will therefore be essential to have a specific strategy for this type of situation. The split completely changes the way of playing and knowing how to adapt will be essential to triumph.
One of the keys is to understand that systematically going for a low hand so getting at least half the pot isn’t as wise a strategy as it seems. Our game will indeed become much too conformist, while the goal for all players remains to leave with the entire pot without any opponent managing to eclipse our hand. Thus, there is not imposed on each part a high high and a main bass. It may also be that there is only one left, which will therefore be considered both the highest and the lowest, and will therefore win the whole pot.
Wanting to win the whole pot is the best goal an inexperienced player can set. Only players with more experience may be able to have both high and low hand considerations in mind and know how to play them, as this requires sophisticated mathematical calculations which could be very confusing for an amateur who would then take the risk of leaving the game. And that would be even worse than simply losing a pot due to bad luck or a mistake on our part. The most important thing is always to avoid the tilt.
One of the curiosities of split poker games is that the pot does not always divide into halves but also sometimes into quarters. This usually occurs in the Omaha variant where it is stated that such a situation is possible. Indeed, in this very specific game, it is possible that a player has the best hand, which already allows him to win half the pot, or is also tied with another player for the lowest hand. In this case, the player with the high hand wins three quarters of the pot and the one with the low hand the last remaining quarter.
The high hand simply refers to the strongest hand around the table, the one that can take everything in Texas Hold’em. But the low hand is more complex. It is usually composed of cards ranging from 8 down, that is to say a combination of five cards where the 8 would be the highest card. But let’s not forget that it all depends on the variant played and the specific rules of each tournament or game mode. Immerse yourself in this form of play if you feel like it, and enjoy poker with splits to the fullest.
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