Sunday, March 8, 2009

Go big or go home

Gump dropped me an email asking about my play in a hand that went down while we were sitting together yesterday. Basically, I has 7 7 9 10, called an UTG raise that had two other callers. A gapped wrap has a certain potential and often merits seeing the flop, especially when one has position. I had called an UTG pot-sized bet, so it was relatively cheap. I was in the CO and the Button folded. I hit my 7 and ended up taking down the pot with a 10 high flush. It all came down to implied odds and position.

Gump’s question reminded me of another hand from late last night. At about two o'clock in the morning, rooms become jam fests. Either you participate or sit there and fold every hand until you manage to get your double-suited Aces stacked by trip fours. Whacked out, to be sure:

PokerStars Pot-Limit Omaha, $0.10 BB (8 handed) - Poker-Stars Converter Tool from

Button ($1.90)
SB ($7.70)
BB ($8.30)
UTG ($7.45)
UTG+1 ($6.15)
MP1 ($10.10)
MP2 ($10)
Hero (CO) ($9.85)

Preflop: Hero is CO with 8, 6, 7, 4

UTG calls $0.10, 3 folds, Hero calls $0.10, Button bets $0.40, 1 fold, BB calls $0.30, UTG raises to $1.75, Hero calls $1.65, Button raises to $1.90 (All-In), BB raises to $8.30 (All-In), UTG calls $5.70 (All-In), Hero calls $6.55

Every other hand is playing out like this. Even though I have a pretty good wrap with a single gap on the ass end, I'm looking for a cheap flop. The Button's raise is not such a concern at this point as he is short-stacked. If everyone folds, I might see a flop and fold if I don't hit hard. He has so little behind that it simply isn't worth the effort. However, the BB's call will make it worthwhile for me to call. But then, what's this? UTG re-raises? He must have limped with Aces in the hole and is now looking to narrow the field. I know what the Button's next move is going to be, so I'm still going to be getting good odds with my smooth call while waiting for the button to jam.

I don't know if I could have seen what came next. The BB jamming? He merely called the initial raise, perhaps more out of concern for his position, and now he wants to play for stacks? I know UTG is going to call, so it looks like we're playing for stacks. More importantly, in situations like this, we're typically looking at a lot of paint and Aces already out, which is good for me. I call. With everyone else already all-in, I set the auto-pilot.

Flop: ($26) 4, 8, 7 (4 players, 3 all-in)

And just like that, I'm ahead.

Turn: ($26) 2 (4 players, 3 all-in)

OK, we can be fairly certain that someone has hit a flush. Just who is the recipient will determine how this hand ends for me.

River: ($26) 5 (4 players, 3 all-in)

Could be salt in the wound...

Total pot: $26 | Rake: $1.30


Button had Q, 9, Q, J (flush, Jack high).

BB had A, Q, 4, K (one pair, fours).

UTG mucked A, 6, 10, A (one pair, Aces).

Hero had 8, 6, 7, 4 (straight, eight high).

Outcome: Button won $7.30, Hero won $17.40

This hand might raise a lot of eyebrows; yet in Omaha, it is not out of the ordinary. Some might say I was lucky. Inasmuch as the flop was kind, yes, I was. However, when I know what I'm up against, there is more of a sound decision involved than reciting the worst four words in poker: "Maybe I'll get lucky."

There is another component that is at play in the micro Omaha rooms. As my buddy Stan says, Omaha is where the NLHE fish come to die. They love the action but are unable to make the transition from "big-card poker" to a game that requires a certain amount of imagination and flexibility. Granted, all players new to Omaha are going to frustrated that their Aces don't hold up like the "should." Aces in the hole is still a good hand, as are Kings and, to some extent, even Queens, but if one plays them with blinders on, prepare to be stacked.

As this session progressed, the player who had the Button in the above hand continued to be aggressive and won a couple smaller pots without a showdown. It may be a leak in my game, yet that is like dangling a carrot and I will occasionally call light preflop.

PokerStars Pot-Limit Omaha, $0.10 BB (9 handed) - Poker-Stars Converter Tool from

BB ($11.75)
UTG ($6.90)
UTG+1 ($5.45)
MP1 ($3.40)
MP2 ($6.45)
MP3 ($10)
CO ($9.90)
Button ($10.25)
Hero (SB) ($18.75)

The villain is the same player as the Button in the above hand, and is the BB this time.

Preflop: Hero is SB with 3, 10, Q, Q

2 folds, MP1 calls $0.10, 3 folds, Button calls $0.10, Hero calls $0.05, BB bets $0.35, 2 folds, Hero calls $0.25

Heads up and a little less than 3:1 preflop is okay with me.

Flop: ($0.90) 9, Q, 2 (2 players)

Hero checks, BB bets $0.60, Hero raises to $2.70, BB calls $2.10

A rational player would have folded to my re-raise with this board but this guy had already demonstrated a tendency toward blind aggression. His smooth call told me he was looking for a two-outer with Kings or Aces. He may also have a Broadway wrap like 10 J Q K.

Turn: ($6.30) 7 (2 players)

Hero bets $6, BB calls $6

River: ($18.30) A (2 players)

OK, he may have hit his set or Broadway. Good for him. If so, with so much in the pot, I'll pay him off. If not, he can save his $2.70.

Hero bets $2.70, BB calls $2.70 (All-In)

Total pot: $23.70 | Rake: $1.10


Hero had 3, 10, Q, Q (three of a kind, Queens).

BB mucked J, K, J, K (one pair, Kings).

Outcome: Hero won $22.60

A big pair and a gutshot. Man, I love late-night weekend sessions!


This second hand was a milestone for me, as it put my bankroll at 51 buy-ins at this level. I wish I could say that I am ready to move up, but I am not. For one, I seem to be crushing the $10 game; secondly, I haven't finished absorbing Hwang, and judging from how I am conceptualizing the test hands, I have a ways to go before I have what I would consider to be a comfortable level of skill to compete with better players; and lastly, $25 still seems like a lot of money. I'm thinking maybe a couple more hundred at this level...


Memphis MOJO said...

Glad you're doing well, and, more importantly, have a grasp for what is going on.

I am reading Super System. There is a pot-limit Omaha chapter and a chapter on PLO8. I like PLO8 better as I tend to look for low hands or fold since I don't know what a good high hand looks like yet.

I played in the Poker sluts tournament (it was PLO8) tonight. It was only a $5.50 buy-in, so figured it was a cheap lesson. I made the final table! but then busted out on a stupidity. What is it you say? Baby steps. Yep, that's me and Omaha right now.

bastinptc said...

The Super System chapters are good primers, and undoubtedly an essential read before dipping a toe.

As you know, I'm not much of a tournament player, probably because I don't like the idea of not being able to reload/recoup. I know you play both cash and tourneys fairly regularly. Do you have any thoughts on some stereotypical personality differences between the those who are primarily tourney players versus cash players?