Seneca Summer Slam

A Pot-Limit Omaha Cash Game Hand with Brian Hastings

Brian Hastings

Brian Hastings boasts nearly half a million dollars in tournament winnings, but he's better known for his cash-game prowess. He's famous for his enormous $4 million win over Viktor "Isildur1" Blom. Of course, with online poker out of the picture for the U.S.-based player, Hastings has been playing live cash games.

He spoke with PokerNews about a hand he played in a pot-limit Omaha game at Bellagio. For his fellow players' anonymity, Hastings referred to the hand in big blinds.

Stack Sizes

Brian Hastings: 85 big blinds
Small Blind: 200 big blinds
Big Blinds: 80 big blinds

Preflop Action: Hastings raised to 2.5 big blinds on the button holding {9-}{9-}{8-}{6-} with two diamonds. The small blind reraised to five big blinds. The big blind called, and Hastings called.

For those who aren't familiar with pot-limit Omaha, are those standard raise and reraise sizes?

A small reraise out of position is very uncommon but happens on occasion. In position, it’s more common, mainly to try to isolate one opponent.

What were you thinking when he made this somewhat odd reraise?

I thought he could have anything and that he just wanted to build a slightly bigger pot with most likely some kind of coordinated, double-suited hand. It could either be very strong like queen-jack-ten-nine double-suited or weaker like king-jack-six-five double-suited, but I would guess it’s more likely a weaker one.

Flop Action: The flop came {8-}{7-}{3-} with two spades. Everyone checked.

What was going through your mind on this flop?

When they checked to me, I thought the big blind was weak, but the small blind could have frequently been going for a check-raise, mainly with a big draw like {j-}{10-}{9-}{x-} with spades or two-pair and a draw like {j-}{10-}{8-}{7-}. I decided to see a free turn and check.

Turn Action: The turn was an offsuit {4-}. The small blind bet pot, which was 15 big blinds. The big blind folded and Hastings called.

Here, I think calling was the only option that made sense. I guess there would be some value in raising to try to get him off a better one-pair hand, but I’d basically be representing one hand that was six-five if I raised. Plus, he may not even fold weak hands that still beat me. Also, he can call and bluff some rivers that I’d be hard-pressed to call like spades and possibly higher straights. I think it’s a simple call.

River Action: The river brought an offsuit {j-}. The small blind bet 40 big blinds into a pot of 45 big blinds. Hastings called.

Basically, I thought this bet was fishy. The jack was a huge scare card and yet he was still betting really big into me. It seemed to me that he would check if he had a big hand, whether it was a set, six-five, or even the nuts because he'd expect me to bet it quite often, given the way the hand played out. If I had something like two-pair, I likely would have put more action in on the flop or turn, and that would be the type of hand I’d be most likely to check behind.

So, I think that he would expect me to either make a hand on the end or to bluff if I had a missed draw, like my actual hand. I strongly felt that he would check his big hands. Now, I only had another 25 big blinds left on the river on top of his bet, and I was slightly worried that he could be bluffing with the best hand. If I was deeper, like 70 big blinds or more behind, I’d consider just shoving to fold out bluffs with a better hand. But, I think with only 25 big blinds more behind, that’s pretty suspect.

I really strongly felt like he just wasn’t leading out with his big hands, so I decided to call. He just mucked and I won the pot. I think this hand was super interesting, particularly on the river. It’s a good reminder to always analyze every decision thoroughly. A pair of nines might not be able to beat a random hand on the river, but I felt like in this situation, my opponent had a range of mostly bluffs. A few bluffs with the best hand, and maybe occasionally six-five or ten-nine, but I think he would more often check with those.

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