Talking Omaha Poker - Case Study Three
Tony is a regular on-line and card room player living in England. He mostly plays Texas Hold'em and Omaha (High and Hi/Lo) at fixed, pot and no limit, at both cash and tournament tables.
A little bit of Hi/Lo
After my dabble on a short-handed Omaha High table last time out, where I took a decent margin in profit, I am now recording the hands of a 10-handed Omaha Hi/Lo game, pot limit, $0.5/$1 blinds. I am on a 10-handed table as no action was available at a short-handed table at the time I sat down.
At Omaha Hi/Lo, there's always a lot of action from players with average hands so it is paramount to choose your starting hands carefully to avoid getting embroiled in expensive pots where you are not well placed to win a scooped pot. So, with that in mind, I press on.
Shuffle up and deal
The game starts with 8 players sat down and the majority have a lot less than $100 in front of them. That should help me.
Hand 1; Sitting down big blind; Ad Qs 6h 5h
Not wonderful but an ace is always welcome in a Hi/Lo hand. I check my blind. Flat called by many and then mysteriously raised by a single dollar by the small blind. We all limp for $2 total. The flop is Jd 9s 2h which is not good. Checked all round for a 3c turn card. I have a low draw only. Someone bets $3 and I fold as they may well be drawing with A4 and I do not have a high hand.
Hand 2; Under the gun; As Tc 5c 2s
This contains a bog-standard A2 combo but the T and 5 are not exciting. The A2 is also a nut spade flush draw and the AT a nut straight draw (assuming a KQJ board). I decide to limp in and see what everyone else does. Flop Qh 7d Jh which offers a gut straight draw but little else. A $2 bet is enough for me to fold.
Hand 3; Big blind; Jc 9s 9h 4s
A very poor Omaha hand whatever the game. It is flat-called by five players so I check. Flop is 6h 3c Ad. That's half the pot lost already as it shows all low cards and I only have the one. I fold.
Hand 4; Small blind; Kc Qc Jd 3c
Some high hand promise but there is a pot bet of $5.50 and a call of that amount before the betting gets to me so I decide to wait for a better spot. Fold. A good job too, as a further call comes in followed by a pot re-raise of $29 and two more callers of that bet! Wow, this is a big pot developing, although one stack is already all-in. The flop came down 8d 7d 3d and the other low stack went all-in. The original raiser showed AA24, a lovely hand with an ace flush in diamonds. It was a flop made in heaven. The other two showed A2xx and shared one-sixth of the pot apiece. This is a salutary lesson to all players who throw in the kitchen sink with the nut low and no high. You just won't make consistent profits chasing half a pot when the pot odds are so awful - as they usually are when you call a pot-sized re-raise like the two players in the above hand.
Hand 5; Button; As Ks Jd 9c
This is a handsome hand in Omaha High and would be in this game too if we flop some high cards. Scooping the pot is the name of this game. There is a minimum raise to $2 ahead of me so I decide to re-raise to $5 to narrow the field. In fact, it is possibly too effective because just two callers stay with me and both are low on chips, having less than $10 each. The flop is a nondescript affair, 9h 5h 5s. Both check into me so I bet $10 inviting them all-in. One calls and the other folds. The turn and river are Q and T. It makes me a straight and misses my opponent's nut heart flush draw. With that, I move up to $116.
Hand 6; Cut-off; Qd 7d 7s 5h. This is a non-entity of a hand in Hi/Lo so I fold.
Hand 7; Qh 9h 6h 2h. All the hearts but not much cheer. Fold.
Hand 8; Ks Js 2d 2c. Fold again. This game can be slow!
Hand 9; Ts 9c 6c 4d. Fold.
Hand 10; Th 4c 4s 2s. Fold.
Hand 11; Under the gun; Ad Tc 7c 3d.
Although there is an A3 in this, it is only the third nut low draw and it is accompanied by rags offering little upside for the high hand. I cannot justify a bet in early position. A pot bet did follow my fold and I would not have been able to call it other than in blind hope of a miracle flop.
Hand 12; Big blind; Ad Qh Jd 7h.
This is double suited with high potential but no more than an emergency back up on the low side (A7). I'd like to see the flop cheaply and this I do as four players flat call into my big blind. The flop is 2s 3s Ah which is not the best for me. It gives me top pair, Q kicker, and a backdoor flush draw but not much hope of the low pot and there are sure to be interested parties with the low already made. I fold to a $3 bet.
Hand 13; Small blind; Ac 9d 5s 2s.
Here is a classic A2 hand with rags. There is a pot bet in late position so, out of position, I fold this hand here and now. The most I could hope for is a half pot and that might easily be split, leaving me "quartered" or worse, and likely out of pocket on the hand.
Hand 14; Button; Ac Kc 4c 2s.
For the second "Button" running, I am dealt an eminently playable hand. Four flat callers before me so I raise to $5. The blinds folded but an early position player has re-raised me the pot. All fold to me and I decide it is worth seeing a flop here rather than committing my chips because this player is similarly stacked, with over $100. His bet suggests he might have AA2x or AA3x. The flop comes down 3c Jc 9d. It doesn't offer much to low hands but gives me a nut flush draw. In response, the opponent has bet the pot again, which is a fair chunk of our remaining stacks. At this stage, with a chance of scooping the pot, I feel I must make a stand before allowing my opponent the luxury of seeing if the turn will help him. I re-raise the pot which is effectively asking my opponent to call his remaining $49. He does so!
I am now hoping for a club although it is feasible my AK might catch a card, or two low cards help me split the pot. They come 4 and 8, neither a club so I might split the pot or, worse, quarter it.
Hallelujah! The guy shows Tc 6s 5s 2d. His hand never had a hope and he pot raised the flop presumably as a bluff move. But why call the re-raise? Perhaps he could argue that he was now pot-committed on the odds given the size of the pot. Reckless I call it but I cannot complain as my stack is up to $228, over 100% up in 14 hands.
A flat finish
The intention with this piece was to continue on next week with the further hands I played, and the thought processes concerned. However, the hands were as dry as a bone and I folded almost everything. I finally completed the session on $208. Still a healthy profit but it all went a bit flat in the end.
Overall, what this session demonstrated is that day-to-day poker can be interminable at times, with bad cards following bad cards. Patience is a virtue and a necessity. Many of the hands I folded would be played by half the players at my table but I don't think they would profit on average by doing so. It also shows that the bulk of a session's profits often accrue from one key hand. The corollary of this is that the bulk of losses can also be made from one hand which is reason enough to avoid making stupid moves. That doesn't mean you cannot take risks in pursuit of a pot, as I showed above, but it has to be a considered judgement. Sometimes they go against you but often they won't, if you have lined up the odds in your favour.