Intro to Omaha Poker - Pot Limit - Post-Flop Decisions
Tony is a regular on-line and card room poker player living in England. He mostly plays Texas Hold'em and Omaha (High and Split) at fixed, pot and no limit, at both cash and tournament tables.
Last week, I looked at some of the decisions faced before the flop when playing pot limit Omaha poker and contrasted them with limit Omaha. This time, I want to consider the moment when the flop comes down in pot limit Omaha and how it affects your thinking at that point. Does it change your attitude to your hand or are you the stubborn type that relies on the strength of your hole cards?
Pot limit Omaha is as much a game of heart, of having the courage of your convictions, as it is of knowing what cards not to play. It also requires discipline about when to give up a hand. Sometimes you will have liked your pre-flop cards very much and worked up a nice pot with three or more players for company. Mentally, you may have adjusted your mind towards picking up a large pot but that is a dangerous state of mind unless you are a super-aggressive player with a dominating stack who is happy to bet out and pot-raise, daring any of the smaller stacks to challenge you.
The flop can produce many danger signs and you need to be able to recognise the obvious ones and adjust your thinking and subsequent betting approaches. The following are some examples:
You are dealt As Ad Ks Qd
This is a top-notch premium double-suited pair of aces with multiple opportunities for nut hands. You raise pre-flop and get four callers. The following types of flop should set you thinking:
i Qs 5s 5h
ii Jd Ts Tc
iii 8d 7s 6c
In example (i), you have made 2-pair Aces Up with the 5's on the flop. You have also picked up a nut flush draw. The 2-pair by itself is of dubious value but the nut flush can be made by any one of nine cards out of the 45 not visible to you. This has a 36% chance of being made by either the turn or river card and ordinarily you are probably receiving good value in a multi-way pot. However, if the betting proceeds with pot raises after the flop causing some others to fold, you will have to re-assess this.
However, on the flop in question, Q 5 5, the classic danger sign to flushes is present - a pair on the board. You have four other players holding no less than 16 cards between them, that is over 35% of the cards you cannot see. There are two 5's in that set of 45 unseen cards. Statistically, it is about a 60% chance that one of the players is holding one of the 5's. That makes you an immediate dog as currently you cannot beat a set. You also do not know for sure whether the player also has a Q for a full house but it is unlikely (as you have a Q too) as is the chance he holds both 5's for quads. There is however a 12% chance of two of the four players each holding a 5, increasing the possibility of one of them completing a full house by the river card. You should therefore consider making your betting decisions assuming a minimum of a set of 5's is present.
The question is then to determine how the others bet or, if you are first to go, whether you should put out a pot bet to try to take the pot there and then. Position is a distinct advantage since you can leave the hand cheaply if one or more bet strongly ahead of you. If you are first to go or it has been checked to you, and you bet the pot, you are likely to receive an answer to your questions. Betting the pot first may seem foolhardy but, as you were the initial aggressor pre-flop, it is not out of the question for you to hold the QQ that you are representing with the bet. Someone faced with a bet of this size is entitled to fear the made full house especially if all they hold is a bare 5 for a weak set. Folds all round are good. Calls only would suggest no made full house but re-raises would flash red for danger. The more players stay in with a pair on the board, the more likely it is a full house will be the winning hand. A made flush is no use to you against a full house so you might as well take the sensible route and wait for a better opportunity.
In example (ii), with a flop of J T T, you have a similar problem but now have 12 cards from the 45 that will make you the nut straight. There is no flush draw yet. That is a good drawing hand but still leaves you exposed to the possible full house, this time the T's being the culprit. Again, post-flop, you might try to take the hand with a pot bet or adopt a similar policy as for Q 5 5 above.
In example (iii), you have missed you cards totally meaning that you need runner cards on the turn and river, unless your AA stands up. At least this time there is no pair on board. The problem with a flop like 987 is that it probably hands a large number of straight draws to your opponents, if it hasn't already made them a straight. After all, if someone has called your raise pre-flop with a co-ordinated hand like JT87 or 7765, they will be in business. You are likely to face a big bet on the flop and you will probably be advised to ditch the hand regardless of the aces because you have no flush draw either.
You are dealt Td 9d 8c 7c
This time you have a premium co-ordinated hand that can make a straight in any number of ways using about half of the deck. It is also double-suited for back-up. You confidently bet such a hand up pre-flop and see the flop with four others and a sizeable pot.
The following types of flop should again set you thinking:
i As 6s 5h
ii Jd Ts 8h
iii 6c 5h 5d
In example (i), your straight potential is heightened giving you 13 outs for the nut straight. However, this needs to be tempered by the two spades on board which flags up possible flushes for your opponents. One of them could have nine outs to a flush assuming no-one else holds a spade. Furthermore, four of your 13 outs for the straight are spades too. That effectively narrows down your outs to nine safe ones.
In order to reduce your opponents' pot odds on drawing to a flush, you should probably pot raise at this point. Remember also that even if you have someone drawing to a flush, unless they hold the Ks, they will fear a larger flush than their own. A pot raise will cast doubt in opponents' minds. A pot raise may also discourage someone holding a set with 66 or 55 in their hand. You can probably discount AA unless you were re-raised pre-flop.
If you receive callers, you are probably waiting on the turn card to see whether it pairs or is a spade. If you are re-raised on the flop, you will have a tricky decision. It is likely someone has a made set. You are then in the realms of an all-in shoot-out scenario if you re-raise. The odds are probably about even of you completing a straight while avoiding a flush or full house.
In example (ii), the danger is that your made straight will not be the nuts. Any player holding Q9 has a bigger one already. Someone holding cards like KQT8 or KJ98 will be holding out for a bigger straight or the full house. Your betting needs to be restrained here because you will only get a call from someone who can likely beat you or has a good chance of completing a higher straight or perhaps a full house. Be ready to fold this if the betting is strong.
In example (iii), the position is similar to example (i) as regards your straight draws but it is the full house you must fear this time, and that could already have been made. Once again, an early pot bet may be the best move to attempt to take the pot right there or to identify where your opponents' strengths lie.
The above scenarios and suggestions are not the contents of a menu of "things you must do" when seeing particular types of flop. They are intended as a guide to how your very strong pre-flop hand may have lost a lot of value relative to your opponents after the flop has come down. You will then be left with a decision. Do you represent the strongest hand possible on a specific flop and pot raise your opponents off their probable draws, or do you make small bets or check and wait for your opponents to give you information? The answer is entirely down to how you view the players at your table. If there are maniacs or aggressive players present, you may be wise to check raise them if you have a strong hand. If they are generally tight, you might want to bet out first.
As in all games, part of the decision is based on the table and its players. As before, get down to the micro tables and try a few things out cheaply.
20 July 2005
Ed note: Party Poker have multiple tables available at every limit, 24 hours a day.