Monday, October 09, 2006

Omahot Hand #9 (Updated With Results)

*** UPDATED WITH RESULTS on Monday October 9 -- see bottom of this post. If you didn't read on Friday, then start here and work your way down to the bottom like you typically would (I assume). ***

That's right, folks. And I'm not talking about no pussy HORSE-having O8 either. I'm talking about straight-out Pot Limit Omaha High. And Nijle, this Hot Hand is for you. I know I technically said I would do a hilo hand for an upcoming Hot Hand post, but as I recall your real request was more for something other than holdem, so here it is. Last night I missed out on the 20k on full tilt as the Hammer Wife and I have been struggling lately to get both of the kids to bed in their new room together in time for me to hit the gym and still be back for a 10pm tournament, but I did manage to get in on my first-ever PLO tournament. This was on full tilt as well, and it went off at 10:30pm ET with 185 runners. I did not know what to expect as this would be my first PLO tournament ever, but I do know the game and have confidence in my knowledge of starting hands, pot odds, and reading other players, so I figured last night was as good a time as any.

Rather than review several hand details from the tournament, I'm going to focus on one hand that occurred around the middle of the PLO tournament last night for today's Hot Hand #9:

Blinds are 50-100, and my stack is at 5330 chips, probably right near the current average stack size with about 90 players remaining from the 185-person field who joined the event. I am dealt AQJ9 double-suited in the cutoff, and ahead of me there are three limps for 100 chips each, plus the button and the two blinds still to act.

Question #1: For you Omaha hi players out there, what is your move here? Do you just limp for 100 because there are so many people in the pot and you're hoping to nail the flop? Or do you like your hand to play for a cheap look at a flop independent of the likely at least five players to see this flop? Or, do you fold here because you are almost surely behind heading into the flop to one or more of these players already in the pot?

For me, this was a fairly quick decision. The 100 chips it costs me to see a flop is easily worth it out of my 5330 chip stack, especially given that my hand is actually decent. It's not great, don't get me wrong, but I am double suited, I do have three cards above a Ten, and I have some decent high straight possibilities going as well. Since Omaha is a game of the nuts, I have a lot of possibilities to make nut hands here, so this is a hand I would consider playing even if no one was in the pot yet when it got to me, but certainly for this cheap with this many players already in and such high implied odds, no doubt I'm seeing a flop here. I call:

With five players in to see it, the flop comes JJ6, with two hearts (not the suits I hold in my hand). So my nut flush draw is gone, and my straight draw possibilities are the longest of long shots at this point. But I have just flopped top trips on the flop, and with my preflop limp in the middle of all those other limpers, it's not like anyone can really put me on that hand. Four players check around to me in last position. The pot is 550 chips.

Question 2: What now? Do I bet out here with my top trips, assuming I am in the lead right now and want to get more money into the pot or chase everyone else out now before the likely draws hit to make my trips a second-best hand? Do I bet the full pot, or less to provide some deception? Or, do I take the deception thing a step further and check my top trips, and make my decision on the turn card instead?

In my experience, Omaha is not a game where I ever want to give free cards when I am ahead. With everyone holding four hole cards instead of two, the odds of at least one person (especially in a 5-way pot) holding the nut draw or some kind of draw that is on the board are much higher than in holdem with its two hole cards. In fact, I find (and this goes along with most of the book advice I have read on playing Omaha hi) that it is almost always correct to bet the full size of the pot when I believe I am ahead on the flop and I know there are potential draws out there that could beat me. My hand is quite strong -- I am not the stone nuts right now (anyone holding the last Jack and one of the three remaining 6's has me beat, as well as someone holding two of the three remaining 6's in their hand), but my AJ thus far is a favorite over any other made hand at this point. So I bet the pot, and hope to catch someone else holding a Jack, or two hearts, or maybe a high pair who is willing to give me some action:

Just the player to my immediate right calls. I put him on a heart draw of some kind. In Omaha I find most of the calls I get on the flop are from people with some kind of drawing hand. Here, that would have to be a heart, though of course I hope he has a Jack and a lower kicker than my Ace. I certainly don't put him on one of those two hands that is ahead of me now, or he should clearly be putting in a substantial (close to pot-sized) raise here. I say it's a heart draw.

And the turn card comes the 2♥. I am disgusted. I just put this guy on a heart draw, I made him pay the full size of the pot to chase, and he did just that. Now if I'm right, he has just made his flush on the turn. My opponent then checks it to me after the 2♥ falls.

Question 3: Bet here, or check it? If you bet, how much?

I was not about to give this guy what I thought he wanted by betting. He would of course check-raise me, and then I would have to fold. In the end, since I had just put him on the flush draw, and then he made his flush, and especially since I did have some outs to draw to a winning boat, I opted to go for the free card here and checked along with him. If I didn't have the 10 outs to the boat (or quads), I might consider putting in some kind of a bet here, and then just quickfolding to his reraise if he goes that route. But since me checking here not only avoids his likely reraise but also lets me draw at a 20% shot of making a boat that could beat his flush for a lot of chips, I made this decision to check right quick.

And the river comes...the 9 of diamonds. A stunningly beautiful card for me, in that it makes me my delicious boat with the J9 from my hand and the JJ9 from the board. I have the mortal nuts here, and what's better, my opponent leads out for around the full pot size on the river:

Question 4: What's the play here? I can call and win the chips in the pot now. Or I can put in a modest raise, looking for a call but not wanting to scare this guy away. Or, of course, I can raise him big and hope he calls that larger bet. What's the best way to play this here to maximize my chip stack?

This is basically exactly the type of situation I'm looking for when I sit down to play me some Omaha. Mortal nuts on the river, and someone bets the pot to me. I don't see how I could possibly just call here. I have the mortal nuts. I can't be beat. So I have to put in some kind of a raise here. The question is, do I go for a minraise or something similar to that, and try to suck in a few more chips from my opponent, or do I push harder and try to get him to make a big mistake?

In this case, I felt the decision was basically made for me by the way this hand played out, and my read on the player involved. As I've mentioned above, I put this guy on a flush draw when he called my pot-sized bet on the flop. Then he checked it to me on the turn when the third heart hit, and I checked it back because I still had him on the flush (people will check a straigh or flush on the turn in Omaha all the time online). Then his potbet when a rag fell on the river iced it for me -- this guy in fact made his flush on the turn, tried to trap me on the turn but I didn't bite, and now he is moving in hard for the kill because he is pissed that he missed an entire betting round on the turn -- a move which doubly hurts him because now his pot-sized bet on the river is much smaller than it could otherwise be -- and now he is trying to make up for his mistake. I would expect him to be afraid I might have the flush if he did not, and his betting pattern from flop to river here just reeks of the guy who was on a draw, hit his draw, and now is sure he's got the best hand.

I reason that this guy is also more likely to call a big bet from me for two other important reasons: First, he checked the turn. He thinks he is clever, and he thinks that his turn check will have gotten me thinking that he didn't make his heart flush. That could lead me to be all kinds of hands on the river here, from one or two pairs, to trips or something else. So, because he slow-played what I think was a made flush on the turn, my opponent will now be far more likely to call my raise on the river because he thinks he has deceived me with respect to what I think he is holding, so my range of hands to raise with on the river is much wider than it might otherwise be.

Secondly, another reason I favor the big bet here is that, if this guy is any kind of a real Omaha player, he would not be betting hard at the pot, or even calling a pot-sized bet on the flop, without a nut hand. Given that he called my potbet on the flop, and then bet the pot himself here on the river, there is a reasonable chance if this guy is a good Omaha player that he is holding the Ace of hearts and another heart, and now has the nut flush. This is not at all the case in holdem, where people draw to all kinds of flushes that are not necessarily the nuts. In Omaha, consistently paying off pot-sized bets on the flop to draw to 6-high flush draws is bad strategy. You want to have the nut draw or very close to it if you play optimal Omaha, since the game is so nuts-based. Here, if this guy knows what he is doing and if I have read him correctly, my opponent has an Ace-high flush, or maybe King-high at worst. If that is the case, then it is going to be very hard for him to lay this down to any bet from me. He will know that only a boat or quads can beat his nut flush, and most players in his situation will be hard pressed to lay down given the action in this hand so far, even given the pair on the board.

With all these considerations in mind, I decided to go for the jugular and push it all in:

Take your guesses -- did he call? What do you think he is holding here?

Btw, I ended up cashing in my first-ever PLO tournament, coming in 13th place out of the 185 players, busting out when I got allin preflop from a short stack with my KKxx, and getting called by a player holding AAxx who held on for the win:

I will post the conclusion to Hot Hand #9 shortly but want to give people a chance to comment first.

********** UPDATED with results Monday 10-9 **********

Thanks again to everyone with their thoughtful comments. I really enjoy getting all the different perspectives, mostly because almost every one of the posts, more than one person whose poker opinions I respect will say something that either I didn't think of, or that I flat disagree with. To me, it's fun analyzing this stuff, at least as fun as it is playing it out the first time.

First off, let me start by saying that yes, he did call. Seems like everyone pretty much guessed that I would not have posted this hand if he had not called on the hand, and you may be right. Normally I will always want to keep you guessing so no one has any edge as to what might have happened in a given hand, but I will admit this hand would not have been quite as cool if he had not called my big bet on the end. So nice anticipation everyone, you got in my head there, way to go.

So what did he call me with? Again it seems like the majority of the commenters believe he had at least a flush, with most guessing the nut flush even, and a good half of the posters predicting that he has another boat. That part interests me most. That is where again I tend to assume that people are kind of "on the lookout" for this kind of big hand vs big hand situations in these Hot Hand posts, and more likely to assume I am up against another boat than a "mere" flush or even nut flush. I'm not so much asking in these things what you think my opponent was holding given that I've posted it as a Hot Hand post. I am more wanting to know, to the extent you are able to work with such a hypothetical, is what would you have done and thought he had if you had been the one playing the hand live. And for that, I guess I have a little bit of trouble understanding how so many people can put this guy on another boat here.

Let's review what his actions were in the hand. First, he just limped from middle position for 100 chips out of a large stack. That doesn't tell us much, other than that he probably doesn't have pocket Aces or Kings, no four high straight double-suited cards situations, etc. But given the nature of Omaha, an MP limp does not actually tell us much about his hand either way, other than probably it's not a monster.

Then, on the JJ6 flop, three players checked to him, and he checked it right along. Yes it's always easy to claim now that he might be slow-playing, but to be real, so far as I was sitting there in live action, he has limped from MP with 4 others already in the pot, and then he has checked a thrice-checked flop around to me in last position on the flop. Then, when I bet the pot on the flop from last (stealy) position, he only called my preflop raise. On this flop, with several draws available but nothing able to have hit yet given the pair and the only 2 suited cards on the flop, and with my move looking stealy from a purely positional perspective, most good players with an actual strong hand there would have to have been tempted to raise the pot right there and try to blow me out of the hand before I cracked whatever made hand he was holding. But he just check-called my potbet on the flop. Again, I think it is fairly easy to say when you see this as a Hot Hand post that the guy was slow-playing, but I am hoping some of the commenters will respond here to tell me what specifically about this hand leads you to believe he's holding a monster.

Even once the river card is out, and I've just made the mortal nuts with top boat, my opponent finally makes his first lead bet of the entire pot. But even then it's only for less than half the pot. Again, for me I just could not put him on a boat here. Obviously in the end I had the stone nuts and could not be beaten regardless of what he was holding, but I will be honest and say for the record that, in playing this hand out, I never, ever put him on a boat for even one second. The thought barely crossed my mind. I gave some thought that he could be drawing to a boat, but on a made boat, never. I just didn't feel like he played it like someone who was strong. To me as I mentioned in the original post, this guy played the hand more or less exactly like someone who was drawing to a flush and then made his flush on the turn.

I figured on the river that, if this guy is any kind of a serious Omaha player, I was not going to make any money from him unless he held the nut flush. That is, if he was holding a low flush, then he would have to call a big raise on the river for a significant portion of his stack, knowing that the nut flush beats him, as well as any boat to someone holding one of the two remaining Jacks and either a 6, a 2 or a 9 among their four hole cards. And this is the key point for this hand to me: since I did not believe that this guy would call any appropriately-sized raise from me unless he had the nut flush, that is exactly why I moved it allin instead of a smaller, more "suck bet" type of move to try to get whatever I could from him while I'm holding the absolute nuts. I figured, if he has the smaller flush, or just trips, etc., then he's going to fold to any raise I can make here (if he knows what he's doing). So I'm only going to get paid off by another boat, or probably the nut flush. And, I figured, if he has either of those two hands, he is likely to call an allin raise from me. With another boat, he will surely assume I am probably on the nut flush and he will make the call with his winning boat. And with the nut flush, while Doyle or Chip might very well fold to an allin raise with the pair on the board, this guy across the table from me is most likely not. Maybe if the board pair was Aces and the second one came on the river. But not the way this hand has played out, with the two Jacks on the flop. He could lay that down, but I don't expect that he will. Any other flush, yes. But not the nut flush.

So again, that was the main play I wanted to illustrate with this hand. When I think my opponent will only call me if they have a very strong hand (and will fold to any raise with mildly strong but not huge hands), but I happen to have the mortal nuts, that is the time for me to move it all in. Anything less and he won't call it anyways without a very strong hand, and he will call my allin with any of those strong hands. So, in that situation, any bet from me that is less than allin is purely wasteful for me in that I would have won all the chips I bet, or he would have just folded to my bet. I don't believe there is any hand that he would have just called a smaller raise with but would have folded to the larger raise. So I have got to get in all in this situation, every time. The key lies in detecting when I am in this situation, and then I can execute this move effectively.

Here's the final screen shot on the hand btw:

He flopped trips and the nut flush draw, and this is why he check-called on the flop (to try to draw cheap to the nut flush or a boat). I think the presence of the board pair against his made flush is also why he bet just under half the pot on the end. But that was a weak move that I would not generally advise making in pot-limit games. For the most part, unless you're trying the weak lead move with a drawing or middling hand, pot-limit games are set up for the real players to be making pot-sized bets more often than not once the flop is out. Half-pot bets with one's vulnerable hands are very easily readable by the good players out there, and when you can be easily read in big pots, you can be easily exploited in those big pots.

Before I forget, don't forget tonight is Mondays at the Hoy!

I will be there and ready to win my second Hoy in three weeks. Join in while our esteemed President has not yet signed the anti-gaming bill into law. This will almost certainly be the last MATH tournament before that hallowed event happens. And be men (and women) and come join me in 2-tabling the full tilt 20k tonight at 10pm ET as well.


Blogger Joanada said...

So since I guessed:

I put him on A of hearts, J of clubs, X of hearts, and X of x. I think he had the made flush on the turn, but was also drawing to a boat, just like you.

Does that mean I win a prize? ;)

10:44 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

What Joanne, and you didn't know what his fourth card was at all? What kind of a read is that? ;)

Nice read. We should play one of these things together sometime.

11:46 PM  
Blogger Joanada said...

Yeah I realize I kinda dropped the ball on that "X of x" guess. I'll strive to do better next time ;)

Name the time and place. I'm there.

12:41 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Nijle, I have been aware that some people have been "cheating" and looking at the results posts ahead of time. I went so far as to insert a tracker onto the results page of the last Hot Hand post, and it turns out that double-digit people went and visited that page ahead of time. Lame, but I guess not too surprising. And to be clear, I don't think it's lame at all to look ahead and try to find the result. I would do that and I think that is just being smart and normal. But then posting "guesses" after having seen the shiat already, that is just downright lame. Oh well. For future posts like this -- including one coming later today or tomorrow -- the results screenshot will not be uploaded until I'm ready for them to be seen.

1:39 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Poor Tom, I agree 100% that my opponent played this hand poorly. I too fail to understand how he could not bet on the turn. His failure to push hard on either the flop or the turn is the only reason he lost the hand. I would not necessarily have stayed in for a right-sized raise on the turn once that third heart fell.

People slow play too much in poker, especially the noobs you tend to run into online. And this is true across all the poker variations, not just holdem.

Thanks for the comment.

4:26 AM  
Blogger Donnie (aka Shadowtwin) said...

I am really surprised that he wasn't also holding a boat. That isn't because this happens to be a hot hand post either, it has to do with his betting -specifically, his lack of it. His lack of a bet on the flop means nothing at all, but his call of your bet does -at least to me. Like you know, damn near everyone will check the flop when it hits them hard. With so many people in this one, I would think that anyone who flopped a hand would bet to chase of the drawers (like you did), since he didn't bet, but did call your bet, it made me think that he wanted everyone to get a free card to try to improve their hand. For him to be making a move like that, he has to have a hand that he is pretty damn sure can't be beat.

His bet on the river made me think similarly. That small bet screams weakness, which is the type of bet that you generally make when you are trying to get your opponent to push into you. I can hardly believe that he played the hand the way he did with only the flush.

So essentially, his playing his hand so weak suckered me into thinking that he was playing a monster. How he called that bet on the river is a mystery. The only explanation is that he has you on trip jacks and an ace, but you would have to be all sorts of stupid to push with that hand in that situation.

Also, I did peek at the results of the hand, but only after I had guessed what he was holding (which I was wrong on, for the aforementioned reasons). This post being on the weekend, I just couldn't take the suspense of having to wait three days to find out what he was holding...How sad is that?

9:15 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It sounds like a busy life. Even though you are doing great to fit with your poker career and your family. Most of the people at pay pay per head service are struggle to do it.

12:29 PM  

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