Friday, October 06, 2006

Omahot Hand #9

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.


Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

Of course he called.. he also might not have the Flush.. although I like your reasoning and would say he probably does have it, another possible hand I might expect to see is 99..

11:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the way you played the hand. I would bet that flop each time with trips. Take it down while you can with an non nut hand and the redraws out there. I like the big bet on the end because most players will make the call with 3 of a kind.

Usually these hands always end with a call being made. I bet he called. Had trip jacks. No, not the drunk blogger (I kid). Seems most people think it would be good.

11:42 PM  
Blogger Rich said...

I'd ditto stb's trip J's... probably with an ace kicker. The only thing that might sway me from that would be the size of his stack (his large stack size possibly reflecting his Omaha ability). An identical J9 would not be out of the question though (along with a smaller boat). He may have checked the turn with trips to get a free stab at the boat like you did. He calls this bet.

- Cheapskate

12:34 AM  
Blogger Joanada said...

Quick question first - there are 1200 chips unaccounted for somewhere in between the flop and the river. Either he raised you an additional 600 on your flop bet and you called, or he (or you) made a 600 bet on the turn - either of which was called by the other player.

Because of that, the 1300 bet of his on the river was actually just under a 1/2-sized pot bet in this case.

(picky, picky, I know, I can't help it)

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.

12:49 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Joanne, it looks like you're right, there are 1200 chips unaccounted for. Unfortunately I don't know where those came in. Oh well. It's still fun to review the hand, no?

I will take a look at my records this evening and see if I can figure out where those chips came into play. I think it might have been during one of the color-ups ;)

2:49 AM  
Blogger Joanada said...

I agree, it is a great hand to review - the extra 1200 doesn't make or break it in anyway.

For the record, I would have played each street the same as you did.

Very curious as to what he had though.

5:35 AM  
Blogger Donnie (aka Shadowtwin) said...

I like the way you played it since you should have managed to scare off anyone drawing to a weak hand. Thus your read of a made flush is probably dead on. But the cards on the board being what they are, he also has to know that there is a strong possibility that you have made a boat. I think he calls you and he does indeed have the nut flush, but I think that is not his playable hand. For sure he has the Ace high flush, but I am thinking that he may also have made a boat with one of the other cards.

He calls you with a J-2 or 2-2 as his best hand (could be with a 6 also, but I had to go with one of them.).

1:45 AM  
Blogger Irongirl01 said...

I make the pot size bet on the end and he calls with the nut flush. You stick it too him. Well played.

He has to have more then just trips himself because a good Omaha player knows sets/trips and str8s usually arent going to win the hand on the end at a full table. Its a game of flushes and boats.

Nice finish.

4:31 AM  
Blogger AnguilA said...

Fishing for a flush in a paired board with that many people seeing the flop isn't exactly the best play in the book. I have to go along with the thoughts that he had a smaller boat and was hoping you made the nut flush when he checked the turn so that he could check raise you...

4:54 PM  

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