I like to practice my weakest games in the micro-stakes arena, which makes sense, but the downside is my opponents are usually also weak. While this may allow me to win more often I find I improve against players who require me to be disciplined. Split pot Omaha punishes decisions that would seem very acceptable in Holdem, and I’m glad to say I’m improving. Here’s an example, probably rudimentary to experienced players but if you’re new to the game then perhaps it will help. Pokerstars, five-handed .05-.10 PLO8. Cezariano2, a textbook loose player who likes to steal blinds, min-raises it. On the button I call and notrealy comes along from the small blind. I expect they both have reasonable but not stellar hands, I am seeking a flop with broadway cards or clubs. It comes 4s-5c-4c, giving me the second nut flush draw. Notrealy bets the pot and Cezariano2 insta-calls. It’s on me. Do I raise my draw, call the bet or fold?
In a Holdem hand I wouldn’t hesitate to raise. The fours don’t threaten me much, I have position and Cezariano2’s call is weak. I could flat call to control the pot size but a club on the turn might kill my action, the implied odds only come if my opponent has a weaker flush draw. Raising here let’s me represent the four and I may win it right now. But that’s Holdem. I’m not playing Holdem. To make a decision for Omaha8 we must consider some important information.
- What starting hands do my opponents likely have?
- Am I drawing to the nuts?
- Can I scoop this pot?
Answers: My opponents likely have starting hands that include an Ace and at least one low card. This means any low card that comes on the turn or river will probably make a qualifying low. If this happens I will only get half the pot, and that’s assuming I make my flush, AND that it’s good. Am I drawing to the nuts? Nope. Drawing to non-nut hands is playing with fire in Omaha. Because we’re short handed I consider a King-flush to be worth trying to hit. But as mentioned earlier my opponents likely hold at least an Ace, and if it’s the Ace of clubs (with another club) I could be drawing dead. Can I scoop the pot? No, or at least it’s unlikely. From the get-go this was a high hand only. I wanted broadway cards and I didn’t get them. The flush draw becomes even less appealing when we consider the low cards my opponents probably hold. If they have a four they can fill up. If they have 4-5 I’m already dead in the water. And this is a distinct possibility with these two players.
So in Holdem I raise, or perhaps call. (I hate just calling.) But in Omaha8? Fold and don’t lose any sleep over it. This can be tricky for Holdem players making the move over to Omaha, but it’s an essential skill. What did the turn bring?
My flush filled out, but with about the worst card in the deck. It completes most low draws and given my opponent’s likely holdings it makes full houses even more possible. The small blind checks to Cezar who makes this bet and I feel very good about my decision. Ultimately both players would get their money all in, Cezariano2 with the full house fours full of sixes (he had the Ace of clubs but no other club), and notrealy made his low with A-2. They ended up chopping the pot, Cezar for the high and notrealy with the low. And I walked away feeling like I may have some hope at this game after all.
Taking a look at my banking has revealed a bit more debt than I thought I had. Before things get out of hand I may have to take drastic action including a break from flying. It’s a depressing thought but if I go too far I could end up in serious financial trouble. Better to pause, get the situation under control and pick it up from there. The flying club has offered to finance my remaining lessons but I don’t want to take anymore credit. At least I can continue ground school.. Like my gym time, it’s already paid for. Focus on what you can do right?
There’s the smile!
The trip took a couple weeks, and my trainer was injured for a week after, so I simply did my best to keep what I’d gained. I got ill for a bit and slipped a little but I’m back in the saddle and my trainer is too. So here’s week three, albeit several weeks later. You can see my mood is good and I’ve made some gains, I’m up in weight quite a bit and according to my body analysis at the gym I’ve burned fat and added a good chunk of muscle mass. Didn’t realize I had any fat to burn! I’m particularly happy with the sharp lines on my shoulders down to my arms. And I can flex my pecs! Sweet.
It’s been a long time since I’ve written. Life has sucked. And I don’t write depressing shit because honestly, who wants to read that? But it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me… and I’m feeling good. I’ve deleted the negative entries from this blog, but I’ve left the cool poker stuff and flight training entries. Yes, I’m still learning to fly! I even took my solo in the fall, a lifetime moment I’ll never forget. I haven’t played cards in ages, and when I resumed last week it was actually an epic disaster. It’s cool. Just warming up. But most importantly I’ve been inspired by the amazing Michelle Allen to start weight training, eating better, and giving a nice big middle finger to my Crohn’s Disease. I don’t know how often I’ll post to this blog but at the very least I’ll be posting pictures of my progress. (You may notice some pictures pre-date this entry – I’m posting them today but dating them for accuracy.) The past has hurt. The present is challenging. But the future is going to kick ass.
Is that a six pack coming in?
Now we’re getting somewhere! That goatee looks great! Oh right, the bodybuilding. Yeh looking much more cut now. Jon’s happy. With a shirt on it’s hard to see still but I feel stronger, tighter and more positive. I have a trip next week so I have to do my best to work out when I’m able, I don’t want to lose any of my progress! My trainer Patrick and Michelle gave me some good training tips for the journey.
Good start Ashby, but smile dude!
After a week my energy levels have already increased quite a bit and sleep is improved. And I grew some facial hair. It looked pretty good after a few weeks but I shaved it.. I just like a smooth shave. You can already see more definition in my muscle.
And man am I eating more. Damn. Had to start shopping at Costco to afford it.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it..
Here’s me on the first day of my weight training. Good ol’ Skinny Jon. Bye bye Skinny Jon. Also, shave dude.
In Courchevel players are dealt five cards, and a single card is dealt face up before any betting. After the pre-flop betting two more cards are dealt, and play continues like normal Omaha. Each player must use two of his/her hole cards to make their best five-card poker hand. This screenshot (click it to enlarge) demonstrates the importance of having the nut (best) draw, as my Ace-Queen of clubs was in great shape to win when the money went in on the turn. (My main opponent was actually drawing completely dead, but the player on his left was also in the hand.)
Although my hand looks unbeatable, I was tense for a bit as a straight flush was possible – and these two were betting like they had it. Upon review I noticed the other player held the 9 of clubs in addition to his weak straight – it’s possible he misunderstood the rules and believed he had a straight flush draw. He would go on to lose the next pot worth over $152 against the player on his left. (Below.)
In the online poker world you see them everywhere. Maniacs. Raising, re-raising, bluffing at every pot.
We all know the preschool method of dealing with them, wait for a hand and punish them, and the real-world strategy, loosen your starting hand requirements and be ready to play back at them or at least call them down light.
But maniacs can be a real friend to your bankroll if the rest of the table isn’t adjusting to their lunacy. After a lot of raises from our table villain there is a tendency for the other players to get passive preflop. If you are across the table you will have a lot of dead money being donated by the less aggressive players as they flat call over and over. More often than not, they aren’t trapping, they’re begging to see a flop and hit the bully. This means two things. One, they don’t have spectacular hands, and two, a good I-mean-business raise is going to look hella strong!
Such a raise will isolate you against the bully (even if he three-bets), and if anyone else calls you’ll have a good idea where they’re at. Since you’ll be coming in with a reasonable holding you’ll almost always be ahead of your maniac’s range. Even if you miss you’ll be in a much better position to represent something big. Your maniac may still go off deep end if he spikes middle pair, but in this situation your chances are much improved and your reward will be an inflated pot at no extra cost to you. Who knows, you may even become the one player the maniac grows respect for.
But we won’t hold our breath on that one.
Just remember, maniac play can be contagious.. Don’t turn into one yourself.
Just around the bend. Just over this next hill. I remember saying that over and over on family road trips. Wherever we were headed, after a few hours I would be convinced that our destination was just around the bend. It was a kid’s way of expressing anticipation, even if it was just to get out and stretch my legs. Getting to my solo flight has felt much like this.
I’ve been flying circuits for over a month or two now, a very normal span of time for the instructor to get comfortable that you know what you’re doing. Since you go solo only when they feel you’re ready, it’s felt as though the flight after next was going to be the one – for sure this time, I would tell myself. Today however is the first time my instructor actually said that I would only need one more flight and then I’d be good to go. It kinda threw me for a loop. I’d been getting accustomed to the idea of my solo flight always being just a little further away that I wouldn’t have to feel nervous at all. But now it really is just two flights away. Yikes. That’s pretty much next week, my birthday at the latest.
I’m pretty confident right now, and I know that if I’m feeling jittery when the day comes I can request an additional dual-flight. But I know me, and I trust my instructor’s judgement, so I probably won’t ask. The training wheels have to come off eventually. I think everything I’m feeling to this point is normal, and a required part of becoming a pilot. One thing I do know for certain, when I land that plane it’s going to feel amazing.