February 25

Drawing weak in Omaha8 – don’t do it!

Like so many players, when I started out playing Omaha and Omaha8 I was enamored with all the draws I would flop, seemingly on every hand with any cards. And like most players, over time I learned most of those draws are actually crap. These days when I’m killing time at the nickel tables I do rather enjoy paying those lessons forward to the new kids. Consider the following hand.

I’m at a very loose table of poor Omaha8 players. It’s a limit game so whenever my psychotic fishies draw out it doesn’t cost much, and when I win I punish them. I make a gambling raise holding 4d Qd Qh Ah in the big blind. It’s not a powerhouse but against the range of my opponents I feel it’s worth a bet. I’m looking for high cards to scoop the pot. Richard00025 and Dzsenga come along for the ride, a surprisingly low number of callers for this game.

The flop brings 5c 9d 3d, giving me a marginal flush draw and my overpair. There are low draws out there but right now I think I’m fine, so I bet right out. Richard00025 calls, and Dzsenga folds. The turn brings the Kd. I’m not a huge fan of the second nuts in Omaha but against this table I’m not too worried. I don’t want to see a low card on the end so I bet again, and Richard calls. At this point I’m putting him on the nut low draw. I’m pretty sure I have to high half locked up.

The river is the 3c, pairing the board. I’m not very happy about it, but neither am I particularly concerned. If he had flopped two pair I would expected a bit more aggression. Richard00025 has been passive this entire hand. Whatever he has, it was a draw, and the 3c is probably a good card for me since it negates any low possibilities. If he backed into a full house with some garbage then it’s his lucky day. I decide to bet out for value. Surprisingly Richard just calls. He shows 2d 4c 6d Kh for a bad flush. Looking back at the hand his play makes sense, at least for a beginner – and only on the flop.

omaha8draw

Despite starting with a garbage hand Richard00025 did flop a small wrap to a low straight, and has a weak flush draw to go with it. His call on my flop bet is sensible. But where he goes wrong is the turn. The flush comes in, and this negates all his straight draws for the high hand if I’m holding two diamonds. He’s hoping I’m not, he’s hoping that I’m just barrelling with a couple of unrelated Aces and his junky flush is good. (My play up to this point would suggest otherwise but he’s not paying attention to that.) Still, he might hit a low and get half right? Not really. We now see his low draw is only the nuts if an Ace comes. If he does put me on Aces, or even a single Ace with a low card, then not only is hitting his draw very unlikely, it’s also probable that most lows won’t be good if he hits it. As it happens I make the nut low with a duece. The only hand I’m worried about is Ad-2x with any other diamond. But he would bet and raise that hand. He’s gambling with bad odds to win only half, hoping his flush is good.

The river pairs and I no longer have to worry about A-2. Richard has already decided to call with his weak flush and pray. Needless to say this is not a good strategy in Omaha. His better line would be to raise the river. He has a flush that might be good but he can also represent that the 3c hit him and he made a full house with 5-3 in his hand. I also could have such a hand but betting is his only realistic way to win this hand; it would have been worth a shot. At this table I’m the only player this may have worked against. But he knows this table is full of calling stations and incorrectly assumes I’m one of them so he takes the cautious approach. Suits me – I scoop the pot.

 

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January 28

Omaha8 basic draw decisions.

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?

omaha8quiz

 

 

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.

  1. What starting hands do my opponents likely have?
  2. Am I drawing to the nuts?
  3. 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?

omaha8-fold2

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.

 

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February 12

Financial stress.

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?

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February 8

Week Three

There's the smile!

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.

February 8

It’s a new dawn..

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.

January 20

Week Two

Is that a six pack coming in?

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.

January 12

Week One

Good start Ashby, but smile dude!

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.

January 5

Week Zero

Your mission, should you choose to accept 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.

 

June 30

Cashing in on new players..

courchevel

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.)

courchevelinsanepot

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June 26

How to use maniacs.

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.

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