16/10/2008

A Lesson in Omaha #4

Carl Sampson 'The Dean'

I remember years ago when I used to play in dealers choice cash games and private games, six card PLO was often played. For anyone who has never played the six card version then if you thought that conventional four card PLO was a “nuts” game then you haven’t seen nothing compared to the six card version.

Whatever the nuts is tends to be out there and especially because of the large number of hand combinations that are present in each hand. This means that few hands get ditched pre-flop and large multi-way pots are the norm. However this can tend to kill a lot of action when it becomes clear what the nuts actually is and whether it can be overtaken or not.

The scope for bluffing in this form of poker is limited but yet this is a thought process that I see quite frequently in short handed conventional four card PLO. At this time, there is still a lot of uncertainty and inexperience present in the online PLO games at the lower levels and many players are playing too tightly.

You will get many opportunities to bluff in six max PLO and especially in heads up situations. The reason behind this I suspect is that there are still large numbers of players at the lower limits who instinctively realise that they could easily be up against the nuts or close to it.

These thought processes of some of your opponents can allow you to take many small pots on the flop by carefully timed aggression. Let us say that a solid but not overly sophisticated player has raised from under the gun and you suspect that they have a big pair either suited or unsuited.

The game is $2-$4 PLO and your opponent has made a pot sized raise to $14 and you are sitting in the big blind and it has been folded to you. In your hand you see the 8s-7h-6s-4d which is a pretty decent run down hand. Both you and your opponent are sitting on $400 stacks.

Now if I were playing this hand, despite the fact that I am out of position, I don’t want to fold against a single opponent and I certainly want to play it. Raising is out of the question as the likelihood of a re-raise is just too great and my opponent would be happy to get a large part of their stack in the middle pre-flop as it makes big pairs easier to play post flop.

So I call the $10 safe in the knowledge that if I allow this pot to escalate after the flop then I will be sitting there with the best hand. But I also have opportunities on the flop as well and let us say that the flop comes 10s-3d-2c giving me nothing but a gutshot straight draw. This is precisely the type of opportunity where I could look to make a move here.

What I basically need to know is if this opponent has a tight rocky post flop mentality in PLO. Remember that they may not be a PLO regular and they may not necessarily have all that much experience at this form of poker. I tend not to play against very strong players at PLO although even at $2-$4 and even $1-$2, you can still encounter some very skilled and sophisticated players.

In fact our very own Joe Beevers constantly frequents the $1-$2 games on Full Tilt and I don’t think that he needs me to remind him that his PLO game is up there with the very best (post that twenty quid first class Joe if you don’t mind). But on a flop like this then a check raise is going to scare the living daylights out of a big pair and especially one who started with a $400 stack.

I check and they make a pot sized bet on the flop to $30. Now there is a total of $46 in potential profit sitting out there waiting to be picked up and I want that money. Against the right type of opponent then I don’t even need to make a pot sized check raise here for it to work.

But my image needs to be correct and I don’t want people to see me as the table bully or anything like that. I like to keep a check on who is on my table, how long they have been on my table and what they have seen of me. I don’t want to raise to $120 here as I feel that a lesser raise not only gives me a better price but it also can easily be interpreted as a raise that wants action.

Of course with four outs to a gutshot then this check raise could easily be classed as a semi-bluff rather than an outright bluff. But a raise to something like $90 here would look very scary to a tight player with aces who still had $356 sitting there and looking at two outs to improve if they are facing a set.

Now I am not saying that you should call raises with all sorts out of position just so that you can put a play on someone. You shouldn’t be playing that many hands out of position at PLO anyway. But in this example, my call closed the betting with a decent hand in a heads up situation against a player who I felt could be moved from many pots post flop.

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