Friday, March 23, 2007

A Hand Not to Sneeze At

A Hand Not to Sneeze AtAm currently locked in a desperate struggle versus some sort of tree pollen allergy-type invasion above the neck here. Was doing fine on Tuesday, then went for a long walk in the early evening with Vera and now feel like my head weighs a hundred pounds. Endless coughing, sore throat, lungs aflame, fever, runny nose, sneezing, you name it. Keeping the hot soup and Sudafed coming. Not sure, exactly, how large doses of pseudoephedrine have affected my decision-making at the tables, but things are still running well.

Have been continuing with my Omaha adventure. For the last two weeks I have essentially only played pot limit Omaha, either $0.10/$0.25 (with a maximum $25 buy-in) or $0.25/$0.50 ($50 max. buy-in). Differences between the two levels don’t seem as significant as do different levels of fixed limit hold ’em. Nor does being at a 6-max table or full ring seem as important a difference as in limit HE.

As I said, still running well here. I’m logging many more winning sessions than losing ones, with some of the wins being significantly large. I wrote before about some of the reasons why I think I might be winning. I’ve also been perusing advice about starting hands (such as this from Lou Krieger) as well as lurking on the forums a bit to get a better idea of the world of Omaha.

Those of you are interested might go check out a recent podcast on Poker Podcast World in which Max Shapiro interviewed Robert “Chip Burner” Turner, the man credited with introducing the game of Omaha in Vegas in the early 1980s. Turner is an accomplished tournament player, having one WSOP bracelet in seven-card stud, numerous high finishes and cashes in the WSOP main event, as well as other tourney victories under his belt. Others were involved in the creation of Omaha, too. Here’s an interesting discussion the first part of which relates a lot of the particulars regarding how Omaha came to be.

While I’m mostly keeping out of trouble by not calling down with King-high flushes, bottom sets, or the like, I have run into difficulty with one particular scenario that seems to keep cropping up -- flopping high trips. For example, I’ll have an ace (and no four) and the flop will come AA4, then after the flop betting round is complete I’m left with one other player. Little chance that other player does not also hold an ace, correct? (Or fours, perhaps.) Then I’ll get to the river without improvement -- I won’t make a boat, or if I do it may not be the best boat -- though still will have a hard time letting my trips go. My basic strategy here has been to try to keep the pot small unless I hit the unambiguous nuts, but that’s easier said than done sometimes (especially when out of position). Unless I get lucky, I’ll often lose what become decent-sized pots here. Any ideas?

Had a hand Wednesday night that went much better, though, and had to share. I wrote a post about two months ago in which I described what for me had been the single biggest pot I’d ever won -- $51 (in a $1/$2 fixed limit game). Last weekend I exceeded that with a $61 pot in a $0.10/$0.25 PLO game. Then yesterday broke that record. Here’s how the hand went . . . .

This was a loose 9-player game. Several had bought in short, so my stack of $31.20 was the second highest at the table. I was in the big blind and was dealt 5d2h6c5c. Five players limped in (not at all unusual for these low stakes PLO games), then the button raised to $1.05. The small blind called. Even though Krieger would probably list this holding among his “unplayable hands,” I called, anticipating everyone else would as well. I even remember thinking to myself as the preflop pot was taking shape that I had put in 80 cents to win $7.60 -- 9.5-to-1 odds. So there were seven of us -- including the one player with a larger stack than mine -- to see the flop.

The flop came 9s5h2s. I’d flopped middle set (with no real draws to speak of). Both the small blind and I checked. Then something very interesting happened. The player to my left went all-in with his last $4.80. Then the next player did the same with the $4.65 he had left. Three of the next four players (including the big stack) also just called. This pot was going to be huge by the time it reached me. Then the button (who had raised preflop) raised all-in with his remaining $11.22.

I had a decision to make. I had $30.15 behind me, and was staring at a pot of $32.25. Now someone could slowplay a set of nines here, but there’s really only one player at the table (the big stack) that I’m even worried about. With two spades on board, I can’t imagine him not having pushed here with nines. I also doubt the button -- who’d raised preflop -- has nines, either. More likely one of the baby stacks has the nines, I thought, in which case I’m ahead of everyone else. Just have to dodge that flush.

I went for it, pushing my entire stack in the middle. “This is ridiculous,” someone instantly typed. Of the three players with chips left, two of them called. “This is great,” typed someone else. The big stack -- to my delight -- had folded. The pot was a whopping $83.89. There were five players all-in, plus me (with $8.20 returned).

This hand was on Bodog, and so everyone’s cards were turned over before the turn card came. I quickly looked around the table, trying to find the nines. No one had them. There were a lot of pocket pairs -- queens, jacks, eights, sixes, as well as a set of deuces. And just one of the other five players was on the spade flush draw. Using the CardPlayer Omaha Odds Calculator, here’s what I was looking at:

Percentages on the flop

As it turned out I’m looking at 3-to-1 against winning the hand, but looking back that was probably the best I could’ve hoped for when I had pushed. Almost what the pot odds were on the flop, in fact, when I’d put in around $22 to win $83.89.

The 3s came on the turn, completing the flush for one of my opponents, but knocking out everyone else.

Percentages on the flop

Looking at everyone’s cards, I had just five outs available to me (of the 24 unseen cards) -- the 2 nines and the 3 threes. And the 9c came, giving me the boat and allowing me to drag the huge pot.

Table broke up shortly afterwards, since almost everyone had been felted. There was some chatter, but no one seemed upset with how I’d played the hand. The player with the spade flush seemed almost wistful when congratulating me, having come so close himself to taking the chips.

If anyone wants to call me a donk here, please do . . . and tell me how and why you would have played differently. If correct, I’ll gladly take credit. If incorrect, I’m gonna have to blame the Sudafed.

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Blogger microlimitdonkey said...

Hope you feel better soon.

I may be better qualified to comment on omaha hands in a couple of weeks although it appears that for now i may have caught the omaha bug.

Continued success

3/23/2007 10:23 AM  
Blogger eblonk said...

Wow, eh, I wouldn't have called the raise pre-flop. On the flop, I wouldn't have made that bet with middle pair against a likely flush draw.
But that's just me. And you got that chips (just don't that again, ever....... LOL)

3/25/2007 4:33 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Thanks, donk -- am feeling much better today actually.

And thanks, eblonk . . . I am duly chastened. Was too mesmerized by all them chips in the middle to go away, obviously . . . ! Great way to learn a lesson, tho' . . .

3/25/2007 4:39 PM  
Blogger Aquaman said...

I'm no Omaha expert (I leave that to eblonk), but no way do I call a raise pre-flop with that hand. Post flop there might be an argument for calling but middle set is usually quite poor.

But hey $83 dollars for one hand NICE! (My record and unfortunately it happened 2 yrs ago, and havent come close since is $58.)

3/27/2007 12:38 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

I'm with ya, Aquaman . . . mainly just documenting the occasion (not prescribing how to play this here crazy game). Actually, just going back through this one & seeing how sketchy my play was has helped me here w/decisions as I go forward. Fun game, for sure.

3/27/2007 1:34 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I would definitely have been tempted to fold to all that action, assuming somebody has got to have pocket 9s there. In nlh it's a totally different story, but in Omaha that just seems somewhat likely to me given all that action ahead of you. Of course you were ahead going in so you made the "right" call in the end. Way to go.

3/28/2007 11:06 AM  

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