Tuesday, July 03, 2007

2007 WSOP, Day 33: A Pot Limit Omaha Puzzler

Phil Laak faced a tough decision in Day 1 of Event No. 50The final table of Event No. 50, the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha event, is just now getting underway. This is the one designated the “World Championship” since it is the highest buy-in PLO event.

The big story, of course, is that Doyle Brunson is among the final nine. Patrik Antonius, Marco Traniello, and Robert Mizrachi are also there, all chasing current chip leader Tommy Ly. PokerNews is promising hand-by-hand coverage of the final table.

Unlike other tourneys at this year’s WSOP, where players have begun with twice the buy-in in tournament chips, players only started with 10,000 in this one, although each was given one “free” rebuy (or add-on) of 10,000 chips as well. In other words, each player got a second stack of 10,000 he or she could take at anytime during the first three levels, or automatically receive as an add-on at the end of Level 3. Reports from PokerNews and elsewhere made it sound as though very few players used their “rebuy” option voluntarily, only doing so if they happened to get stacked during the first three levels. Those who made it to the end of Level 3 without using the option then received the extra 10K as an add-on.

The unusual format presents an interesting strategy question whether to take the extra 10,000 right away or not -- what would you do?

I’ve mentioned before how I’ve been playing almost nothing but PLO lately. Did jump back into some limit HE during June, as well as a bit of Stud Eight-or-better. (As a matter of fact, I just used some PokerStars FPPs to buy Ray Zee’s High-Low-Split Poker: Sevent-Card Stud and Omaha Eight-or-Better which arrived late last week.) But PLO has remained my primary game for the last few months.

So for folks like me -- or my buddy Erwin Blonk, who's starting up a new podcast devoted to Omaha -- some of these hands from Event No. 50 are providing some intriguing puzzles to consider. Let me share one such head-scratcher from Day 1 with you here. Saw this one initially reported over on PokerNews, then given a bit of elaboration over at Gutshot.

Three players are involved in the hand -- Phil Laak, Sam Farha, and an unidentified player. The PokerNews reporter picks up the action on the turn as Laak is facing a difficult decision.

The board reads KsJd5d4s and both Sam Farha and the other player are already all-in. This hand took place during Level 2, a time when (I believe) all three players still had their “rebuy” option available. In any event, Laak does eventually make the call, and therefore we learn he is holding JcJs7s4h.

Before we look at either of Laak’s opponents’ cards, tell me -- what do you think of Laak’s call? His starting hand is pretty modest when it comes to PLO, actually. We don’t know if he had to call any preflop raises or not. (I suspect he didn’t.) It is possible, then, that someone has a set of kings -- putting Laak in seriously bad shape here -- although I suspect the action to this point must have sufficiently dissuaded Laak of that possibility.

Okay . . . so you’re Laak and you’ve got what is most likely the best hand currently with your set of jacks. Do you risk it here or not? You are probably facing two different flush draws -- spades and diamonds. You’ve got the jack-high spade flush draw, but it is very possible one of your opponents might have the queen- or ace-high spade draw. You are also likely up against two different straight draws (a high one and a low one).

Think of all the river cards that are probably going to be bad for you here! Any diamond that doesn’t pair the board kills you. Same goes for any non-pairing spade, too (probably). An ace could complete either a low or high straight. A queen, ten, or nine also likely makes someone a straight, as might a deuce, trey, six, seven, or eight. Is it time to chuck it?

In this case, Laak knows that while he might have a slight edge over each of his two opponents, he also knows he surely doesn’t have an edge over the both combined. In a cash game, the call might not be so hard to make -- tripling up is possible, and if you don't you can always reach in your pocket and buy in again. A tourney is different -- though I suppose the “rebuy” option figures here, too. What to do?

As I said, Laak made the call with his JcJs7s4h. Here is that board again (so you don't have to scroll up): KsJd5d4s.

Farha had Qs8s7d6d, giving him the better spade draw, a low diamond flush draw, plus more outs for the straight (any of the remaining treys, sixes, sevens, or eights). The other player turned over AhKdTd8c, giving him the better diamond draw but only three other potential outs (the other queens -- and Farha has one of those) for Broadway. According to the CardPlayer Omaha calculator, Laak was just under 42% to win the hand, Farha about 36%, and the other player about 22%.

The river was the 2h, and Laak’s set held up. According to Gutshot reporter, Laak was so suspicious that any card left in the deck could have been safe for him, he called security over to investigate.

While we don’t have all of the info here, the hand clearly shows how dicey big pairs can be in Omaha. Even if you flop a set, you’re usually mighty vulnerable, which is why hands like JcJs7s4h -- where the other two cards really aren’t helping your jacks all that much -- aren’t usually rated too highly in PLO. At least not by the good players.

Follow that Event No. 50 final table -- and all of the other action -- on PokerNews’ live reports.



Blogger Aquaman said...

Loved this hand.. My instant "feel" was Laak was in trouble, then after 5 seconds I thought it was a great call. He was actually in even better shape than I thought he would be, when you revealed the other hands. Good post! Eblonk must be loving all the Omaha at this year's WSOP.

7/03/2007 9:50 PM  
Blogger Erwin Blonk said...

There was some great Omaha action the WSOP. I´m going to try to satellite my way into the WCOOP (online! yeah baby) and/or the WSOP.

The updates are great, I hoped to be able to do it myself but that IT stuff took the better part of my time.

I hope the WSOP-E gets the same online coverage because I can´t go there this year (unless I satellite in, in which case the rest of my life will have to wait :D ). As the WSOP-E PLO is on Saturday and Sunday during CET friendly times, I hope to be able to do some things along the lines of semi-live reporting. We´ll see.

7/04/2007 3:31 PM  

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