Dave Colclough talks us through a recent online pot-limit Omaha session and explains his thought processes in a number of situations
So I am in Prague with a very light sprinkling of snow falling outside my window and for some reason I am sitting at the desk in my hotel room logging onto Full Tilt. Beautiful city, beautiful girls and I’ve sat myself down in a $ 5/$ 10 PLO Cap game with $ 800. I know I’m sick. The only excuse I can offer up to the people of Prague for this outrage is that I was slightly hungover from the previous night’s post-poker pub-crawl with the vivacious Mark ‘Abraham’ Dalimore.
For those of you who haven’t played the Cap PLO games on Full Tilt, the basic concept is that your losses are limited to 40 big blinds in any one pot. So should you river Quads against a royal flush the maximum you can lose is $ 400 in the $ 5/$ 10 game. A sort of safety net you might say – an attractive attribute when one is playing slightly hungover.
After playing for a few minutes I was a couple of blinds up in the game when I was dealt 6h-6d-7h-7d. This hand is a bit of a tricky one. It is one of my favourite heads-up hands because of the amount of flops you can catch. It has almost a 50% chance of making a flush, straight, set or better. (It’s worth remembering that any double-paired Omaha hand has about a one-in-four chance of flopping a set.) However, in a six-max game this hand needs to be approached with a little caution because it rarely makes the nuts. So of course I raised it up to $ 35 under the gun.
A bit rash, I’ll admit, but the general idea was to narrow the field to one opponent and maybe surprise him if I caught a low flop. For example, something like 4-5-8 will often induce a bluff from an opponent. Unfortunately, this cunning plan didn’t exactly work out as I picked up three callers.
The flop of 5-6-J rainbow produced middle set for me, with straight redraws. This is not a terrible flop for me, but middle set is still not a hand that can take much heat in a multi-way pot. There was $ 145 in the pot, and I made the groggy mistake of check-raising one opponent for the cap of $ 400. I figured I might take it down there and then, but was insta-called and found myself in very bad shape against J-J-9-8. The perversity of PLO managed to produce the 7c on the river so I lost to a straight instead of a bigger set, but the bottom line was I was now almost $ 400 down and had just stuck my money in with about a 5% chance of winning.
Any double-paired Omaha hand has about a one-in-four chance of flopping a set but be cautious as it rarely makes the nuts
However, just when the Full Tilt red pro was feeling sorry for himself, I was dealt 3-Q-K-K in the big blind. I don’t often raise this hand in late position and I certainly don’t raise it in the big blind when there are four limpers. (I wouldn’t want to open myself up to a re-raise from anyone potentially holding Aces).
Another testing flop of 10-J-A with two hearts appeared – giving me the current nuts but no flush redraw – and I duly checked. This was maybe a little passive, but I was afraid of someone having the same straight and an additional heart draw. This ‘freerolling’ situation is quite common in PLO. The cut-off opponent bet the pot and was called by the button and of course by my good self.
Just when I was frowning away to myself, a magical Ks popped up on the turn. A check-raise ensued for the $ 400 cap and now surprisingly I was freerolling against one opponent with 9-10-J-Q for the same straight with two pair. A very nice Ace paired the board on the river and I was now rather fortunately in front for over $ 100.
The previous night’s hi-jinks were now a distant memory as I raised it up from the button with A-K-Q-2 (more of a pretty hi/lo hand than a good PLO hand, but I was on a roll). The only caller was my previous opponent who was now the big blind. The poker gods produced a 2-2-3 flop and my opponent led out for the pot. Time to cross my fingers, click the raise button, call the cap re-raise, close my eyes and hope.
However my opponent could only display a pair of sad looking Kings, and we didn’t see any nasty surprises from the poker gods on the turn or river. I was $ 500 up in less than half an hour. I was tempted to take the money and run at this point but it appeared my opponent was starting to steam. So I thought it best to hang around for a while.
However, the next hand I played particularly annoyed me. I only lost $ 80 in the pot but it was who I lost it to that annoyed me. I had managed to bag a seat to the immediate left of the tightest player at the table (perfect) and had generally been passing the very few pots he could be bothered to play. He had also made no effort in the couple of pots where everyone passed around to his small blind. He was a perfect blind partner.
Anyway, another innocuous flop of 2-2-5 didn’t provoke any interest from either of us, or the one late position limper. However, a 6d on the turn provided me with the nut flush and I bet $ 15 into a $ 30 pot. The limper passed but my small blind partner smooth-called. An irrelevant 7 showed up on the river and my blind partner led out for the pot ($ 60).
I mistakenly thought he may have a lower flush and made a complete donk call. Of course he showed me 2-5-x-x for the bottom full house and I was livid. Don’t feed the bears! Let them sleep quietly.
On the very next big blind I managed to break another one of my cardinal rules: ‘don’t bet the blockers’. My mind was wandering as I had no interest in my current hand of 8-8-8-J. Four players saw an unraised pot of 6-7-9 rainbow.
I just couldn’t help myself as I clicked in a half-pot bet of $ 20. To my horror I picked up two callers. This shouldn’t have happened. This sort of flop is safe-ish for betting the blockers because it doesn’t provide any flush draws or other straight draws, as for example 7-9-J does. I was now praying for a 10 on the turn. Another nice little rule is to only bluff on flops where you have outs. Although I must admit, I didn’t look for my outs until I picked up two callers.
The 10 didn’t arrive but an equally perfect offsuit 5 hit the turn – ideal bluffing material. As there aren’t any flush draws on this board my opponents must have been looking for a paired board. It hadn’t paired and no new draws had appeared. It’s pretty safe to assume at this level of PLO that players won’t chase lower straights with the likes of 3-4-5-6. So I crossed my fingers again, bet the pot ($ 100) and closed my eyes…Oh what a joyful sound the pass, pass and jingle makes as the pot is passed to you with your eyes closed.
This was followed by a pretty dry 20 minutes or so. My steaming opponent was certainly not steaming any more. The table was definitely on the tight side and I was $ 610 up. Time to quit. In any case, I prefer to play several short one-hour cash game spells rather than one four or five-hour spell. This is one benefit of internet poker that live poker cannot match.
My mind was beginning to wander elsewhere and just for a change I listened to my own rules. Okay, that’s rubbish. I succumbed to temptation. I logged off, threw on a new shirt and popped down the club for a little bit of eye candy.