Dave Colclough turns his expertise to a selection of challenging post-flop situations
Pot-limit Omaha is often described as a flop game, so I want to concentrate on some of the more complex problems of post-flop play. Perhaps the easiest way of explanation is to describe a few of the hands from a recent session I played online that had its highs and lows. I’m going to r un through three interesting hands to illustrate some important points about post-flop Omaha. The first hand concerns tr ying to generate some sort of income from an un-raised pot.
HAND 1 TRAPPING THE VALUE
While playing $3/$6 six-handed PLO on Full Tilt, I was dealt K-K-4-2 offsuit in the big blind and saw a flop with two limpers who both had position on me. The flop was a perfect match of K-7-3 rainbow.
The challenge in this situation was to try and get my opponents to put some money into the pot. The pot was only $21 and the texture of the flop was not dangerous. It is unlikely that an Ace on the turn would give an opponent a bigger set because they would probably have raised pre-flop at this level with Aces.
Only a 4, 5 or 6 have the potential for putting a better hand on the board and it is less likely my opponents are playing with smaller cards. So this is definitely a trap-check situation with little danger of giving away the pot with free cards. Hopefully I could induce a steal from the button. Or better still, maybe an opponent will have two pair.
Unfortunately both opponents checked. However, a Queen then arrived on the turn. This also put two to a flush on board, opening a lot of drawing possibilities. I didn’t want to give the pot away for free, so I bet out the full pot of $21 hoping I would get an opponent to pay for (and preferably miss) their draw.
I did in fact pick up one caller and the turn was a lucky 7, pairing the board. I am now looking at Kings full of sevens, which I am 99% sure is the best hand. I have a specific bet that I like to use in this situation. I call it a ‘Worm bet’ only because Mickey Wernick was the first player I saw employing this style 20 years ago. I had some good PLO tutors right from the start.
The bet is specifically designed for betting first out of position. I like to bet around a third of the pot, which here meant $25 into $63. This achieves several ends:
An opponent with no hand (but a lot of flair) may mistake it as a weak bet and raise in an attempt to steal.
An opponent with a weak hand such as a bare 7 will call when they may not call a full-sized pot bet.
It sets up or disguises a stopper bet in other circumstances (should your opponents actually be paying attention to your actions).
There is some equity loss if an opponent is holding another full house like Q-7 for sevens full of Queens and chooses not to raise. However, in this situation my opponent had been unlucky enough to turn a set of Queens and river Queens full. Therefore, he raised the pot. After a second or so to discard the possibility of quad sevens, as surely he would have bet the flop, I re-raised my $350 all-in, and was called.
A bet on the flop would more often than not have only collected $21 in this situation. A flop check and a lucky turn and river turned the pot into $400 profit.
HAND 2 FOLDING THE BEST HAND
Later in the session, having blinded away almost $200 I had just over $600 in front of me, when I called a raise on the button with 5-7-8-9 (two hearts). There was $57 in the pot and I liked a flop of 7-10-J (two clubs): the nuts!
However, the big blind led straight out with a pot-sized bet, only for the original raiser to re-pot with a raise. It was $228 to me and I was open to another re-raise even if I didn’t do so myself. I reluctantly chose to fold. There are several reasons for this:
One of the other opponents probably also has the straight, so I am risking $600 to win only $300.
This type of straight has two communal cards at the high end, meaning there is a huge number of higher straight draws. Any 8, 9, Queen, King or Ace potentially puts a higher straight on the board.
There is also two to the flush, so there is a 33% chance that a flush will hit the board.
The board may of course also pair up should someone have a set.
As it turned out, folding was a mistake as the turn and river were the 2?-4?, giving me an unlikely backdoor flush that was a scoop. The problem with growing old is that you just lose your imagination!
The big blind, it transpired, held 10-J-Q-K so could have outdrawn me with any 9, 10, Jack or Ace. The original raiser had A-A-Q-10 with the club draw, so needed a King or a club. As it happens I was in about as good a shape as I could have hoped for. However, you can see that I still lose to half the pack on the turn or river. I’m probably about 25% to survive when I see all their cards. However, I would have won, so I am now steaming.
Sometimes in pot-limit Omaha it is correct to fold the nuts on the flop when facing a lot of heat in a multi-way pot. If you don’t have any redraws you may well be needing to dodge more than half the deck to stay in front
HAND 3 CALLING FOR VALUE
Later in the session I connected with another good flop. After raising on the button with A-Q-10-8 (no suit), I was called by just the big blind. The flop was a perfect match of 8-9-J but again with two spades offering a flush draw. Surprisingly my opponent led out, betting the pot of $39. Now, most people’s natural instinct is to raise with the nut straight here to make an opponent pay for their draws should they have trips or the flush draw. However, I was in position, so I chose to flat-call for several reasons:
I could be in a difficult situation where my opponent has both the straight and the flush draw, and it may be best to see what happens on the turn.
My opponent may have been bluffing, or betting ‘blocker’ pocket tens. A brick on the turn may well induce another bluff.
If my opponent is betting the same nut straight as me, I can now represent the flush draw or trips. Should the turn or river produce a spade or a paired board, I will now bet the pot as though I have hit my draw.
The most important reason is just in case my opponent is betting the lower 7-10 straight. In this scenario, I do not want to lose my opponent with a raise that tells him I may have the higher straight. If the turn and river are both unhelpful bricks, my opponent will often bet both streets and lose the maximum amount possible.
As it happens in this case, the turn was a low spade that produced a check from the big blind. I put out a ‘feeler’ half pot bet of $60 and he instantly folded. I guess we will never know what he had.
When you flop a big hand in position with a possible draw on the board, it is sometimes correct to flat-call even though your instincts tell you to raise. Your foe could be betting a worse hand and you may extract more value this way. Plus, if the draw is completed and your opponent checks, you can also represent the draw
WIN SOME, LOSE SOME
Unfortunately, I managed to play an Aces hand pretty badly out of position shortly afterwards, quickly followed by another losing hand where I missed a flush draw. Flush draws seem so much harder to play in PLO than they do in no-limit hold’em. The main reason is that when you have a flush in hold’em, your opponent’s hand is usually a lot weaker, so they are more likely to fold to an aggressive re-raise. Secondly, an Ace-high flush draw can often win by hitting an Ace.
In this scenario the flop was 5-7-10 with two hearts. If I was holding A-2 of hearts in no-limit hold’em and all the money went in on the flop, I could usually expect to have three Aces and nine hearts as solid outs. This is a total of 12 cards, giving me roughly a 48% chance of winning the pot. Considering that there would have been some pre-flop money in the pot and that there is undoubtedly some fold equity involved, it is correct and proper to play this hand very aggressively.
However, in this scenario I re-raised aggressively with my flush draw trying to make my opponent fold, only to find him with a set of sevens. This is a typical scenario for pot-limit Omaha – big post-flop clashes often involve a big made hand against a big draw. I was priced in for his re-raise and ended up with $450 in the middle in bad shape. My hand was A?-2?-K?-K?. I only had two Kings and six non-pairing hearts available, was a massive underdog and deservedly lost.
I had now lost most of my profit and was a meagre $88 up. I logged off, made a cup of tea and watched Liverpool thrash the living daylights out of Manchester United. It’s not such a bad old life.