Talking texture

How your opponent’s post-flop pot-limit Omaha playing style should drive every decision you make

Last time I explored the problem of playing medium-strength hands on an untextured board depending on the style of your foe. But how should we adapt our game when the board is textured? Let’s say you hold A-K– 9-3 and the flop comes A-8-3.

The problem here is that two spades have fallen. Your primary obligation is to protect your hand, so you need to make sure of two things: 1) if your opponent does have a flush draw, you make him pay for it, and 2) you protect yourself against the nasty decision that will arise on the turn if a spade hits.

Against an aggresive opponent

You know if you check he will bet the hand for you. So now, instead of flat-calling, you check-raise because you’re happy to pick the pot up right there and lock up the profit when there are so many nasty cards that could hit on the turn. Also, you are much more likely to get called by a weak holding when the board is textured. He may think you are raising with the draw yourself and top pair might just call you heads-up.

Also, when you check- raise, you may get called by the naked flush draw and you are happy to gamble against that. Either way, you pick the pot up right there or get called by a weak holding.

Against an passive opponent

You should bet out this hand. The problem is that your passive opponent is much more likely to check the flop, and on this board you really don’t want to give a free card. Since your opponent is not likely to give you the hand-protecting check-raise option here, you should go ahead and bet out strongly. If he flat-calls, you know he has something: either a flush draw, so you can play with caution if a spade hits; or a scared, weaker hand, where he is waiting to see if the flush card hits.

Betting out gives you the maximum information about his hand, narrowing it down to these two categories. If he folds, that’s okay with you because you didn’t really want to proceed to the turn without knowing what he had – and a check would have given you the least amount of information with the least amount of hand protection.

The same, but different

But what if the board is textured and you have a piece of the texture? Let’s give you K-10-9-7 and a flop of K-8-3. You have top pair and a low flush draw, which puts your hand in the medium-strength category in heads-up play. How do you play this hand against an aggressive and passive opponent out of position?

Here’s the beautiful thing: you play the hand the same as top and bottom pair on the textured board when you don’t have the flush draw. This mixes up your play in your foe’s eyes, without you having to take the worst of it to confuse him. You make the same play, just for different reasons.

Against an aggresive opponent

You should check to check-raise as you are essentially semi-bluffing. If you pick the pot up right there you are happy because no matter what your opponent’s hand is, there are a lot of ways for you to lose this pot. Your foe might also fold a better hand than yours to the check- raise, as a hand like a naked K-J will likely fold this spot. Even if you do get called it is very unlikely you do not have outs.

Sometimes your opponent will call with just a naked flush draw and you are certainly a favourite against that hand. If he calls with a better made hand you still have flush outs. In fact the only hand you don’t want to face is a better made hand and a bigger flush draw combined.

Against an passive opponent

You should lead out. Your hand is too weak to give off free cards, so checking is a no-no. By betting out, you protect the aspect of your hand that is made and maximise the information you need about your opponent’s hand. If your opponent folds that’s okay, as the locked up pot is fine with you when you are on the weak side of things.

Also, he might just have folded the best hand, again like the naked K-J. If he calls, it tells you one of two things: he has a better made hand or a better flush draw. Either way you have gained a lot of information and can proceed with caution. If your opponent raises, and he is really passive, then you’re looking at an easy fold.

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