Monday, September 21, 2009


Fresh from a week of traveling through the East Coast, I spent Sunday and Monday playing marathon sessions of Pot Limit Omaha. Why? I don't know. I'm not a great Omaha player (yet). If I wanted only to make money I should play Hold'Em. But Omaha still holds many mysteries; that's part of its appeal. It keeps me interested.

I played mostly B- poker, won a very small amount, and mostly ran ok. I probably still bluff too much; especially at low stakes, this is a mistake. But, against thinking opponents, Omaha offers lots of opportunities for creative bluffs.

A hand that came up yesterday illustrates this. I'm on the button with (As Ac 8h 7d). Two players ahead of me limp, and I bet the pot. I get one caller, a tight, thinking player UTG. So far this player, who I'll call "Marine" (his icon on the poker site I play at was a US Marine in dress uniform) lead out on a flop of (10h 2h 2c), betting exactly half the pot.

You can make an argument to call, raise, or fold here. I had noticed, however, that this player tended to bet smaller when he had drawing hands than he did with made hands. (A pretty common phenomenon. People who have good hands bet more than people who don't. Seems obvious, but it's true.) It's unlikely that he would have a two in his hand and if he had tens full he would either bet pot or, more likely, check in an attempt to go for a check raise.

I decided that he probably had a flush draw--although a two was not impossible. I called, figuring that if the heart flush did not hit, he might give up.

Instead, the turn was a King of hearts. Again, Marine bet out half the pot (about 20$). Again, I called. Why? I have no idea, except that his half-pot bets made me feel like he was weak. So far during that session I had played very tight; he hadn't seen me bluff once. He was also way up in the game, and I thought it was likely that he would be wanting to protect his winnings, and not want to put in a lot of money with a medium strength hand. If he had a flush now, he still had to be worried that I had filled up--a distinct possibility given that Kings or Aces are the most likely hands for me to raise preflop.

I thought that calling the turn might seem like a smooth call--like I was trying to lure him in to betting into my Kings full. Or at least, I thought that it COULD look that way. It was possible that HE had Kings full, in which case I was in big big trouble.

The river was a brick and again he lead out, but this time for only 30$, into a pot of about 90$.
I then reraised, all-in (for about another 120$). He thought for a long, long time. Clearly he had some kind of flush and didn't want to let it go. But at last, he folded. He'd decided to give me credit for Kings full. Which I might have had. But I didn't.

Then a few hours later I donked away that same hundred making a hugely inopportune bluff into someone who'd flopped quad eights. In poker, if you want to bluff, you should not bluff someone who has four of a kind. That's an old saying. And it's true.

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