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Let’s try some Omaha, PLO

May 26, 2008

Every post is not going to be brilliantly educational or philosophical, I guess. I do wish WordPress had a better method for indexing and summarizing posts. It would be nice if people, including myself, could click on an index, see everything listed, sort it by category, and see the first line or two. I can do so from my dashboard, but can’t see how anyone else can see this. There are ways of making a static index, but then you have to manually update it. There are categories, but if you click on a category link it just takes you to all the postings in that category instead of an index of what’s in that category. Maybe Google or some other search engine, since they’re tracking updates pretty quickly, is a better option even though they are external to the blog itself.

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Only recent item of note; I’m playing around with Omaha lately. I’ve played a bit of 7 card Stud, but started with some Omaha play money tournaments on PokerStars, then played a couple of the 0.10/240 person Turbo 6 max Sit and Go tournaments there. I also sat down at at 0.02/0.05 cash table until the table broke up, and left up some 60% over my buy in after some 20 hands.

People often say how they find Omaha more profitable than Hold’em, which is part of the reason why I’m curious to play it. So far in my play at the 0.10 tournament I suspect some players understand even less about the game than I do. I recall taking one person out when they had the Ace of clubs and four clubs were on the table. I had a boat anyways, but I suspected that they thought that they had the nut flush.

Right now I’m focusing on Hi only. The plan would be to get used to reading the hands and play with Hi, then maybe learn Razz as that will get me used to reading low hands, and then add Hi/Lo.

General observations/strategy so far:

  • See more flops than NLHE because it’s more likely to hit the board hard or at least have multiple draws with some combination of your pocket cards
  • Because AA apparently is only 2-1 over any other holding and because of the “see more flops” noted above, I’m only raising AA or KK preflop
  • Other good starting hands have cards that work together, like suited Aces, all mid-range cards with some suited-ness, all high cards with some suited-ness, ect. Some holding where there’s some flexibility if you get a certain type of flop, like two to a flush or straight or both.
  • Because there are so many draw possibilities, the only hands I’m betting on the flop are 3 of a kind or better, or occasionally two pair hands. An overpair (unless I raised preflop) or just top pair isn’t worth a bet
  • Don’t start shoving chips in on the turn or river unless I have the nuts, or very close. Because there are so many combination draws you almost assume that if a flush or straight fills on the turn or river, someone has it. Same with if the board pairs; someone very possibly has a boat. Apparently this is one of the more common mistakes made by beginners; bet/calling with Hold’em big hands that are not so big in Omaha
  • Because everyone has 4 cards and because there are so many draws, even runner-runners are definite possibilities. For example, someone may call a flop bet with two pair, but when the turn comes their runner-runner flush becomes a possibility giving them even more outs. Even if you bet the pot you can’t assume they don’t have the runner-runner flush on the river because maybe they had something else on the flop and a combination on the turn

At this point I’m still practicing reading my hand. The board is the same as Hold’em, so seeing what might be out there is not hard, I just have to be more suspicious of a wider range of hands that hit, especially when things fill on the turn or river. But I’m used to seeing how my two cards hit the flop and not yet used to re-evaluating when the turn card comes in case some other draw is coming alive with a different combination of cards.

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In the first 0.10 tourney I tried to record a video so that I could get some feedback on my play, but the audio didn’t work. That’s too bad because I did a lot of explaining my way through my thinking so that not only my play but my thought process could be critiqued. However by doing that, and by trying to be fairly comprehensive in my vocalizing of my thinking process, I learned quite a bit (and even got 0.80 back for finishing 11 or so). I felt quite a difference when I later sat at the 0.02/0.05 table and at the next 0.10 tourney, although in the later tourney I played too many hands and too aggressively and went out about 120th or so.

So that in and of itself is not a bad thing. Partly because I’ve played NLHE for a while I tend to put very little conscious effort into certain plays, and I use a lot of shortcuts and “standard” plays given certain hands, boards and situations. This shortcutting/non-conscious thinking would hamper my learning at a new game. In fact, I could probably learn something by doing a similar video playing NLHE and stepping my way thru the thought process.

But for a new game like Omaha, given my understanding of poker hands and pot odds, it can be quite valuable to think through the process in detail ’cause I have the ability to reason some of the basics out if I take the time. Plus, if I can get someone with experience to watch the video and hear my thinking process, I can learn where I’m missing something or going sideways with my thinking.

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