Thursday, February 12, 2009

A PLO8 deep-stack tournament hand

Over at HoP, Jordan has blogged an interesting hand we played in Tuesday's Skills Game. He also took me to task for my table chatter, as I've been known to make mildly sarcastic remarks at the tables when I know the players I'm playing against and have logged a lot of time with them at the (virtual) felt. It's all meant in good fun, of course (especially when it's West Coast lawyer vs. East Coast lawyer).

Anyhow, here is the hand in question. It illustrates, I think, some important differences players need to recognize between big-bet Omaha and limit Omaha. In L08, if you flop the nut low with an A2xx hand and any sort of high, that's a ticket to showdown. In PL08, however, I think you should exercise caution. The risk of being quartered is a much more expensive proposition. For more on this key concept, I suggest further reading of Jeff Hwang's excellent Pot-Limit Omaha Poker, especially pgs. 277-287.

To sum up: betting the bare nut low into a field of players is rarely correct.

So here is how the hand played out. It was early in the Skills Game and Jordan had lost about 7% of his 3K starting stack. I had dipped just below the 3K mark and was on the button, acting last with best position. (I value position in PLO8 more than in just about any other form of poker, so I will play a lot of hands in this spot.)

TBA limps in for 40 and Jordan makes an oddly aggressive raise from early position with what turned out to be [Ac 4d 2h Qh] -- kids, don't try this at home! -- and I had a trivially easy call with my [Td 2s 5s Ad]: a double-suited A25T hand is plenty good enough to see a flop with in last position. TBA calls as well and 3 of us see the flop of [4c 7s 3s].

At this point, TBA checks and Jordan bets the full pot with the nut low and a pair of fours. I like this play as an effort to pick up the pot right here, but if I'm faced with resistance, I would probably shut down because if an opponent is showing an interest in the pot, I have to assume I have little chance for the high half of the pot and I could be getting quartered for the low -- or even worse, being counterfeited for the low if a deuce hits.

Now, when I see Jordan come right out and bet the pot, I have to assume he also has an A2 in his hand. But if that's the case, I have position and a strong drawing hand (flushes and straights and perhaps three tens) to take three-quarters or even scoop if one of the two remaining deuces comes off.

(A brief list of good cards that I can hit: a deuce, a six, a ten, any spade, etc. and I can represent a wider range than that by virtue of my positional advantage, which puts a lot of pressure on my opponent.)

So I make the dreaded min-raise to 840, which Jordan calls. Running some numbers in my trusty hand equity calculator, we discover that I have a 16% chance to scoop the pot, and a 60% chance to take the high half of the pot. I think this is the key turning point of the hand, right here. As a matter of tournament strategy, I think this is probably the time to get away from a marginal spot with the bare low and a pair of fours. Move on, suck up the loss, and retain a stack of 2240 chips which can be put to better use in future situations where you have better position and better situations to exert leverage.

Instead, we see a turn card -- the 7h. Jordan checks, and I make a "please call me" bet of 600. Jordan opts to check-raise for his last 1820 in chips and I make, in the end, a fairly easy call. And I'm saved when one of my outs hits on the river, the mighty Th giving me top two pair for the high half and the two of us split the low half.

The net result? Jordan lost about half of his stack by playing a speculative hand out of position and, I'd argue, overplaying it postflop. But of course, this is a blogger tournament and I can't fault anyone for deciding to not find the fold button; I've been guilty of that more than once myself.

Of course, you can also argue that I erred in not making full-pot-sized bets, too. Or that I overplayed my non-nut spade flush draw. Or that I should have smooth-called the flop bet and raised on the turn. Or ...

Comments are welcome. This was an interesting hand.


NewinNov said...

Good analysis. The only other line I might consider is going with caution and just calling rather than min raising or such as HOP could have the nut low and either two pair or a set for the high and your high draw would need to materialize otherwise you could get countered. The only reason I would be putting on the breaks is that HOP is showing incredible strength by leading out while out of position. Of course it is a blogger tournament and that can throw any decent analysis out the window. Good stuff.

BWoP said...

Jordan appears first in my bloglines, so I left my thoughts there.

HighOnPoker said...

I'll agree that my hand was not played optimally, but I have to question a few points.

You say that raising with AQ24, single suites, is bad, but calling with AT25 double suited is good. But one of your suited hands is 25, so its not like that's a strong flush draw. And flushes are not that likely to come anyway, so while double suites is nice, it's not like it gives you an extra 10% chance of winning. Also, you had worse cards than me (weaker starting high hand and weaker starting low hand). So how is my bet so bad but your call (a weaker play) so good? The only answer is position, and while that may be the answer, I still don't think it's as black and white as you make it out to be.

The other aspect that I think is not represented (naturally) is my thought process. You were playing a lot of hands and we are playing an PLO8 tourney, which from my experience plays a lot looser than PLO8 cash games. Can we agree on that point? So I didn't take it as a given that you hit the nut low too. You could have the 2nd nut low and a good high or just the high.

Also, you say your final call was easy, but you waited a long time and actually typed something along the lines of you may be calling bad. So how was that an easy call if you announce that you are begrudgingly making the call at the time? My play almost worked, pushing you off of your nut low, weak high, which was sorta the point.

Anyway, good hand, and its great getting analysis from both sides of the hand.

HighOnPoker said...

FYI, just ran the numbers. Preflop, I was 34.5% for the scoop compared to your 23%, 50.5% to take the high compared to your 44%, and 18% to take the low compared to your 7%.

By the same token, I'm essentially crushed post-flop.

Just thought that there numbers were worth noting.

lightning36 said...

Interesting comments. I agree with Jordan that I did not see the suited low cards as being much help -- maybe even being a bit dangerous.

Good post!

Shrike said...

A brief reply:

Like I said, I value position in PL08. My hand plays itself quite well postflop in position, which more than compensates for the fact that's it's not a premium AA23 ds monster.

Your turn CRAI really didn't cause me to nearly fold. I was merely worried you actually had a strong high hand to go along with an A2, but there was no way I could fold given the pot size and the fact that I had a lot of outs to improve. I typed "this could be a cooler" in case you'd been holding a hand like A277, for example.

Thirdly, preflop equity numbers in PLO8 have to be taken with a huge grain of salt. As I'm sure you know, Omaha is a flop game.

Lastly, to get into your thought process a little more, I'd ask: "What do you think PL has when he raises the flop?"

Drizztdj said...

Re-Pot the flop.

If you're looking to trap for a probable scoop of his entire stack, I'd suggest a flat call.