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Swimming With The Sharks: Get Set, Part One

Posted at 11:44 2009-06-17
Alright, you’ve waited patiently enough to hear what I have to say about playing sets in Omaha, and now I shall deliver. The set is the strongest draw in Omaha, quite simply because once you make your hand (that is to say, you have made a full house or quads), your opponent’s flush and straight draws are dead. In this first part, we will take a closer look at the set as a draw. Sets are unique because they work as both draws and made hands; it is uncommon to see a set win a pot when other draws do not get there. This is what makes sets the level three draws. If you are unsure what I mean by level theory, then you should read parts one and two of my series on Omaha draws.
 
I must explain quickly that a set is when you hold two of the same card, and a third of that card comes out on the board. A set is NOT when you hold one card and two of that card comes out on the board. This is trips. This is an extremely important difference, because playing trips is very different to a set. With trips, it is possible for someone to have the same or better trips, but no one can have the same set as you.
 
With flopping a set, on an unpaired board there will be three set possibilities. I would like to take a closer look at all three, and explain what they mean. Let’s say that the flop is {8d} {Jh} {Ks}.
 
[b]Bottom Set:[/b] In this case, a set of eights. Bottom set is always the trickiest set to play, because you have to be certain your opponent does not have a set to have the best hand. I always prefer to play bottom set cautiously. Betting strong on the flop like the one above, but if the turn was say the {10d}, I would slow down. Also, if the turn card is the {Jd}, we have made a full house, but KK, KJ, JJ, and J8 have us beat, so essentially this hand is similar to a small flush or a low straight in the sense that once you make your hand, you still might not have the best hand. Be careful with bottom set, play it aggressively when the board is unconnected. If someone plays back at you, be careful with your read. If you don’t put them on a straight draw on that flop, it is unlikely that you have them beat, as the only other hands are sets.
 
[b]Middle Set:[/b] In this case, a set of jacks. This is a very strong hand here, because the only hand in the deck that beats you is a set of kings. Play this strong. You want straight draws, two pair, and bottom set to pay as much as possible to see the next two cards. Majority of the time on this flop you will have the best hand. Remember though, like with bottom set, if a straight card arrives, you may have to slow down. The case jack or an eight on the turn are very good cards, as players with K8, KJ, J8, 88, etc have made full houses that will most likely pay you some money on either the turn or river. Be careful though if a king drops on the turn. You have made a full house, but a player with KJ or K8, or even KK has got you beat, so you need to be aware of that.
 
[b]Top Set:[/b] In this case, a set of kings. Best possible hand on this flop. Raise, re-raise, pot, re-pot, it doesn’t matter; top set is like getting pocket aces preflop in Holdem. You want to maximize value by getting as much money as you can in while you are definitely in front. Trying to slow-play top set only works if you know your opponent will bet. The last thing you want to do is give your opponents the chance to crack your hand, so making them commit a large part of their stack is extremely important. Also, it could be that your opponent has a lower set, in which case you would be missing chances to make money by slow-playing.
 
Now the aim with a set is to make a full house, and leave all other draws dead. In Omaha, because full houses are more common than in Hold'em, there are two types of full houses. The first is an underfull, and the second is an overfull. For example, if the turn card was the {Js}, the board would then read {8d} {Jh} {Ks} {Js}. Having pocket eights would be holding the underfull as your hand is eights full of jacks. Having pocket kings would be holding the overfull as your hand is kings full of jacks. You know that a full house is three of one card and two of another. When the three is a higher card than the two (in this case, king being higher than jack), you have an overfull. When the three is a lower card than the two (in this case, the eight being lower than the jack), you have an underfull. Hopefully that makes sense.
 
So I’ve talked today about the set. We’ve discussed when to be cautious and when to play aggressively. We talked about knowing when to maximize value, and when you need to consider when you’re beat. Remember that on connected boards, sets are draws, so don’t commit your whole stack blindly with top set if there are straights or flushes out there. In a game where almost any hand is playable, chances are someone has that straight or flush.
 
Haven’t got your complete fix on the set draw? That’s okay, next week I will release part two of this series, where I will discuss playing the full house, as well as quads. Plus, we will take a closer look at how to play against the set, which is very important. Knowing how to play against a set helps you understand how to play your own.
 
As usual, if you have anything you would like me to discuss, or if you have some comments, you can contact me through the PokerNetwork forums. Until next time, I wish you all the best of luck at the tables.
 
- Michael ‘TheSharkBoy’ Palti.

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Swimming With The Sharks: Get Set, Part One Swimming With The Sharks: Get Set, Part One

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