Swimming With The Sharks: "I Raise The Pot"

Posted at 17:31 2009-03-17
Last week I discussed in detail the art of Omaha bluffing. I feel like I should spend some time talking about Omaha in general as well, which is what I will do today. I also received several emails from readers, and I appreciate the response. Remember, if you have a hand or a topic you would like me to discuss, send me an email via PokerNetwork and I’ll be happy to help you out.
Now, the important thing to remember about Omaha, or with any form of poker, is that the higher you play, the more you should know. I will not delve too deep into Omaha strategies, but I want to give some basic tips to help those who know how to play, but perhaps want to take that extra step forward. This will be in reference to just pot limit Omaha, not hi-lo, but I hope to discuss that in a future article.
One of the most crucial parts to the game of Omaha is a small three letter word that defines the game: “pot”. In the game of PLO, the word “pot”, as well as the pot itself, are two big factors. Make sure you know the exact size of the pot at all times. Don’t verbalise it and don’t show everyone you’re counting the size of the pot - you should be doing these maths in your head. For example, in a game of 5/10 PLO, you raise pot to $35. Only the blinds call. The pot is now $105. If you always know the size of the pot, you can determine when a bet is a value bet, or perhaps a weak bet. Also, you have a better understanding of what to bet because you can work out your play in relation to the pot. I feel this is important in all games, but in pot limit games especially.
Make sure that you pick hands that can win big pots. Playing a hand such as {Ks}{As}{6d}{3c} is always dangerous because not only do you have the nut flush draw, but you also have the second nut flush draw covered with the king. So if you were to make your nut flush, the next best flush would be only queen-high, which would be unlikely to play a big pot with you. With that hand you would be essentially looking to flop a straight or full house, and this is also quite unlikely. Remember that Omaha is very different to Hold’em, so hands like “AK” and “JJ” have a lot less value, whereas hands such as {9s}{8s}{6d}{7d} have a lot more value as they are “combo” hands. While it may not be high flush draws, hitting with this hand often means hitting hard. For example with a flop of {9d}{Ts}{5d} we now have a full wrap, as well as the flush (and straight flush) draw. Against a high pocket pair with no nut flush draw we would be a favourite on this flop, despite only actually having second pair.
This ties in with my next point. Always be aware of what the nuts is on the board. For example on that flop of {9d}{Ts}{5d} the nuts is actually a set of tens. However, unlike in Hold’em, a set of tens is not a huge favourite against our big draw on this flop. In fact, against the set, we could have as many as twenty outs here! Even though the flush outs may not be good, we are drawing to several straights, and we have one nut straight, if a six were to show up. Also, the {8d} would give us the straight flush, and would be the money card against the nut flush draw.
Be aggressive when you think you have the best of it. More often that not the nuts on the flop will not be the nuts on the river, and if you don’t want to get to the river you have to bet. If I have a set and I think someone is playing a big draw, I sometimes like to flat the flop, and re-assess on the next street. If the draw gets there I am willing to bet and then fold to the raise, or if it misses I can bet big and force my opponent to pay full price for their draw. Omaha, more than any other game in my opinion, is a game that gets to the river. In Hold’em, it is not uncommon for an entire orbit to go without a flop, however this is very rare in Omaha. The reason for this is that most hands are not big favourites against any others preflop, so players will often try to see flops and hit big. Use this knowledge to your advantage. I like to keep aggressive, force players to pay big money preflop for their hands. On the other hand, you can adopt this passive style in the hopes of flopping a monster and getting paid.
Earlier I mentioned raising pot. I would like to explain this a little further. Remember that if you are not aware of the size of the pot and you announce pot, you might have misjudged how much that bet actually is. Betting pot is generally a sign of strength, as you are willing to commit the maximum amount of chips possible. Also be aware that when others raise pot they also are showing strength, so don’t play a marginal hand for a full pot bet.
Position is a key factor to any poker game, and Omaha is no exception. Playing under the gun, you should be folding almost any hand you are not willing to call a raise with. However, in position, you may be more inclined to call a raise or even make one yourself because you will be last to bet on the flop and have the advantage of seeing everyone else’s actions before you. I like to keep my hand range tighter when I am in early position, but I like to play nearly anything on the button. Your hand range is up to you, but you might find that you will limp from early position only to fold your hand when “pot” is announced from the other side of the felt. This is when you’ll think to yourself “why didn’t I fold like SharkBoy told me to?”
So, if I had to tie it all up, today we looked at several key elements to Pot Limit Omaha:
-         Knowledge of the pot size
-         Playing hands to win big pots
-         Being aware of the “nut hand”
-         Being aware of nut hands you can make
-         Aggressive when you have it!
-         To play aggressive preflop or passive preflop
-         The strength behind raising the pot
-         Play more hands in position
We’ve covered a lot of ground here, but there is still quite a bit I would like to discuss. However that should be enough for now. Make sure to practice at limits you are comfortable at before taking on the serious games. The more you know, the stronger you chances of beating the better players.
Next week I will actually write about Hold’em for the first time, as I came across an interesting hand that I would like to discuss. As mentioned earlier, feel free to contact me with ideas, criticisms, compliments, hands to discuss, whatever you feel like.
- Michael “SharkBoy” Palti


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Swimming With The Sharks: 'I Raise The Pot' Swimming With The Sharks: 'I Raise The Pot'

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