Swimming With The Sharks: Tell Me More

Posted at 21:30 2009-09-23
Well, it’s been quite a while since the last edition made its way to the PNW screens, and I do apologise for that. It’s been a mix of being away (I spent some time in Queensland as well as Cambodia) and not playing a lot of Omaha. I think it’s fair to say that I should not be giving advice about the game unless I am playing it! But I am back, and ready to deliver. This week, I would like to cover some Omaha tells that often can make the difference between making a lot of money. Some of these tells can also transcend into Texas Holdem and other poker variants, so see if you can spot some of them in your local games.
Tell Number One: The Two Holdem Hand
This tell is very common in live Omaha games, and often helps give you crucial information on players you may not be familiar with. Look out for the players who, rather than looking at all four of their cards at once, prefer to pretend that they have two Holdem hands, and spend their time looking at them as if they were two separate hands. Sometimes, they may even switch their cards around, but they will never look at all four cards at once. For new players, this is a way for them to get accustomed to the number of cards, or perhaps it is easier for them to remember their cards when they relate it to Holdem, but generally it gives the indication of a player new to the game of Omaha, and this is very important. New players are generally less likely to understand some fundamentals of the game, and might play a bit tighter than the rest of the table because of that. These are the players you want to pounce on, as they are prone to making mistakes and will definitely let you know when they have a monster.
Tell Number Two: What Do I Have?
All Omaha players will go through that hand where they thought they had something, and realise that they have something completely different. I have done this myself on occasion, and on even rarer an occasion, won anyway! However, you will find players that consistently fail to see what hand they are playing. I have often seen players with three of a suit in their hand proclaim they have a flush with only two of their suit on the board. The same goes with sets. Players with three of the same card in their hand will confidently turn over their cards when they hit their set on the flop under the assumption that they now have quads. Remember that you are playing a minimum AND maximum of two of your cards, so always be aware of what options that gives you. If you find a player who makes this mistake often, they might not have a good understanding of the game and you should look to capitalize while they have money on the table.
Tell Number Three: Shake It!
Every poker player knows the old rule: if they shake, they have it. Players who are beside themselves with joy sometimes cannot help but shake as they place their money in the pot, praying for a call or raise. In Omaha, this rule applies as much as any other game. A player who shakes constantly might just have some sort of illness, but if a generally rigid player starts shaking when reaching for chips, it’s a sign of strength. You’ll find that players will try to hide their shakes, and as a result fumble with their chips or pause after attempting to make a bet so that they can compose themselves and try again. If you notice this from a tight player, get away fast! Sometimes the shaking is just a subconscious reaction, and the player themselves wont even notice it. Use that to your advantage, because there is nothing better than knowing exactly when your opponent has made their hand.
Tell Number Four: Did I Hit That?
Draws are a funny thing in Omaha; they can win you a lot of money but just as quickly lose you a lot of money. When players hit the flop in Omaha, they sometimes re-check their cards to see exactly what they have. Experienced players will casually look back at their cards without making it look obvious, whilst newer players are more likely to instantly check their cards to see how they’ve hit. This doesn’t always mean they’ve hit big, but more often when a player instantly checks their cards again, they either have hit something and want to check it is still there, or they’ve completely forgotten what they had. Perhaps this is the tell that you need to look out for if it doesn’t happen. If a player doesn’t look back at their cards, it means that they have no trouble memorizing the cards they are holding. This generally is attributed to a player who knows a lot about the game, and who remembers their cards naturally. Whilst this may not help you win any pots with this information, it does help you gain a better understanding of your opponent. You know now that the player has played before, and he/she knows what they’re doing, so you might not be able to push around with them as much as other players.
If there’s one piece of information you need to remember from this article, it’s that tells aren’t always about winning pots. Tells are also used to give you information on players to help you outplay them. Even the smallest things, such as finding out the player has ordered a very strong alcoholic beverage, or that the player has never played at these stakes before, those little tidbits give you so much insight into how that player will play. The ability to take all that information in and use it effectively gives you a major edge over the players seated with you.
With that, I hope you all have successful sessions next time you play. As always, if you have any questions or comments, you can leave a comment or send me a message through the PokerNetwork forums. Next week, I will be delving into some Omaha Hi-Lo strategy, but until then, best of luck!
- Michael ‘The SharkBoy’ Palti

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Swimming With The Sharks: Tell Me More Swimming With The Sharks: Tell Me More

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