An interesting, complex hand
What follows is the first of what likely will be a series of pot-limit Omaha (PLO) practice-hand quizzes, similar to those found in my book, Pot-Limit Omaha Poker: The Big Play Strategy. These problems are taken from actual hands I’ve played, and are graded on a standard 10-point scale.
Hand No. 1
It’s a $5-$10 PLO full-ring game with stacks ranging from $1,000 to $4,000. You ($1,700) are dealt the Q J 9 8 under the gun, and are first to act.
1. Should you:
C. Raise to $25?
D. Raise to $40?
2. You bring it in for a small raise to $25. Everyone folds to the button ($2,500), who reraises to $95. Both blinds fold. Should you:
3. You call (Pot: $205). The flop comes K 10 6. Should you:
A. Check with the intention of folding?
B. Check with the intention of calling?
C. Check with the intention of raising?
4. You check. Your opponent checks behind. The turn is the 3. Should you:
5. You bet $200. Your opponent raises to $800. Should you:
6. You call (Pot: $1,805). The river is the K. Should you:
Hand No. 1: Grades (Points) and Analysis
1. A(0), B(10), C(6), D(2). Q-J-9-8 with a suit is a near-premium-class hand. That said, your main priority when playing out of position is to keep the pot multiway. The one thing you definitely want to try to avoid is putting in a big raise and have only one player call behind you. This generally means limping in or otherwise keeping your preflop raises small.
2. A(0), B(10), C(0). Getting three-bet is suboptimum, as you are now playing heads up while out of position – or basically the situation you were trying to avoid, but now for a bigger pot. But you can’t really fold, either. Reraising is a bad idea, as you don’t want to get four-bet by A-A, and it doesn’t make much sense to build an even bigger pot when out of position. Calling is the best play.
3. A(0), B(2), C(10), D(8). This is a pretty good flop for you heads up, with a 17-card wrap and backdoor spades. But basically, with the equivalent of about two-and-a-half bets left to play, you can play for stacks without getting way the worst of it.
You could bet the pot now and give your opponent the chance to fold. Alternatively, you can check; your opponent has the preflop initiative, and may follow through with a continuation-bet, which you can raise and blast him out of the pot.
My preference is to let my opponent put a little more money in the pot before I (semi)bluff him out.
4. A(0), B(10). The heart on the turn dampens the value of your draw. That said, the main consideration here is that your opponent is not likely to have anything to call you with, having checked the flop. You could check and try to get a free card – or you can take a stab at the pot and try to end it here.
5. A(10), B(6), C(0). For your opponent to raise here, he likely has either a set of threes or a draw that includes hearts; the draw is probably more likely, considering that your opponent three-bet preflop. The safe play would be to fold, as your own draw is considerably weakened. My problem is folding when I know my opponent doesn’t have anything.
Reraising is a bad idea, as your opponent is unlikely to fold. However, there is another alternative to reraising, which is the stop-and-go (call the raise and bet the river, hit or miss, except maybe if a heart hits, to which you can give up).
6. A(2), B(10). You missed your draw, but this is a good card for you, because you can figure that your opponent doesn’t have K-10-X-X (or any other king, for that matter, as he otherwise likely would have bet the flop). In addition, so far, your own play is consistent with a hand like K-10-X-X.
That said, if your opponent has a set of threes, he still would have a hard time calling if you bet all in. And if he doesn’t, he is going to have a hard time calling with any other hand that has you beat.
In the actual hand, I bet my last $800 and change all in. My opponent folded, showing 8-7-5-4 with two hearts, having picked up a wrap and a flush draw on the turn. I guess that means I bluffed with the best hand, but my opponent just as easily could have had something like 7-6-5-4 with hearts, for a pair and wrap.
This was an interesting hand with a lot of components to it, namely the three-bet preflop, the foiled check-raise, the semibluff, the semibluff raise, and semibluff turned stop-and-go (I guess you could call it). It was certainly one of the more complex hands I’ve ever played.
This article was originally written by Jeff Hwang. Jeff Hwang is a semiprofessional player and author of Pot-Limit Omaha Poker: The Big Play Strategy. His latest book is Advanced Pot Limit Omaha Vol.1 and will be releasing Vol 2.