Slightly different parameters, but the same principle
I spent a few days playing in Downtown Las Vegas during the World Series of Poker this year. Interestingly, they had a regular $1-$3 pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better (PLO8) game running daily at Binion’s. Now, it had been at least a year or two since I last played PLO8 live (as opposed to online), but I took the opportunity to hang out with a few buddies and play a little.
In my new book Advanced Pot-Limit Omaha: Small Ball and Short-Handed Play, I devote a chapter to floating — which is calling a bet on one street with insufficient hand values, with the intention of taking the pot away with a bet on a later street. The bulk of that chapter appeared here in Card Player last year as a seven-part series. That said, while the discussion on floating was with regard to pot-limit Omaha high (PLO), the concept can be applied to PLO8, as well. The parameters may be a little different due to the split-pot rules of PLO8, but the principle is the same: You are calling not because your hand is worth a call on its own merits, but because you have some reason to believe that the bettor may not have a strong enough hand to make it to showdown.
Here are a couple of hands from one of those sessions at Binion’s, utilizing the float in PLO8.
Hand No. 1: Flush-Board Float Against Check-Raise in Three-Bet Pot; Backdoor Nut-Low Draw, and Value-Betting the River
The game: $1-$3 PLO8
My position: Cutoff
My hand: A 2 5 8
My opponent in this hand sounds as if he is an online pro and a PLO8 specialist. He has been raising preflop virtually every other hand. We both have about $1,000 stacks.
Preflop: A middle-position player ($1,000) opens with a raise to $10. The next player folds. I ($1,000) reraise to $20. Everyone folds back to the middle-position player, who calls.
A-2-5-8 double-suited is not a real premium hand in PLO8 — not enough to three-bet a tight player — but I figure it is probably good enough to three-bet a loose raiser with deep stacks and positional advantage.
Flop ($44): J 10 8. My opponent checks. I bet $25. My opponent raises to $60.
I made a weak-stab continuation-bet on a flush board. A couple of thoughts:
1. This is a good spot for a check-raise bluff from my opponent, as he probably expects me to bet any four cards here except maybe a non-nut flush or a set (with which I might check behind for pot-control purposes), and the probability is that I don’t have the nut flush.
2. My opponent likely has either the nut flush or nothing. I don’t think he raises here with a made hand that isn’t the nut flush, because as far as he knows, I don’t figure to give him further action unless I have the nut flush myself or a draw to beat it (that is, I flopped a set). That said, I think my opponent check-calls if he has a non-nut flush, a straight, or a set, but check-raises with either the nut flush or air.
The gist of it is that while my opponent can expect me to bet this flop with any four cards, I expect him to check-raise with virtually any four cards. I think it is more likely that he has air than the nuts here.
I could fold. Or — I can call and represent the flush myself, and see what my opponent does on the turn.
Action: I call.
Turn ($164): 3. My opponent checks.
This card changes things a bit, because now I have the nut-low draw to go with my pair of eights. The original plan was to bet the turn if my opponent checked, but now that I have legitimate outs for the low, I am content with taking the free card.
Note that if I check here, my play is still consistent with a flush, though not the nut flush. If the board bricks on the river, I think my opponent still checks, and I think I can probably still win the pot with a bet.
River ($164): A. My opponent checks.
This is an interesting card, because now I have two pair — aces up — with the second-nut low. I am reasonably positive that my low is good, because I think my opponent would make a big bet to try to pick up the pot if he had 2-4-X-X for the nut low. So while I am uncertain about the strength of my two pair, I can safely bet for value here because I think my low is good.
Action: I bet $100. My opponent calls. I announce my two pair and low, and my opponent mucks.
My guess is that my opponent backed into a weak low and a smaller two pair.
Hand No. 2: Nut-Low Draw Semibluff Float on Paired Board
The game: $1-$3-$6 PLO8
My position: “Downtown” button straddle
My hand: A 2 K Q
The “Downtown” straddle is a button straddle in which the under-the-gun player acts first and the action passes the button so that the blinds act before him preflop unless there is a raise and a reraise in front of the button straddle, in which case the button has to act in turn. This version of the Mississippi straddle is even more powerful than the Mississippi straddle.
Preflop: The cutoff ($200) limps in. The small blind and big blind both call. I ($1,200) raise to $30, and only the cutoff calls.
Without a suited ace, my holding is not a real premium hand, but I thought I’d give raising a shot here anyway. The cutoff is not a particularly tough player.
Flop ($66): 10 8 5. My opponent checks. I check.
I decided to take the free card with the nut-low draw. Any Broadway card would bring help, as well.
Turn ($66): 10. My opponent bets $35.
This is a probable weak stab. I can call here and represent A-A-X-X or trips. If my opponent checks the river, I will bet and try to pick up the pot if I make the nut low, or if an 8, 9, or jack comes; I will check and show down if an ace, king, queen (giving me top pair), or 10 (giving me nut trips with the A-K-X-X) comes.
Action: I call.
River ($136): 4. My opponent checks. I bet $100, and my opponent folds.