Friday, November 09, 2012

Playing More than Just Hold'em

A few years ago I started player HORSE (a mix if Hold'em, Omaha Hi-Lo, Razz, 7 card Stud and 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo Eight or better) when Pokerstars established a nightly $109 buy in tournament with a $5,000 guarantee. This tournament always went off with either 48 or 40 players meaning there was always $200 or $1,000 added to the prize pool by Pokerstars in order to meet the guarantee. This seemed too good to pass up. The first time I played this tournament I won and out of the first 5 times I played I had another 1st and a 2nd place finish (clearly there was some running hot involved here) as well.Eventually they dropped the guarantee to $3,000 but not before I personally punished them on it.

A couple of other big items on my poker resume came in HORSE tournaments as well: 1) My second biggest win ever was $37,500 for finishing 4th of 444 in a $1,000 HORSE tournament and 2) I was about 90 minutes from day 3 of the $3,000 HORSE event at the 2009 WSOP when I finished 28th of about 450 in the most loaded with big name pros field I've ever faced.

So I wasn't exactly out of my element when I sat down to play $6/$12 Omaha Hi-Lo at the Oaks last night (oh how times have changed!). Since my last post I had a nice win followed by a 4 figure loss and I was in the mood to play smaller stakes and book a win just to get the momentum back in the right direction. I discovered that my opponents all either knew the basics or knew nothing about how to play Omaha.

In Omaha you get 4 cards, which can go together in 6 possible combinations of two cards (you must use exactly two cards from your hand and exactly 3 from the board of community cards). This allows the really bad players to almost always find something they like about a hand and it also means that it's much more common to make a literally unbeatable hand. When you put these two together you get a lot of loose action where many people are calling often, but only raising when they have the nuts (and raising close to 100% of the time they have the nuts).

I seemed to be the only person at the table capable of pushing the 2nd or 3rd nuts when it was obvious that no one had the nuts or folding the 2nd or 3rd nuts when someone raised because it was one of the 5 people at the table would only raise the absolute nuts. It was a fabulous game.

I played for about 4 hours and with a very average run of cards booked a $200 win. But I also got a nice reminder that I have a lot of knowledge locked away that's still there and still has value. I can still get it done at the Omaha table and I'd bet I can still get it done playing HORSE or PLO or 2-7 triple draw or any game you'd find in a poker room...OK maybe not Badugi, but that hasn't really caught on yet.

My wife is sick, but if she recovers enough to handle the kids I just might play a $600 tournament at Lucky Chances tomorrow morning that has a first place of $40,000. If I play I'll let you know how it goes.

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