Category Archives: Strategy

The Unpredictable Game of Pot Limit Omaha

An Experience in Pot Limit Omaha

The best way to learn is by doing, and that’s what happened to me in one of my first times playing Pot Limit Omaha. With Pot Limit Omaha the pots will start small, and be restrained by the pot limit rules, but once the flop hits the pot can explode in size as players bet thinking that they’ve got great hands. This is natural as players want to maximize their winnings, but it can also be dangerous as the nuts can rapidly change. I discovered this lesson the hard way.

I was playing in a 10 player $20 home game of Pot Limit Omaha with the top three paying out. Despite this being one of my first times playing Pot Limit Omaha, I was doing well. I was playing tight and won a few hands so that I was sitting third in chips when I got into the hand that knocked me out of the game. In that hand I was holding A-J-10-9, with the Ace and 10 being of the same suit, giving me a large number of draws to a great hand. Suits aren’t important for the rest of this hand, so I have declined to list them. The flop came down almost perfect for me, 7-8-9, giving me the nuts straight. I bet out, and was raised the pot by my opponent who was holding the largest chip stack in the game at the time. I raised pot when the action got back to me, and that forced the few players who called my bet before the raise to drop out of the hand. My opponent called and we went to the turn, which came down a J. Seeing as most of my chips were already in the pot at this time I pushed all-in and my opponent called. He showed Q-J-10-9 for almost the same hand I did, but the jack on the turn gave him a higher straight. The river was a blank and I was eliminated from the game.

This example shows how quick the best hand can change in a game of Omaha and how likely it is to occur. With more cards, there are more ways to make big hands, and more cards that give big hands to the players. While I had the best hand on the flop, I should have been more cautious with that flop as it would have been easy for three consecutive cards to become four to a straight and give somebody a chance for a higher straight. My mistake was pumping up my bet on the flop and creating a big pot I could not get away from. In this hand, that mistake was fatal as my opponent also had the nuts, but he ended up having the only nuts after the turn, when my straight became normal and fell from the lofty position of being the nuts. It is wise to keep the pot size controllable in Omaha, because the board can fell even the mightiest hands with ease.

My play would have been acceptable in a game of Texas Holdem, because with only two cards I would’ve known that my opponent would have to get very lucky to beat me, as I held the nuts and was ahead of my opponent unless he could tie me, in which case it would end up a split pot. But in Omaha, with more cards and more chances for destruction, my hand turned to dust. I have learned from this mistake and make sure to consider all future cards when making my bets and raises, as those future cards can change the fate of your hand even easier than they can in Holdem.


How To Properly Adjust Your Poker Game To The Table

Adjust to the Table

In poker a person must pay a lot of attention to their opponents to find out how their opponents are playing and how to take advantage of them. Poker players must find out which players are loose, which players are tight, which players are dangers, and which players are suitable to be targets. I played in a $5 No Limit Texas Holdem Sit and Go on Full Tilt Poker recently which shows just how important knowledge is.

I played very few hands in the first couple of hands so that I could observe my opponents. There were two loose-aggressive players to my immediate left, along with a maniac three seats to my right. I identified the rest of the players as ones who mostly played their cards, but with little regard preflop to what their opponents held. I prefer to play an aggressive style of play in the low blind levels, but with the two loose-aggressive players to my left, I didn’t want to call with hands that gave me chances for a big hand but were far behind the other hands in play, because there was a good chance that a player to my left would raise and force me to fold. This led me to playing a very tight game, but I was able to pick up a few wins here and there and keep a respectable stack in front of me.

Another reason why my stack stayed level with my competitor during this portion of the sit and go was that the maniac on my right seemed to believe that only two buttons existed, fold and all-in. He would frequently pick up the blinds and whatever calls were made before the action reached him, so most of the action ended up taking place in the hands he decided to fold.

My opponents gave me respect for my tight play, but hadn’t yet seen any of my hands as none of my wins ever made it to a showdown. This kept uncertainty in their minds of whether or not I truly had good hands or just had a talent for picking my spots. We were down two players when my patience and tight play paid off. I looked down to find pocket aces in early position. The player before me folded and I raised the pot to my standard of 3x the big blind.

One of the loose-aggressive players reraised and the short stack at this time called the reraise for about half his stack. The action came back to me. Pocket aces aren’t nearly as good against two opponents as they are against one opponent, but I felt that I needn’t worry too much. I was pretty sure that the player to my left had a high pocket pair while the shortstack had a pocket pair or high cards. I decided to push the rest of my stack into the pot, as I had the short stack easily covered while I was pretty sure I was dominating my other opponent, who had about 100 chips more than me. They both called. My instincts were good, as the player to my left held pocket jacks and the short stack held K-Q suited. The board was completely unremarkable, and I won the hand.

This is a good example of how to adjust to a table. I normally play an aggressive style, but had to scale back because there were a couple of loose-aggressive players to my left. I patiently waited for good hands and made them count. Finally I received a hand with which I broke the back of one of the loose-aggressives and eliminated another player. While my opponent did have what would’ve been a good hand under normal circumstances, the fact that I had been playing tight and raised from early position for the first time the entire game should’ve been a tip off. However, thanks to his nature I knew I could capitalize and I did.

Adjusting to your table is one of the most key aspects of being a good poker player. There are thousands of examples of why this is so. Hopefully this example will give you a little something to ponder and improve your game a little.


Deuce – Seven Triple Draw Poker Common Mistakes

Mistakes to Avoid in Deuce to Seven Triple Draw

Deuce to Seven Triple Draw can seem like a complicated game at times, and it is. Even professional players will spend a lot of time dwelling on hands they played in Deuce to Seven Triple Draw because there are so many options; hence, professional players are constantly critiquing their play.

However, we are not going to get into anything overly complicated in this article. Instead, we are going to focus on three mistakes that beginning Deuce to Seven Triple Draw players should avoid.

Mistake #1: The Straight and Drawing Towards It

Straights are extremely bad hands to have in Deuce to Seven Triple Draw, but sometimes players just see five low cards and don’t realize that their hand is a straight and a very bad hand. However, it is fairly easy to avoid holding a straight in your hand unless you drew it on the final draw simply by paying attention. One of the other big mistakes pertaining to straight is drawing one card with a hand such as 3-4-5-6. This is an open-ended straight draw, so the only hand that can reasonably help your hand is an 8. A 2 or a 7 will give you the straight, and you are unlikely to win with a 9 low hand, although it is possible. Watching out for the straight is simple; watching out for the straight draw is a bit more difficult, but if you pay attention, you should be fine.

Mistake #2: The Ace Low Hand

This is another mistake that can be avoided simply by paying proper attention to the game. Aces are ALWAYS high in Deuce to Seven Triple Draw, so a hand like A-2-3-4-6 is actually a very bad hand. This mistake is most commonly made by players who also play Ace to Five Lowball, as the games are very similar. To reiterate the point, pay attention and you can avoid embarrassing mistakes like these.

Mistake #3: I’ve Got Three Draws, I Can Play Any Hand I want

Wrong! As in all other poker games, it is essential to play tight in Deuce to Seven Triple Draw. The majority of winning hands will be 8-low or 7-low, and that is what you want to be aiming for the whole time. If you’re planning on drawing more than two cards, you should actually be folding. This means that you should have at least three cards with a value of 8 or lower in your hand after the deal if you want to play the hand. By playing a tight game you will improve your odds and also gain the respect of the table, making it a little easier to bluff. Just remember that you should bluff very little, if at all, as players are always watching out for the bluff in Deuce to Seven Triple Draw.

These are a few common mistakes to avoid in Deuce to Seven Triple Draw. Sharpen your game, practice a lot, and hopefully you will find yourself a winner.


HORSE Tournament Strategy

Beginning a HORSE Tournament

Players always try to make as many chips in their best games in HORSE, and this usually leads to a lot of early action, especially in Limit Texas Holdem. This is why I recommend laying low in Limit Texas Holdem for the first couple rotations while the players who bump up the action are still in play. Typically these players will be eliminated from the tournament fairly quickly because they will be weak in the other games.

You should play very tight in the first couple rounds of Limit Holdem and in the other games you should build your chip stacks at the expense of the other players, most likely the ones who were playing very aggressively in Limit Holdem. Hopefully you are skilled at a couple games besides Texas Holdem, because if you aren’t you probably shouldn’t be playing in a HORSE tournament.

As the blinds go up and the games rotate, you should begin to see the Holdem players start to fall out of the game, beginning in the second run-through of the HORSE rotation, especially during the Holdem section. There will be some short stacks at this time and with the chip stack you hopefully have built by this time you can easily take some out provided lady luck doesn’t spit in your face.

Once the second rotation is done you should have a very healthy chip stack from sniping at the weak and the short stacked. You can then approach the HORSE tournament as any other tournament, playing your top game and building your chip stack while taking out the weak. This approach should hopefully let you cruise right into the money.

Try this method out the next time you play in a HORSE tournament. With a bit of luck and well-directed skill, you can find yourself placing in the money.


Omaha Poker Mistakes

Omaha Mistakes

Players new to the game of Omaha make some very common mistakes. This article is to inform you about some of these mistakes so that you can learn to avoid them. Read on and hopefully your Omaha game will improve.

I have four cards not two, so I can play just about any hand?

This belief is very common among new Omaha players and it is an idea that is totally and completely wrong. Tight play is always the way to go, and that includes Omaha. With the variety of starting hands available in Omaha, the best way to decide what to play is to look for what draws you have in your hand, as Omaha is a game where the winning hands frequently end up being straights and flushes. The way I play is that I have to have a minimum of three different ways to draw a big hand if I play my hand. For example I could have two suited cards and two different ways to make straights and that would be a playable hand for me. Pocket pairs also count as a way to draw, as when you have a pocket pair you are really hoping for a full house. Also in Omaha, the size of the pocket pair actually matters very little, due to the large number of strong winning hands in Omaha. Play tight. If you find yourself playing more hands in Omaha than you are in Holdem you should probably further restrict your playing hand requirements, as you will usually have to have the best hand to win in Omaha, especially when playing at lower stakes.

What? I’m playing Hi/Lo?

This is another mistake that I see frequently, and is one that should never happen. Players forget whether they are playing Omaha or Omaha Hi/Lo, and as a result play differently than they would have if they knew what game they were playing. For instance, A player sees that he has a qualifying low hand and plays that only to find out at the showdown that it was Omaha Hi, not Omaha Hi/Lo. Or a player plays their high hand only to see a split pot at the end because they forgot it was Omaha Hi/Lo. Luckily, this mistake can be easily remedied simply by staying aware. Also, most players who make this mistake won’t make it more than a few times, as it is one of the more embarrassing mistakes to make.

I have a straight, but I’m only using one of my hole cards?

This is one of the classic Omaha mistakes: Forgetting that you must use two hole cards, no more, no less. Say the flop and turn come 6-7-9-10. A player who has a hand of A-K-K-8 sees the board and gets excited because he has a straight. He bets heavily on the turn, the river is a 2, and he believes that he’s won the hand when his opponent shows a hand of A-Q-10-10. He starts to take the pot only to be stopped by their opponent saying that they’ve won with trip 10s to beat the pair of kings. Like I said before, this mistake is classic, and everyone who’s played Omaha for any length of time will have seen somebody make this goof. The best way to avoid this mistake is to train your mind to remember that you MUST use two of your hole cards. Remember to tell yourself this during every hand you play and looking for the two cards you are using will become second-nature to you.

These are just a few mistakes that beginners frequently make in Omaha. Train yourself to avoid these mistakes, because once you have that discipline, you can concentrate more on the strategy of Omaha and become a threat to your opponents.


Tactics on Playing Ace-King

Playing Ace-King in Poker

Ace-King is one of the most difficult hands for new players to play, as they have a tendency to get enamored with the high cards offered by Ace-King but ignore how low the odds are to win. Ace-King is a good starting hand, but it doesn’t have a significant advantage on hands other than lower aces and lower kings.

Preflop play is very important when playing Ace-King, perhaps more so than with other hands. If you are the first player in the pot, you should always raise with Ace-King. This will give you a good idea of where your hand sits. Optimally everyone will fold and you will win the hand here.

If another player raises you will have some decisions to make. This is where your position becomes important. If you are playing in early position you should strongly consider folding. You will not have the advantage of acting last after the flop and your hand is not likely to be significantly more powerful than your opponent’s unless your opponent is typically loose and would reraise with A-Q or some similar hand. If you act after your opponent you can call and see how they react to the flop. However, if one of your opponents raises and there are numerous callers and possibly even more raisers, get out of the hand immediately. There is absolutely no justification for playing Ace-King with so many people in the pot.

After the flop you must play your opponent first and your cards second. If you act first and the flop is unremarkable you should bet to get a gauge on your opponent. Hopefully he will fold, but if he calls you should play cautiously and check the rest of the hand unless you hit an Ace or a King. In that case you must play your opponent and try to put him on a hand. If you act last and your opponent checks to you, then you should bet out. Chances are he will fold, but if he calls or raises you, be prepared to fold. If you hit an Ace or King on the flop you should bet out, but be very mindful of the board and your opponent’s actions, in case he’s on a draw or flopped two pair or a set.

I’ve outline a lot of different situations here, and they can get confusing at times. However, they all boil down to one thing principle: Play Ace-King cautiously, but do not hesitate to try and force your opponents to fold when you get the chance. Ace-King is not a stellar starting hand as it needs to improve, and it does not have a significant advantage over most hands. Play cautiously.