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.