Sample Hand of Omaha

Let's now take a look at how a sample hand of Omaha might proceed. Even though a beginner s hould not p lay i n a high-stakes game, let's make the example more fun by assuming we're playing $30- $60-limit Omaha: eight people are at the table, l isted here in clockwise order:

Andy is s iiting to the left of t he button and thus must post the $15 small blind.

Bob is s itting on Andy's left, so he posts t he $30 big blind.

Chuck, Dave, Ed, F rank, a nd George come next and wiil act in that order.

Hal i s t he final player at t he t able, a nd he holds t he button for this hand.

Four cards are dealt out to each of the eight players, the first card going to Andy in the small blind, the l ast c ard dealt t o Hal on the button (the cards are dealt one at a time). Chuck, t he first to take action, l ooks at his c ards, s ees that he has a strong starting hand, V-V_0-\, and decides to raise the existing bet ($30) t o $60. ( In poker s lang this would often be called "making it $60 to go.")

Dave, Ed, Frank, and George al decide to fold, but Hal, who has V - Vd ecides t o call the $60 on t he button. ( Call ing a raised pot, without having yet made any investment in it, is often referred to as "calling two bets cold.") Andy, who already

K k has $15 i n the pot because he posted the s mall b lind, h olds * -0-| and puts in $45 more to call t he $60. Bob, who has already invested $30 in the big blind, and holds -_V - also calls the $60 by putting in $30 more. ( By the way, I 'm going to withhold, until the chapter on strategy, all comment about whether or not these raising and calling decisions, as weH as the ones that follow, a re good decisions.)

With four players s tiil in t he hand, t he dealer t urns up a flop of

11

3

A

*

. Let's take another l ook at t he players' hands and see how they fit this flop.

Andy:0-0-0-0 His pair of kings, which were never much of a threat to win a four-way pot without improving, are now almost certainly losing to someone who has an ace in his hand, although because Andy can't see the other player's cards, he can't b e sure about t his. S tiil, Andy retains s ome i nterest i n the hand, because he has the and 0 in his hand and two diamonds have flopped. This gives him a chance to make the second-best possible flush (called the "second-nut" flush).

Bob:_V -_V Bob likes this flop a lot, because he has the ' 'nut" (best possible) flush draw. If another diamond comes up on the turn or the river, he wiil make a strong hand, and, though he can't know it, he i s likely to collect a number of bets from Andy, whose second-nut flush would wind up costing him a lot o f money. But that's not a ll. Bob also has a pair of aces and an inside straight draw (often called a "gutshot" straight draw); if a jack hits the board, Bob's queen and ten wiil give him an 8-9-10-J-Q straight.

This was a pretty nice starting

Chuck:

A

pn

rn

in

*

hand, with four connected high cards and two possibilities for a flush, and Chuck has hit a monster draw: his (0-V gives him not merely a flush draw but also an open-ended straight-flush draw: i f either \ or 0 hits t he board, Chuck is going to make a lot of money, e specially from Bob, who is going to think his ace-high flush is "the nuts" until r oughly the moment when Chuck reraises him for the third time. Chuck also has an open-ended straight draw—any queen or seven wiil give him a straight. (Unless he can make the straight flush, he'l be much better off making a straight than a flush, because his jack-high flush would lose to two other players.) Chuck also has a pair of aces with a king kicker, which at the moment is the best hand, but there i s a low probability that t his wiil win the hand, b ecause, i f he makes two pairs—aces up—then someone else wiil make a stronger hand. I f ^ ( the only king l eft) hits t he board, Chuck wiil h ave aces and kings, but the same king wiil give Andy three kings. I f a j ack hits the board, Bob makes a straight. I f a ten hits the board, Hal makes a straight. Chuck would need two perfect c ards in a row for his ace to be useful: the l ast two aces in the deck would give Chuck three aces, which would win if no one makes a straight or a flush. So he has plenty to think about, and he doesn't know what's out there facing him.

Hal:- T^-y| Hal has " 'hit the flop" j ust well e nough to get into trouble. He has a pair of nines, but—more important— he has an open-ended straight draw by using his ten, j ack, and queen. A seven, a ten, a j ack, or a queen wiil give Hal a straight.

If it seems as though there are a lot of possible ways for each player t o win (or lose) out there, you're right. Welcome to Omaha.

Because everyone s tiil in the hand has a "piece" of this flop (meaning it has either i mproved all f our of t hem or given them all at l east some reasonable drawing possibility or other), e ven though those pieces are all draws rather than made hands, the betting action is likely to be anywhere from very cautious to very aggressive, depending on the playing styles of t he people i n the game.

Andy now has the first betting option (he "acted" first as wefl in the first round by posting the small blind), and because his flush draw is not a nut-flush draw, he checks. Bob, who does have the nut-flush draw, decides to bet $30. Chuck, who nearly jumped out of his seat when he saw the possibility of an open-ended straight-flush draw, pauses t o think. He has a s trong draw, but it i s only a draw at t his point, and he'd like t o collect l ots of bets from everyone if he hits his miracle straight flush, s o he j ust calls. Hal and Andy also call, meaning that the pot i s now $360

($60 each before t he flop and $30 each on the flop).

The turn card proves to be the giving flushes to Andy, Bob, and Chuck. Andy, with a king-high flush, d ecides t o bet $ 60 (remember, t he stakes have now doubled). Bob, who knows he has the best hand at the moment and would like to either drive out anyone who might have three of a kind or at least make it expensive for such a player to draw, raises it to $120.

Chuck has a j ack-high flush, b ut the bet and then the raise have him concerned. Stiil, t he chance that his j ack-high flush might be the winner, combined with the hope that he might hit a miracle card for his straight flush, entices him to call t he $120.

Hal's open-ended straight draw has not improved, and everyone else seems very happy to see a third diamond on the board. Hal decides that he might be "drawing dead"—that i s, h e could hit his i deal c ard and stiil l ose—so he folds.

Andy considers a reraise but remembers the old saying that "if it's possible in Omaha, i t wiil probably happen," so he decides j ust t o call. With another $360 going i nto the pot on the turn, the pot now totals $720.

The river produces the ^ , putting a pair on the board and thus making flushes vulnerable to full houses ( or even four of a kind). Andy checks, Bob bets $60, and Chuck decides that his jack-high flush is probably no good. ( Before the l ast c ard, Chuck wasn't s ure that his flush was good, but now, with a full house possible, he i s r eally convinced that he i s beat.) I f he felt he could contest t he pot for j ust $60, he might c all, b ut h e figures t here's a chance Andy could be thinking about check-raising. Chuck folds.

Andy isn't thriiled with his hand, but t here is now $780 in the pot, and he doesn't have the problem Chuck had—needing to worry that h e might have to invest s tiil more money to find out i f his hand is the winner. So Andy calls ( he calls $60 to try to win $780).

Bob's ace-high flush wins the pot, a surprise ending to most Omaha players who hold a flush on the turn and then see the board pair on the river. Bob rakes in the $840 pot and breathes a sigh of relief. Chuck silently curses his "bad luck" in having failed to make his straight flush but simultaneously congratulates himself for saving $60 on the end with his losing hand. Andy reminds himself for the thirty-seventh time this month about the danger of drawing to non-nut flushes in limit Omaha, and the dealer slides t he button over t o Andy, who wiil g et to act last on the next hand.

You've now had a brief introduction to how and when cards get dealt in Omaha, and you have a sense of how a hand proceeds. The much more difficult part— why you should check, bet, call, raise, or fold at e ach j uncture—will be addressed in Chapter 9.

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