Monday, February 15, 2010

Grist for the Guru Mill

The Guru called this weekend to chastise me about my last PokerBug post. Specifically, he took me to task for writing that TJ Cloutier doesn't believe in raising in Omaha preflop (PF). He said that some of his students have read my post and are incorrectly using that information. Here's what I wrote:

"BTW, Cloutier almost never raisies PF in PL Omaha because, unlike hold'em, there he says you usually can't get other people to fold and there is no reason to build a pot preflop; the pots easily grow to full stack size without risking getting too much in PF."

This statement is taken directly from what TJ writes in the book "Championship Omaha." He has Pro Tips sprinkled throughout the book, and this was one of those tips. Further, Tom McEvoy is also quoted in the same book saying the same thing, plus TJ writes that Lyle Berman also doesn't believe in PF raising in Omaha. In the book, all three of these Omaha pros advocate a relatively passive PF strategy in Omaha tournaments.

I'm obviously not an expert at Omaha (yet), and I'm just repeating what TJ, McEvoy, and others have written, but they did write these things, so I'm not going to dismiss them out of hand.

Okay, that said, the Guru does have a point. Firstly, Championship Omaha is about Tournament Omaha, not Cash. In cash games, there clearly is a need for aggressive play PF, especially in later position. Even in tournament play, as the blinds escalate, you will have to steal to stay ahead of the curve. In addition, in poker you have to give action to get action, so you will have to raise occasionally to disguise your hands, and to get paid off when you do have monsters. Also, Capelleti's point system reinforces the idea of PF aggression, with point totals that he directly recommends raising with. The Guru also points out that the game of Omaha has evolved a lot in recent years, and that selective aggression is now absolutely a requirement, both in cash and tournaments, whereas twenty five years ago (i.e., when Championship Omaha was written) it may have been preferable to play a more passive, post-flop game.

In Poker, there are no absolutes. Saying "never raise" PF in Omaha is silly, just like saying "always open raise" in Hold'em is ridiculous. The bottom line: It Depends.

Now, to change the subject, a few weeks ago the Guru asked his students to provide examples of bluffs they've run. I forgot about this request, but yesterday I ran a nice bluff in $50NL fullring that is worth mentioning. A few hands earlier than this hand, I had won a small pot off this same opp when I turned over 98s from big blind, flopped an open-ender and flush draw, and then hit my flush against his (unknown) hand. About twenty hands prior to that, I sat down and posted a late blind, was dealt K5s, hit the second nut flush, and got a little money out of another opp. In other words, I had an image of playing suited cards.

Full Tilt No-Limit Hold'em, $0.50 BB (9 handed)

BB ($52.35)
UTG ($53.20)
UTG+1 ($46.40)
MP1 ($55.45)
MP2 ($24.75)
MP3 ($24.85)
CO ($44.60)
Hero (Button) ($50.60)
SB ($58.80)

Preflop: Hero is Button with Q, K
UTG calls $0.50, UTG+1 calls $0.50, MP1 bets $3, 3 folds, Hero calls $3, 3 folds, UTG+1 calls $2.50

{Note, folding here is probably the preferrable play, but I had the button and decided to play a little poker. Raising is also OK.}

Flop: ($10.25) K, 7, 8 (3 players)
UTG+1 checks, MP1 bets $6.50, Hero calls $6.50, 1 fold

{Top Pair, Good Kicker, ergo the call. Again, it's a little passive, but I almost was treating this as a float, and when the next card hit, I realized I could rep the hearts.}

Turn: ($23.25) 2 (2 players)
MP1 bets $10, Hero raises to $41.10 (All-In), 1 fold

Total pot: $43.25 | Rake: $2.15

Hero didn't show Q, K.
Outcome: Hero won $41.10

I didn't have any notes on the opp, but my PT3 HUD said he was playing tight-aggressive and seemed to know what he was doing. Remember, you can't bluff a bad player, but against a thinking opponent you sometimes can get away with things like this. At $10NL, you might not be able to pull this off, but at $50NL it seems like you can.

All-in for now...

No comments:

Post a Comment