As the World Series powers on towards its conclusion results for the British contingent have been a little hard to come by, to say the least. Reading various blogs and reports it seems our troops are having a tough time of it, but, as always when the going gets tough........one or two hero's emerge.
Notable success include final table appearances by Julian Gardiner, Stuart Fox, Nick Gibson and some Irish bloke..err.. Porridge Parkinson? (ok its Padriag). So well done to those guys and also a big congratulations to our only major success (so far) John Gale - winner of the $2500 buy in Pot Limit Holdem event. I have come across John on several occasions at various events and whilst I don`t know him personally he has always struck me as steady (read: cool under pressure) type of player, and a gentleman to boot.
Along with his $374,849 he also collects a coveted WSOP gold bracelet, oh, and just for the record John's no stranger to big wins. He already has, if my memory serves me correctly, several titles and a WPT win to his credit.
The major dream of all poker players though is undoubtedly the main event and despite the many setbacks they`ve battled through so far that dream for now at least is very much alive.
With TV work a little quite, I`m still pursuing my main occupation as a travelling pro player but, the weathers so good and the computers so close that sunbathing and online play from my balcony have taken over for the moment. Fear not though I have trips to Luton, Stoke and Brighton planned in the next few weeks so there will be reports on those events in the next column.
And now, as promised, the start of my short series on playing pot limit Omaha, this week we will concentrate on a few basic principles after a brief overview of the game.
Omaha, like regular Hold`em has a starting hand dealt to each player followed by a round of betting, then a flop (three community cards exposed in the centre of the table), another betting round, a forth card exposed (turn), another betting round, one final card (river), and then a final betting round. The difference between Omaha and Hold`em is that at Omaha the player receives four cards instead of the regular two at Hold`em. From the four cards the player receives he/she must use two of those cards. I`ll repeat that. A player must use two of those cards, plus three from the community cards on the board to make his/her best five card poker hand. Players cannot "play the board" and cannot just choose to use only one card from the hand, along with four from the board. Here are a couple of examples to clarify the mistakes made by inexperienced Omaha players.
Ah As Jc 10d
Kh Qh 7h 3h 3c
In this case the player does not have a flush because he cannot use the lone ace of hearts with the four hearts on the board. He does not have a straight because he cannot use three cards from his hand with two from the board. So what does he have? In this example it is "Aces up". That is to say, two aces from his hand, and two three`s from the board with the King kicker also from the board.
In my next example see if you can work out what each players best hand is.
As Kh 10d 9d
Qd Qh 7d 6d 6c
Qc Jc 8h 8s
Who wins this pot?
Answer: Player A.
Player A makes a Queen high diamond flush using the Queen of diamonds, seven of diamonds and six of diamonds from the board with the nine and ten of diamonds in his hand. Player B`s best hand is "trips" - in this case three Queens using the two queens from the board plus the 7 of diamonds along with the Queen & Jack from his own hand.
It may take some time for you to be able to work out the best hands correctly, so I suggest this as your first lesson to practice. It is absolutely vital that you are able to work out the best hand available to both yourself and your opponent or opponents at any given time.
So to quickly recap, you cannot play the board, you cannot play one or three cards from your hand, you must at all times use exactly two cards from your hand and three from the board. The above examples should give you the general idea of the basic principles of the game of Omaha.
Now let`s take a look at what type of hands we are trying to make and how they compare in value to Holdem. Hands that are winners at holdem are quite often "dogs" in Omaha. The hands I`m talking about are "top pair, Big kicker,", "an over pair", in fact one pair has to be very lucky to win at Omaha. "Bottom two pairs" and also "Top and bottom pairs" are also high on the trouble list. So what type of hand are you actually trying to make? Well as a novice player I suggest you need to flop at least "top two", a "set or trips" or have a multiway hand that is drawing to a big straight or nut flush. The ideal Omaha hand is one that combines a made hand with several chances to improve with a re-draw.
You may make the mental error of thinking that there are twice as many card combinations afforded by a four card hand. In fact, there are actually six times as many card combinations and the more of these combinations you can get to work the stronger and more potential the hand will have on a favourable flop. In most instances in the game of Omaha it is necessary to "hit" the flop to continue playing the hand unless you pick up a monster draw. Here is a very important point to bear in mind, even when you flop top trips you may not be favourite to win the pot over someone with a massive drawing hand !
Well that's all for now, so practice reading the board correctly and in my next column we will move on to what type of starting hands to look for to become a winner at Pot limit Omaha.
Until next time stay safe, play well and enjoy your poker,