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Classic Hand Match-Ups
More Omaha cash mayhem as Noel Hayes pitches some key confrontations in 6-max games.
This month we are going to examine some post-flop situations in a 6-max PLO game. More specifically I want to elaborate on the relative strength of hands and how important it is for you to spend some time learning and understanding just how strong your hand is post-flop and how you should proceed with this knowledge. I will also touch on how going multi-way to the flop and beyond can diminish your expected outcome.
I have mentioned in the past and I will do so again, PLO is a game of percentages – the differential in probability of winning a hand post-flop in PLO tends to be closer to the mean. Against a competent opponent you will rarely be a commanding favourite when you put your stack into the middle. On that basis it really helps to know how your hand matches up against specific types of holdings that your opponent may have.
One of the offshoots of this is that every percent counts and that is why I stress the importance of understanding your post-flop equity. You don’t have to turn into one of those nerds who can instantly rattle off the exact winning percentages once the flop is down but it will not harm you to keep a PLO odds calculator open on your desktop and get into the habit of plugging in hands throughout your session or in your post-session review.
Weaktight.com provides an excellent online resource which allows you to load hand histories and it will display them with card images and each player’s relative equity street by street. This is one of the easiest-to-use at-a-glance tools on the internet and I would urge readers to familiarize themselves with it.
I am going to show a few examples of hand match-ups and how strong they are against probable hands for your opponent to have. I would call these the classic examples of Pot Limit Omaha – if you have played more than a few hundred hands then you will have found yourself in spots like these.
Hand Matchup 1 – Top Set vs. Full Wrap
Your Hand (equity in brackets): Qh-Qc-2h-2d (44.8%) vs. Ks-Jc-8c-9s (55.2%).
Different board textures present different scenarios. There are two lessons here, firstly the holder of king-high needs to realise that he is a favourite over a hand as strong as top set and secondly the holder of top set needs to realise how vulnerable his hand is on a flop like this.
Neither player is making a mistake by putting all their money in on the flop and both should do so for similar reasons – maximizing their expectation before a potential scare card comes. If the board pairs the wrap closes down and if a 6,8,9,J,K,A or diamond falls then the holder of the set will tread more carefully.
Also the player with the set needs to remove uncertainty from later streets. He can not know his opponents exact holding, a scare card may fall on the turn leading him to make a mistake on a later street. Also if he peels the turn for a safe card then if a 3, 4 or 5 falls unless the board pairs on the river he can no longer have the nuts and may be bluffed off his hand by a thinking player.
Hand Matchup 2 – Top Set vs. Full Wrap & Flush Draw
Your Hand: Qh-Qd-2h-2d (40.1%) vs. Ks-Jc-8c-9s (59.9%).
This hand is very similar to the above, this time however we include a flush draw and a back door flush draw with the wrap. There is no need to expand further on this scenario than I have already, it is merely for illustration purposes.
Hand Matchup 3 – Top Set vs. Nut Straight
Your Hand: Ad-As-2c-2h (36.80%) vs. Kd-Qh-8s-8c (63.27%)
Top set is a mighty powerful hand and even against the made nuts it still holds a lot of power. In this unfortunate situation the holder of top set needs to consider the pot odds he is being offered.
In, say, a $1/$2 game with effective stacks of $200, there is a raise and a re-raise pre-flop and both players put in $80 each. On the flop the player with the nut straight pushes his remaining $120 into the pot of $160.
At this point the holder of top set must call $120 to win $280. Even if he can say with confidence that his opponent holds the nut straight then he should make the call as it has a positive expectation.
Hand Matchup 4 – Top Set + Nut Flush Draw vs. Nut Straight
Your Hand: Ac-As-2c-2h (62.9%) VS. Kd-Qh-8s-8c (37.1%)
With top set and the nut flush draw you are now in the realm of throwing the car keys into the middle of the pot! The holder of the nut straight should really consider peeling for a safe turn card in a spot like this, especially if more than one opponent is showing an interest in proceedings. His equity is diminished and he should also consider the possibility that he will end up splitting the pot.
Hand Matchup 5 – Nut Straight vs. Going Higher
Your Hand: As-Kd-3c-4h (49.51%) vs. 7d-8s-9c-10h (50.49%)
This is a very good hand example to help illustrate the vulnerability of the made nuts when the board offers a lot of draw potential to opponents.
Hand Matchup 6 – Nut Straight vs. Going Higher & Flush Draw
Your Hand: As-Kd-3c-4h (33.66%) vs. 7d-8s-9c-10s (66.34%)
Often people fall into the habit of playing PLO like a game of matching symbols. They flop the nuts and proceed to put hundreds of blinds into the middle as a big dog. Take a look at just how vulnerable your hand is!
The corollary to this is that if you are going higher with a flush draw then your hand is very strong in a heads-up situation. Matchup #8 shows how it gets all fuzzy once you go multi-way.
Hand Matchup 7 – The Power of Back Door Flush Draws
Compare these two scenarios:
YOUR HAND: 7d-8s-9h-10c (50.5%) vs. Ac-Kh-4h-3h (49.5%)
YOUR HAND: 7d-8s-9d-10s (56.5%) vs. Ac-Kh-4h-3h (43.5%)
Never ever discount the power of back door flush draws. Each one will offer you up to 3% additional equity in a hand. Remember I keep telling you that PLO is a game of close percentages and 3% for one back door flush draw or indeed 6% for two back door flush draws is a quality weapon to bring to a pot with you.
Matchup 8 – Let the Buyer Beware – How Going Multi-way Affects Your Equity
I played this hand recently and I remember it very well, not just because I sucked out on the river but because my principal opponent was “AJKHoosier1” – the #1 ranked online player in 2008. The percentages say all there is to say about this hand.
The game is $2/$4 PLO and the set-up was as follows:
Me: (Big Blind) $425; 6s-6c-3s-3h (44.7%)
“AJKHoosier1”: (UTG) $610; 7c-8d-9d-10s (20%)
Player3: (UTG+1) $235; Kd-9c-8c-7d (35.2%)
This should really open people’s eyes. We all know just how strong a hand like “AJKHoosier1”’s can be but just look how vulnerable it is once we go multi-way to the flop. His diamonds are dead and a lot of his straightening cards are covered by Player 3.
Pre-flop “AJKHoosier1” raised to $8, Player 3 called, the SB called and I complete from the BB. The flop came 6d 7s 2d. The equity values now read: Me: 47.4%; AJKHoosier1: 18.2%; Player3: 34.4%.
I checked, “AJKHoosier” bet $28, Player3 raised to $116, the SB folds, I re-pot and all three of us end up with our stacks in the middle. “AJKHoosier1” will have put his stack in the middle expecting to be in fantastic shape, but I doubt he felt he was worse than 40% for all the money. He has put his money in as a 4/1 dog. The turn 3d and the river 6h made me quads and I scooped the pot.