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$2500 Pot-Limit Omaha Hand

so last weekend i played in a PLO bar game, the first time that i've played PLO in a while. I used to love playing it, but that particular game started to get too big because even though it was 1/2, people could double-straddle on the button for $10 and that made the game huge. They've since removed that, so i thought as a change of pace i'd give it a shot.

i sat down with $300 and over the course of the evening was able to turn that into roughly $1200. Most of the players on the table were merely okay players and were fairly predictable. One player was of slightly higher skill than the others, but he also was fairly predictable.

And then there's the bar owner. He's the one person on the table who i labeled as dangerous. He plays poker all over and is an incredibly skilled hyper-aggressive omaha player. Whereas most of the table only ever bet when they had a made hand that they wanted to protect, he was the only one who would ever really push aggression on made hands, strong draws, medium draws, and flat out bluffs. I did some of that too, but not to the degree that he did - once he developed a stack of $500+, his preflop raising percentage was close to 80% on every hand - not just hands that he was in, but every hand that was dealt.

We had gotten in a couple of tussles earlier in the evening, i think we both made hero calls on a couple of hands where it was clear that the other was semi-bluffing. He definitely respected my play, and with one or two exceptions leading to the big hand, i think that i played some pretty solid omaha.

When my stack hit $1200, i got involved in a huge hand that ended up being roughly a $2500 pot. It went like this:

i was in the small blind. There were maybe two limpers in the hand before the bar owner (hereafter "villain") raised to $20. It folded to me. I looked down and saw JJ3x, diamond-suited. I called, as did the big blind (hereafter "nit").

Flop comes QcJc7h. I decide to lead out for $30. Nit calls. Villain raises to $70. I pause and think about it. His range of raising is very wide. I want to be able to protect my hand, especially since i'm out of position. Eventually i raise to $175.

Nit starts to tank. He has conflicting body language - a part of him wants to make a move, either call or shove all-in, and the other part of him wants to fold. He's not one to hollywood on a hand, so i'm fairly confident that i'm ahead of him - he either has a strong draw or he has 77 with a strong draw. Eventually he makes a pseudo-reluctant all-in for the rest of his stack, roughly $450.

Villain rolls his eyes a little but otherwise doesn't put out any other information. He thinks for a good minute or so and then shoves all-in for roughly $1000.

I stand up and start thinking about it. Against anyone else on the table, i fold because no one else on the table makes a move like that unless they have QQ at the least, QQ with a flush draw and wrap draw at most. But against this guy, it's not as clear. I put him on three hands - QQ with a flush or stronger draw, 77 with a flush or stronger draw, or QJ with a flush or stronger draw. There's a small possibility that he's playing QQ with no redraw, but that was the least likely scenario. But i do know from having played with him enough that he would shove in any of those scenarios.

I ended up calling the hand. At the time i did it because there were more hands that i put him on and a higher overall probability in which i was ahead, and only one situation in which i was an absolute dog. But in retrospect, i'm now pretty confident that calling was the wrong choice, mainly because i had absolutely no redraw. If the board was QcJc10x and i had the nut straight but no redraw, that would be a tough but correct fold to make, and i think that that also applies to this hand. In the case where he has QQ with a strong draw, i'm looking at 2 outs that will make me improve. In the case where he has QJ or 77 with a strong draw, he's not that far behind me with a worst-case scenario of at least 15 cards that could improve his hand and beat me vs me only having three outs (a 7) or a runner runner pair to improve my hand, and if i put either Nit or Villain on 77 with the draw, then the number of outs i have left is one.

It was a key hand and a good lesson that will stick with me. I know that there are times when you have to fold a flopped straight to strong aggression because there are strong drawing hands that are ahead of the made hands, and this was one of those make or break situations for large money that if i thought it through would have made it clear that folding was a better option, mainly because of the lack of redraw.

For the sake of completion, Nit had 910Kx with the King high flush draw and villain had QQ with the nut flush draw. He assured me that against any other player he would have folded, but against him as a player it was a borderline call or fold. I think he meant it and wasn't trying to hollywood me exactly, but i think he stated that with the assumption that i would put him on a much wider range, a set with no redraw or two pair with a weak draw, and part of the motivation for the shove was an isolation bet. But even though he's fairly hyper aggressive preflop and is aggressive post-flop for smaller money, when he's getting the money in like that against a Nit and against me, i definitely put him on that narrower range - i just didn't stop to think what it actually meant for my own action.

So it was somewhat disappointing because the money that i had built up had given me a rate of roughly $250/hr, and then i lost it all and went home with a =$300, but aside from that hand i think i still played solidly and could really profit from that game now that it's more within a comfortable range of my bankroll. I don't know if i want to play that game weekly - maybe once every month and a half or so. Even if you play Omaha pretty well, it's a pretty high-risk game, and given how much better i think i've gotten at no-limit hold 'em, i think that's a better game for me currently for long term expectation, especially at the Harrah's New Orleans casino which is one of the more aggressive 1/2 games in the country.

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