So day nine was the $1500 Omaha 8 event. Had to do a separate post on that one, since I played in it!
I have very little real experience with O8. I have played LL cash games in order to get advanced seating in tournaments, stuff like 3/6 with a kill. I played about 100 O8 tourneys in 2003 and early 2004, but they were crazy. $25 buy-in, unlimited rebuys the first hour, then the whole shebang went to no-limit for the duration.
Naturally I got good at winning these tourneys because I adjusted and the people playing had no idea what Omaha was all about (“Now, I can use two, three or four of my cards?” “If I have three hearts in my hand and two on the board, is that still a flush?”). I was mostly playing with tourists, so you know what I mean.
Anyway, getting back to the O8. I had won a Stud satellite, so since I already had lammers for my Stud buy-in, I decided to use the lammers for the O8 buy-in, knowing that the structure would help out a rock like me.
The structure was fantastic. It was the one used in the old days of the WSOP, so slow it was almost like a cash game. We started with 3000 chips and the blinds were only 25/25 for an hour, then 25/50, 50/75, 50/100, 75/150, etc. During the whole tourney, I never had to go all-in once, even though I was close on the river a couple of times when we were up to 300/600.
The way I decided to play this tourney was so vastly different than any other tourney I’ve ever played.
Early on, I looked at the competition, which included some very strong players like Max Pescatori, Thor Hansen, Shadow, Charlie Shoten and Dr. Max Stern, who was on my right.
Stern raised my blind so often that it was almost a mandatory raise if he was the button and I was the SB, or he was the SB, I was the BB. Stern was very aggressive, rarely limping in, mostly raising. Later, at the final table, he was seated to my direct left, which was worse, because I could never limp in. To his left was Shoten, then Max Pescatori. Yipes, I never saw a flop for less than 3 bets!
Since I hadn’t played O8 in about seven months, my skills were rusty. I did play in a sat the day before, to brush up on looking at, and memorizing my hole cards again.
Having Max on my right (at our first table) made me almost immediately decide to change my strategy. Since I knew that eventually I was going to misread my hand anyway, I figured I’d play it up, put on an act, to make it seem like I’d never played O8.
Lots of times, if I had a lot of low cards, and there four or five low cards on board, I had difficulty figuring out if my low was counterfeited under pressure. So instead of trying to look like I knew what I was doing, I went the total opposite direction and tried to look like a bimbo.
I would lay my cards face up and say things like, “I’m not sure if my low is any good. Do I even have a low? I do know that I have a small straight for high!”
I also got into a very, very passive calling mode. When I absolutely knew I had the pot one-way, unshared, I would raise, but the rest of the time I simply called, called, called when I was in a hand. I only raised or folded if I was absolutely certain about the fate of my hand, and I was only mistaken once when I split the A2 with Stern, early in the tourney (I thought I was scooping the low).
Playing this way, I was never the chip lead, but I did make it to the final table in fair shape (6000 chips with 150/300 blinds).
I played so tight and passive that I would get blinded down a while, then either scoop or split a big, multi-way pot and get back to even or chip up. Don’t get me wrong though, I was much more aggressive on the turn or river when I knew that I had a top hand. Likewise, one time I flopped a low flush when it was very shorthanded, and I knew my flush was good, so I bet and raised the whole way, getting called by an opponent who declared that he wasn’t even sure I knew I had the flush, much less that he knew it (my act worked well, lol).
The other players felt so sorry for me that we made a save when it was down to four, that fourth place would get his/her money back. We all expected it would be me, as I was the shortest stack by far at that point. Instead, Charlie Shoten went from chip lead to out in just a couple of hands, and suddenly we were in the money.
We played on for a while, but then I doubled up again, and suddenly we were all closer in chips, and the blinds were about to go up again. So we made a chip count deal, and I still got over 2k more than 3rd place, and not much less than the other two guys. So I ended up with a little over 7k, for a tourney that cost me only $165 to play in.
I have never tried the clueless act before, as I am usually the exact opposite at the table. I guess I’m a pretty good actor, because I pulled it off, and several people thought it was legitimate. It wasn’t completely a sham, because I did have a few hands I was unclear about.
I think that by not giving my opponents much information about my play, they were confused and made more mistakes against me. Of course, I made mistakes against me, too, lol. I gave them nothing, because I didn’t even give it to myself.
I remember at the final table, Max Stern and Max Pescatori got into a discussion about whether my act was real or fake. Pescatori thought it was real, Stern thought it was fake. I was sitting in between the two, and just let them argue on about it until the cows came home, like they were discussing baseball or something. Inside I was screaming with laughter, the whole thing was so absurd.
When we were discussing the deal, Wayne didn’t want to give me the chip count deal at first. He thought I would settle for 6k, since I was inexperienced at O8. I stood my ground, over and over again insisting on the chip count deal. Shadow was on my side in it, not just letting me dangle in the wind. I suppose Wayne figured he had more to lose than gain by refusing to give me the $7050, so he relented in the end. Heck, I would have played on, I’m not totally clueless!
Wayne has always been nice to me, fair. I’ve heard negative things about him before, but in my play against him he’s fine. Naturally he tried to pull a little switcharoo on me, to net himself another grand, but that is fine, that is all part of negotiation. It’s not unfair or cheating.
I remember in one tourney, the most experienced player tried to propose some kind of nutty deal where he would get most of the money, even though he was like 3rd in chips, and nowhere near the chip leader. The other players weren’t going for it, but he did try, and I don’t find a thing wrong with that. When he realized they weren’t going for it, he said something about being the best player at the table, with the most experience, and felt he was worth that figure. While I don’t necessarily think he was worth that much, I say more power to you, buddy. In the end, he got a lot more than his fair share. Some of that may have been because he proposed the absurd deal in the first place, then was willing to come down some, so the other players saw that as fair. It wasn’t really fair at all, and he knew it, but he got his way. The next day he and I discussed it, and he smiled that cat who ate the canary smile and said, “Wow, I really got the best of that deal, didn’t I? I can’t believe that the chip leader went for it!”
Nothing is wrong with these things. They aren’t unethical, nor was there any type of cheating going on. It does bother me, however, if someone proposes a deal, the chip lead declines, and the whole table goes on to badger him about it for hours. In between hands, during hands, etc. They just pounce on him, not allowing him to refuse the deal, not allowing him any peace. I think there should be a rule about these situations. They can truly get out of control, espcially in some of the medium to higher buy-in events. No one should have to endure that kind of abuse during a tournament endgame.
I feel really good about my play during the O8 tourney. It was partially a big act, but I’m good at acting, so that was okay. I also made myself look stupid many times, which I don’t really care for, but which I realized worked for me in those situations, and I used to increase my overall EV.
Since I made 7k, I was able to pay my hotel bill at a win, not a loss. That always helps.
Shadow left after the Omaha event. He wanted to fly back to Montana to be with his family. I really missed him. I didn’t realize just how much until he was gone. He was another one of the fantastic guys I met, and profiled in other parts of this tale. One of the things that he kept saying to me was that I was underestimating my abilities, and/or running myself down sometimes. I had also heard this from a few other players at the Orleans. I just smiled and whispered, “Don’t you realize? It’s an act. If I can fool you guys, just think of all of the people who don’t know me at all, and are buying right into this.”
We have this strange belief that if you say something positive about yourself, you are bragging. If you say something negative, you have no self esteem and no confidence. That has always cracked me up about our culture. We aren’t suppsed to say we are good at something, yet we are not supposed to say we aren’t, either.
I know what my limitations are. I think it takes extreme self confidence to know them, and to admit them. Knowing where I lack only shows my ability to admit my weaknesses, and the self esteem to be able to say it with surety.
So in the end, I think the tourney turned out well, I think I played well, making the most of my ignorance of O8, and I once again got to talk to some great people. Max Stern was awesome, Charlie was always right there for me, Pescatori was great to play against, I stood up to Wayne. Pretty decent day!