So here is my less than earth shattering theory about limit Omaha 8 which every decent player already knows. The “theory” is situational, but it is one that happens all the time, every day, on every site.
It is regarding maximizing the wins of any given pot by playing in a deceptive or tricky manner.
Lots of us have played in the loosest, lowest limit games online. Whether we play at .01/.02 when we first start out, or dive right into something like .50/1, we see players who simply have no clue how to play Omaha 8.
I play in these games which regularly have six to eight players seeing every flop. I have found there are two ways to play these types of games in a reasonable manner. The first is to be aggressive and raise early, jamming with premium hands before the flop and until one believes he is beaten badly without enough of a chance to win at least half of the hand or get 100% return on his investment. We’ve all had those days. Raising pre-flop, hitting enough of the flop to keep leading, seeing a turn that probably still has us ahead, and being outdrawn both ways on the river. It happens all the time, every day, online and live, in every available limit that O8 is played.
Ray Zee has helped us conquer that hump, overcome the need to push hands that will eventually be losers if we jam all the way.
Soooo, where does this well known theory come into play? Well, it comes into play during every hand we play to showdown. It is a type of pot manipulation that is sometimes called the push and pull.
Okay, so say we are in a typical, loose/passive online game of low, fixed stakes. We are dealt something like AA24 with one of the aces suited. We have a frequent raiser on our right. He raises, and since we have so many players left to act behind us that we want in, we cold call only. Seven of us see the flop for two bets.
We flop our dream. Say it’s something like 35J with two of our suit. So this is clearly a betting and raising hand, in most circumstances, but then we see that we are in the position where many opponents will call one bet, but not two cold, and the majority of our opponents are to our left, not right.
So the ramming and jamming guys would ask, “So what?” They are thinking in terms of cutting down the field, increasing our chances of winning, putting in as many bets as possible. But are they correct or are they really only very slightly increasing their chances of winning, while letting go of many double turn and river calls?
I maintain that there are many players who will not call two flop bets cold, but will call one or two double sized bets later in the hand if they turn enough to keep them coming and only have to call one small bet on the flop. I further maintain that betting these guys out of the pot on the flop raise will only diminish our expected value later in the hand.
Playing the hand deceptively early on, convincing naive players and aggressive raisers that you have a hand not worthy of a raise, but that you are unsure of where you are in hand, and are simply calling along with the second or third best draw in any direction, is the way to more value when the pot is being pushed at the end of the hand.
And don’t go thinking that they have some kind of “aha” moment when your hand is shown down. I can state with conviction that they will continue to play their way, and bet into you over and over again, no matter how many times you “play along” with them, passively calling and overcalling until the bets double, or until the river, or even at showdown (if you are getting something like four or more overcalls versus maybe one call by the original bettor if you raise out immediately).
So here we are, with our monster hand. AA24, and the flop is 35J with two of our suit. The original raiser to our right bets out immediately, like we expected. We have a hand that is a clear favorite under almost any circumstances, but we can’t think of it like hold’em, we can’t think that we HAVE to raise, HAVE to narrow the field, HAVE to get it heads-up in order to give ourselves the best chance to win. Because we are NOT playing hold’em, and our hand will NOT get weaker with many opponents.
So we look for the overcalls. Hmm, five opponents left to act behind us, and we figure most or all of them will call one small flop bet, but not two. If we raise, we may get one overcall, as well as the original bettor, but we certainly won’t get FIVE. And after all, five overcalls puts seven more small bets into the pot. Yum yum, think of the equity we are getting in a scoop situation, or three-quarters. Why raise out the potential for about 20 big bets down the river, for only maybe 10 right now? We know how players get tied to a hand. We know players are lulled into thinking their second and third nut one-way hands must be good since Mr. “Rock-tight” only called along after the raiser on the flop and/or turn and/or river. We KNOW they will keep calling if they catch just enough to make them think they have a chance, however slight it might be. We see three guys raising and reraising with a lone A2 low and no chance at the high. Mindless, pointless raising when WE know they are being quartered or even worse. Literally throwing at least 25 cents on the dollar into the fireplace with every bet and raise. We know that, but the great thing is, THEY don’t! Even better, they never will. I have been playing with the same, low limit schlubs for the past few years online, and they simply don’t get better, they never learn. They cap with a bare A2 every time the low is possible, no matter HOW many other opponents have that same A2!
So there you have it. My theory. How to maximize the value of a potential scooping hand in low limit, passive Omaha 8.