I traveled to Los Angeles recently to attend the L.A. Poker Classic, an annual affair at Commerce Casino. This tournament always features some of the best side action of the year, and this year was certainly no exception. There were several times when some clones would have come in handy, as I wanted to be in many games at once! After a week of play in the side games, there were obviously quite a few interesting decisions and hands that played out. In this column, though, I am going to discuss a decision in an Omaha eight-or-better pot that might seem relatively insignificant.
The game was $150-$300 Omaha eight-or-better, and the Bola88 table was quite loose. Some loose games also involve lots of raising, but this one was fairly passive, considering the limit we were playing. There was typically one or two bets preflop, with three or four players seeing the flop.
In this hand, the first two players folded, the next player limped in, and I called with A-2-2-J double-suited. Two others called behind me, as did both blinds, so we saw the flop sixhanded. The flop was 9-6-2 with two clubs and a spade, but all of my cards were red. Although I had flopped a set, there wasn’t too much to be excited about. Sets rarely win unimproved in multiway pots, and considering that my set was deuces, I could easily fill up and still lose.
The blinds checked and the initial limper bet. I was next, and opted to make a marginal call. I think you can make a legitimate case here for any of the three actions. I didn’t raise because this wasn’t a hand I wanted to commit lots of chips to at this point; also, if the turn was a high blank and the same player bet again, I would be in a position of more strength and could raise to protect my hand (all of the other players would be forced to call two bets cold). If the turn was a bad card, such as a low straight- or flush-completing card, I could cheaply fold. After I called, the two players behind me called, as did the big blind.
The turn card was the 6spades, filling me up and putting two flush draws on the board. Other than a deuce, this was about the best card I could hope to catch. Now, the big blind bet out. Surprisingly, the initial limper folded, leaving me next to act. I felt this was not a cut-and-dried decision. There were two players left to act, and I had to decide how to approach the rest of the hand. I believed there were some good reasons both for calling and for raising.
Reasons for calling:
- If I just call, the two players behind me may continue to draw at a flush.
- One of my main reasons for raising is to eliminate low draws so that I can scoop; if the bettor has a low draw himself, I prefer to keep the other low draws in, as well.
- The bettor may have me beat, and just calling will help minimize my loss on the hand (while probably not cutting into my gain much, especially since I might pick up overcalls).
- The bettor might have trip sixes and a low draw, a scenario I think is quite likely, given the way he has played his hand. If this is in fact the case, I will either split if he makes his low or get scooped if he fills up. Either way, I can’t scoop the pot if a low card comes, so raising to knock out other low draws will be counterproductive.
Reasons for raising:
- The bettor might have something like two kings with a king-high flush draw, a hand that is reasonable to bet in this spot. So, a raise may knock out the low draws and enable me to play against a hand with only four outs (two kings and the two remaining sixes).
- I might get overcalls, anyway. Since I didn’t raise the flop, it may appear that I do not yet have a full house. Therefore, the players behind me might continue to draw at flushes, particularly if they also have good low draws.
- A raise will knock out players behind me who might call one bet with legitimate hands such as K-K-J-J. Given the size of the pot, a player with this hand is getting about the right price to call a single bet. It is my job to induce my opponents to make mistakes, and they would be making a mistake to call a raise with this hand.
- I probably have the best hand, and getting more money in with the best hand is generally correct strategy.
After weighing my options for a bit, I opted to raise. Obviously, I didn’t have the time to make a lengthy checklist in my head, as I have done above, but I did do some quick analysis, considering the factors that came into play in this situation.
After I raised, the bettor called, and then checked and called on the river when a queen came. He showed me 3-4-5-6, and I took the pot. Had I seen his hand on the turn, I probably would have opted to just call, as it would have been better for me to keep other low or flush draws in the pot. Then again, the player two to my left did jump out of his chair when the queen hit.