Hot Hand #1 -- PLO Tournament (Part III)

OK so after a weekend full of poker, I'm back at you today with Part III to Hot Hand #1, which if you'll recall takes place early on in a Pot-Limit Omaha tournament on full tilt (I may have mistakenly reported it as pokerstars originally, but same difference). Recall that after the flop, I held the nuts to the board with a 2-card inside straight, I bet the pot and found one caller. Then the turn card brought me a higher straight, but now the second-nuts instead of the stone nuts. I posed the question to you as to what you would do in this situation:

In the end, the commenters are fairly evenly split between checking here and betting out here. Those who advocate checking seem to cite the flush draw and the higher straight possibility out there as reasons to try to wait until the river to decide whether or not to commit fully to this pot. Those comments in favor of betting most often cited the need to protect my hand and to find out some information about what my opponent was holding. For my part, as I said in Part II of this post, I think the check on the flop warranted some consideration, despite my holding the nuts at the time, because the pot was so small on the flop that even a pot-sized bet was likely to get called by the drawing hands out against me. However, in this case after the turn card, I simply cannot bring myself to think I'm behind here. I think part of any winning Omaha strategy will require sometimes betting/raising the pot when a scare card falls, or just generally when one is not sure that he or she is holding the best hand. I have played enough poker, and enough Omaha, to know that, for me, I don't want to be that guy who checked the flop with the nuts, then checked the turn or made seeing another card cheap again with a possible higher straight draw and a flush draw out there, and ended up giving the cheap cards away that beat my nut hand from early on.

As I mentioned as well in the last post, especially in a draw-heavy game like Omaha, I just don't think that giving opponents inexpensive chances to draw out on me when I have the nuts is the right way to play this game. On the flop with a pot of only 60 chips, maybe, but now with 180 chips in the pot I know I wanted to bet hard, but the 180 chips is a still fairly small, fairly callable amount, and I want to get this guy out of the hand right now if possible. And, I was convinced after his flop call that he would bet out whatever hand he was calling with before if I checked it to him now. So I checked to him, with the intention of checkraising the size of the pot if he bet, and he did not disappoint me, betting 180 chips or the full pot. I quickly checkraised him to 720 chips, sticking with my strategy as I felt fairly confident I was ahead, and wanted to price this guy right into mucking his hand now before the river came and wrecked my hand. Yes, I know my opponent could have AQ and be ahead of me. But, when he has already called a pot-sized bet on the JT7 flop, I just don't see how I can reasonably put him on holding AQ. After the fact that is easy to do, but at the time, given his potbet-call on the flop, it certainly seemed far more likely than not that he was not holding AQ, and therefore I went ahead and checkraised the pot here.

And that's when he checkraised me the size of the pot. Right back at me.

Now what do you do here? This guy has just basically put his tournament life on the line with this bet. Yet, the only thing that beats my hand currently is AQ, and to call my pot-sized bet on the flop like he did with AQ would mean chasing just an inside straight draw on this board, along with possible flush draws. So, do I do like many of the previous commenters have suggested, and assume I'm beat and just fold the second-nuts here? Or do I call, which basically amounts to putting us both allin on this pot? What's the best move here?

I'll be back with the conclusion to this post shortly, but would love to get your comments on this, the most crucial part of the hand where I'm either sticking with my strong hand, or I'm succumbing to my opponent's aggression here on the turn card. And speaking of pot-limit Omaha tournaments, last night I final tabled one on full tilt -- I have a full writeup on my blog right now if you're interested in the details.

How Would You Play It: Follow Up

Yesterday I posted a question which was emailed to me by Dave Westbay regarding opinions on how a particular hand should have / could have been played. We had a number of responses in comments, and I received a large number of emails regarding the topic as well. I'm going to post my original response to Dave which was sent to him earlier in the week. As usual, I have a bit of a different take on the subject than most people, but I think it is good that we don't all agree. There certainly isn't only one style of play in poker, and by exploring different views we can expand our own thinking process. Here is what I wrote to Dave:

I don't totally disagree with how you played the hand - you had a high pocket pair and reason to believe he may be bluffing, but personally I would have played it different.

I have a few rules for myself. One is - (unless I'm very shortstacked) I will never CALL an all-in raise from someone else that will cause me to be (virtually) all-in unless I am absolutely sure I have the best hand - and I wouldn't feel that with JJ. I would, however, raise all-in myself with JJ, depending on position and other factors.

Continue reading How Would You Play It: Follow Up

Poker Hands: How Would You Play It?

The following is a hand that reader / fellow poker blogger Dave Westbay ran across recently, and has been the subject of debate among a group of us. I'd like to see what you all think - would you have done the same in this situation? I will post my response to what I would have done with this hand in a follow up post after I hear back from some of you. 


I'd like to get some feedback on a hand I played tonight, to see what you all think. Here are the details, as best I can remember them. 


I'm playing in a live Amateur Poker League tournament. No money, no prizes on the line, but this is the Venue Grand Championship, and the winner goes on to the Regional tournament. It's toward the late stages, with blinds at T500/1000. I have T8900. There are still more than 16 players in the tournament. I post the small blind, and I pick up JJ. UTG folds, next player goes all-in. His chip stack looks about equal to mine. It's folded to me. I think for a long time, but I'm probably not thinking about everything that I should be. The player who went all-in has played a lot of pots and shown several marginal hands, so I think he could have pushed with a less than premium hand. He might be trying to bully the rest of us out. 


Continue reading Poker Hands: How Would You Play It?

Reader Question: Playing at

'LordOdie' submitted this question: 


I have been playing on pokerroom for a while now.  When I read all the different blogs, I see mentions of lots of different sites, but never pokerroom.  They seem to have more tourney's and players, but if all the 'pros' stay clear, should I too? 


There isn’t really a simple answer for this.  I started playing at PokerRoom years ago, but only for play money, I never deposited real cash there. I moved over to Ultimate Bet for a while, mostly just due to the promotions they were running at the time. 


Continue reading Reader Question: Playing at

Reader Question: Poker Simulators

Thanks to Matt W. for this question: 


What is the best poker simulation training software out there? I have seen Poker Academy and the Wilson software but they can be pricey. Does anyone know of a good free alternative or recommend one that won't break the bank?


I think it is best that this question goes out to everyone who has ever used poker simulators. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on products they have tried, so it would be interesting to hear a variety of responses from actual users. 


Continue reading Reader Question: Poker Simulators

Reader Question: Value of Play Money Games

Thanks to Dave W. for this question:

Do you think that playing in play money games has much value in improving your play? I started on play money tables and only recently started playing for low-stakes real money (my first was the $20 Hurricane Katrina benefit tourney). Rather than risk any more real money, I would like to hone my skills at the play money tables. Do you think there is a huge difference in play between the fake and the real money games?        

Continue reading Reader Question: Value of Play Money Games

Reader Question: Online vs. Live Play

Thanks to Dave for this question: 


I have played numerous online STT and MTTs and best finish was 2nd.  My brother and I tried our first live tournament in Atlantic City.  We both made the final table out of 205 entrants.  He won and I took 8th.(Lost to my brother with JJ vs. K10.  He hit the K.)  Was this a fluke or has my online experience really made me a contender on the live circuit?


Continue reading Reader Question: Online vs. Live Play

Reader Question - Playing Against the Maniacs

I received this question from a reader named Jim:


I have been playing poker for over a year now, and I have had a problem with my tournament play. I play lower buy in events ($1 to $10) and conventional poker just doesn't seem to work for me. You have maniacs in the beginning of these tourneys pushing Ace rag or worse trying to chip up, and by the first break if run into a cold deck (which I have been recently) you are one of the shorter stacks and are relegated to coin flip situations anyway. How do you adjust your game to this? Or should I just save up until I can deposit a bankroll that will get me into the higher buy in events, where the play is a little more conventional. Any advice you have would be appreciated.


Continue reading Reader Question - Playing Against the Maniacs

Learning Pai Gow Poker

paigowThe object of Pai Gow Poker is to beat the dealer. All players and the dealer receive seven cards, which they will use to construct two separate hands – one with two cards and one with five. These hands are ranked using standard poker rankings. 


The two-card hand is called the Low Hand or the Front Hand. The highest ranked two-card hand is AA.  Since only two cards are used, straights and flush hands are not possible to get. The five-card hand must always be equal to or higher in rank than the two-card hand. 


Continue reading Learning Pai Gow Poker

Poker Questions; Reader Response

questionsReader Question:

Is there a 'best' way to play the low-limit games of no-fold'em limit hold'em so prevalent online? I've found that by tightening up my starting requirements I can be profitable, but at the cost of playing very, very few hands. An alternative is to loosen up in late position and join the throngs of limpers with Ax-suited in an effort to flop a flush / flush draw, but the variance involved is off-putting. Any thoughts? Or should I just focus on no-limit games and blast away?

Continue reading Poker Questions; Reader Response

Poker Questions?

questionsIt is time again to send in your questions regarding poker, a hand you played, advice on where or when to play, or about handling a certain situation at the tables. Our first question/response can be found here.

Send us any questions that you may have and our team will give our answers, as well as post the question to the other readers. 

Also, if you have learned something that has proved to be vital to your game, feel free to share that as well. Poker is a game that takes a lifetime to master, and there are times that we could all use some support. Often there is no right answer, but through debate with others we may learn to see other facets of the game. Don't hesitate to reply with any question/comment you may have.

Calculating Pot Odds

pokercardsOften, you will hear someone say that they were justified in drawing to a straight or a flush, based on pot odds.  This may sound mystical to the beginner, but it is really a simple guide as to whether or not to play your draw after the flop or turn.

Consider this scenario:

You are playing Limit Hold’em, and limp into an un-raised pot in late position, holding QJ of spades.  There are two limpers ahead of you, the small blind calls and the big blind checks, resulting in a 2.5 BB (big blind/big bet), or 5 SB (small blind/small bet) pot.  The five of you see a flop of Kh Td 3c.  The small blind bets out and the big blind calls.  The early position limper folds, and the player to your right calls.  You are last to act, and have a decision to make.

Continue reading Calculating Pot Odds

Playing Poker; Going on Tilt

acejackGoing on tilt is a state of mind that sometimes occurs while playing poker, causing you to play differently than you normally would. Many people only think of it as being a result of bad situations, bad cards, or bad beats, but it can also be the result of good situations and it is important to recognize both.  

When you have played strong, tight poker, only to lose pot after pot to players that call with any two cards, you may start to loosen up your starting requirements and play less-than-stellar cards yourself. This is one of the beginning stages of going on tilt - you have adjusted your game plan to suit those around you, but by doing this you are only strengthening their game and weakening yours. Often this leads to an all-out tilt where you can no longer recognize playable hands, and find it impossible to win a pot no matter how you play. If you begin to feel this way, it is extremely important to take a break for a few minutes, or even for a few days. Once you start thinking that you have to play more to make up for your losses, it is time to wrap that session and start fresh when your head has cleared. 

Continue reading Playing Poker; Going on Tilt

Online Tournament Play for Beginners, Part 3.4

acesThe past few days I have discussed the four stages of tournament play. Today, we have reached the Final Table.

My intention is not to tell you how to play tournaments, specifically the final table, but rather to give you an indication of what to expect. Making it to the final table can be both exciting and terrifying, especially your first time there. Your heart is beating a mile a minute, and it can be hard to focus on the task at hand. 


Continue reading Online Tournament Play for Beginners, Part 3.4

Online Tournament Play for Beginners, Part 3.3

acesThe past few days I have discussed the first two stages of playing in a MTT.  Stage One, The First Hour and Stage Two – Making it to the Bubble.  

Stage Three – In the Money.  The first time you make it into the money on a multi-table tournament, it is pretty exciting. Now is not the time to celebrate or get careless though, here is where the real work begins. 

The first thing you must do is take a look at your stack size.  If you have a domineering chip lead, you have the luxury of either sitting back and waiting for prime hands, or you can become the table bully, scaring other players off pots. Either strategy works well, so know which suits your style of play best and use it.

Continue reading Online Tournament Play for Beginners, Part 3.3

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