Yesterday, I played Premier
in the Weekly TLB Winner
match at PokerStars
. The TLB Winner gets to choose what game we'll play, and they usually
choose NLHE, but not Premier. About 12 hours before I was scheduled to sit down and play our match, I found out that he
chose limit Omaha/8.
I was in the girly chat box thingy with some WPBTers when I found out, and I think I
said something that rhymes with "Oh sweet merciful shit. Not only have I never played O/8, I've never played
anything other than NLHE heads-up. I am so dead."
I quickly fired off an e-mail to the BARGE
list, begging for some ultra-basic advice
. While I
waited for the advice to come back, I crammed Bobby Baldwin's chapter on O/8 in Super System II
really needs to have teh slashie put back into the title) and fired up PokerStars. Zeem
sat with me at a .02/.04 table, and for the next seven or eight hours,
lots of WPBTers sat down as I learned my way around the game. It only cost me about twelve cents, and it's the best
twelve cents I've ever spent. The first response on the BARGE list came from World-Famous Tiltboy Perry
. Perry is scary good at poker, and happens to have a bracelet in O/8 from the 2002 WSOP
, so it
was sort of like getting a Hold'Em lesson from Greg Raymer (who is also a BARGEr, and scary good at poker. In fact,
most BARGErs are scary good at poker, and I'm certain the only reason they let me hang out with them is because I got
lucky and rolled a natural 20 when I first went to BARGE last year and discovered that I was always a BARGEr, but
didn't know it, yet.)
, in part: Heads up O/8, except
against a really bad opponent, is a card-catching game... how do you think I won a bracelet? But if you have someone
who is willing to put in multiple bets when they are being freerolled, or have only a mediocre one-directional hand,
then you can "outskill" them.
Against, these people you want to see flops cheaply. If you
have someone who is folding too often, then maybe you want to get a raise in preflop if they are still folding after
As for what are "premium" hands heads up:
- 4 cards working together for
- decent double suited hands
- naked AA or KK is good heads up
- A2, A3, especially with a
broadway card, another low card, or card suited with the ace
- low wrap hands (2345, 2346) but these you want to
see the flop cheap, because if there is no low, the hand is worthless.
But in reality, virtually all hands
are playable heads up.
When I asked Perry if I could quote his e-mail, he graciously agreed, and added
the following bonus advice:- Almost all hands are playable, so if your opponent folds preflop to raises,
raise often preflop- If your opponent folds too often post-flop, bet post-flop. Also raise
pre-flop, unless him calling preflop makes him fold less post-flop- Hands are very close in value
preflop but not post-flop... This has afew implications: -
Against skilled opponents, get as much in preflop as possible - Against
unskilled opponents, keep pots small preflop and get as much in post-flop when you have big edges
was no way I would outskill Premier, who is one of the best in the world, and routinely plays some pretty high limits at
PokerStars, but Perry's advice was echoed by a lot of BARGErs (who I can't say enough good things about): see a lot of
flops, don't let him push me around or get into a hold'em mindset where I'm folding a lot pre-flop, and understand that
drawing to the second nuts -- a mortal sin in a full ring game -- is probably okay in this particular situation.
Somehow, even though I'm from Southern California, we even managed to avoid talking about water rights.
played with that blissful confidence that comes from knowing just enough to feel like I wasn't flying blind, and
accepting that I'm supposed to lose (it was like playing Michael Jordan 1-on-1 in 1992) so it was okay if I didn't play
like a champion. This is quite different from when I play NLHE heads-up, because I'm pretty good at that game, and I
expect to win each time I sit down to play.
How did the match turn out? I only made one huge
mistake, as far as I can tell: I thought I had a wheel, but that was only using one card in my hand (In O/8 you
use two from your hand and two from the board, no matter what, which I knew but forgot) so he scooped a pretty
significant pot and I felt like a tool.
Early on, I made what I thought was a tough call with top two
pair. There was a pretty scary board, but it was only one more bet on the end so I was getting something like 12:1 on
my money, so I called because it was limit (I'd probably fold two pair to a huge bet on the end in NLHE there.) I
remembered reading in a 2 2 book somewhere that not calling one bet on the end when you're pretty sure you've been
ahead the whole way is a huge mistake. Luckily, I was right and probably too inexperienced to see all the different
ways I could have been beat there. That gave me some confidence to call more often, and may have helped him think I was
a bit of a landmine (I was.) I don't think he bet on 4th or 5th street without a hand for a long time after that. Oh,
and more than once I'd made a good low, and I just called on the turn and river, because I wasn't sure if it made sense
to keep putting in bets when I knew I was only going to get half the pot at best.
Before the break, I had him
down 2100 to 900, but since it was limit and the blinds were low, he had plenty of time to come back and crusher me when
the blinds really mattered, which he did. First, I ran a Q-high heart flush into his K-high heart flush, which I still
think was fine (lousy results, but still an okay play.) I play a tiny little bit of PLO, so I know enough to not draw
to anything other than the nuts in full ring, but heads up, if he has the A or K-high flush, I have to just suck it up
there and take my lumps. Oh, and my flopped nut low draw missed so he scooped. Doh. That brought us closer to even, if
I recall correctly.
The hand that killed me was flopping the nut flush with a good low draw (I think) and
he boated-up, caught a better low-draw and scooped again. The blinds were so huge relative to our stacks, I needed to
catch cards to stay alive there, but they went cold for me and he won, which was totally cool with me, because he is
clearly the better player.
I didn't book at win for Team PokerStars, but it was insanely fun to play both
HU and in the micro-limit game earlier in the day. Considering how little experience I have in the game, I feel like I
played pretty well, too.
I've found a new game to play that I probably never would have had the courage to
try out on my own. If you come looking for me at PokerStars in the next few weeks, you're probably going to find me
playing limit O/8 for pennies. I'm currently ahead about eighteen cents, and hoping to grind out a dollar so I can move