Games: Poker

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The Independent Culture
THE MORE I play Omaha, the four-card version of Hold 'em, the more I am struck by its subtlety. How would you play this hand?

Sitting in the fourth seat, after the blinds (forced opening bets) of pounds 1, pounds 1, pounds 2 and pounds 5, I found 4K !K #Q #J, a very strong hand. I checked, hoping to put in a check-raise after someone else had bet.

But no one did. Two of the blinds called the pounds 5, and the pounds 5 opener declined his option to raise. The pot was now pounds 20. The flop came down 2K-#5-#7. The opener now bet pounds 20.

What is the right play here? Of course, my trips are best at this point. I raised pounds 50, to test him and to dissuade anyone else from drawing. If I have only, say, pounds 100 more, I think my raise is correct, because I want to see the hand through. But I'm sitting on pounds 500. Do I want to commit all this money? No - or, more precisely, not yet.

When the two other players folded, the original bettor raised me back pounds 200. Ouch! I should not have given him the chance to do that. Because it is pretty obvious, if you know Omaha, what he's got. It is a flush draw and a straight draw, with a hand such as #A #4 26 48, and two shots to hit it: a total of 16 cards.

I re-raised anyway. The chances of his improving are about evens. The next card was no help to either of us. Now, with only one card to come, it is about 2-1 against him - in other words I am the 2-1 on favourite. This is when I should have bet! If I had merely called before the flop and he had hit a good card, I could have folded cheaply.

If, as happened, a blank had come down, then I could have bet with the odds in my favour. I would have lost anyway, because he hit a straight on the river (last card). But does not alter the validity of this line of argument.

A tricky sum: six diamonds to a flush (nine are left, less my #Q and #J in hand, and the #K which will give me quads) and 10 cards to hit a straight (three threes, two sixes, two eights and three nines, discounting the low diamonds).