Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Drought Finally Ends at Casino AZ

After what seemed like at least 10 losing trips to Casino Arizona, I finally walked away a winner today. I made a change that may be a very profitable one in the future. I finally sat down in the 3-6 Omaha 8 or better game.

When I first showed up after work, there was a list of 7-8 players waiting for Omaha so I sat in a 3-6 Hold'em game while I waited for my name to be called. The hold'em game was more of the same old shit as I dropped a quick $50 in about 20 minutes. My second hand of the session was Jack Ten offsuit in the big blind. I flopped a ten for top pair and bet the flop and turn. I checked the river and lost to another ten with a Queen kicker.

The very next hand, I find Ace-Queen in the small blind. There is one limper and I raise. The big blind comes along and the limper calls one more. I totally miss the Jack high flop. I bet anyway and the blind calls while the preflop limper folds. I bluff the turn and the river. The blind at least thinks for a few seconds before calling the river with a pair of tens and a nine kicker. Why do I continue to try and force people to fold in this stupid game?!

Finally my name is called for the 3-6 Omaha game and I rack up what's left of my stack and hustle over. In a sign of good luck, a player on the button wants to take the open seat that I was about to take. He wants to play the button first, so I get a free hand, which I fold and then I get to switch behind the button without paying the blinds. I tend to focus on these small victories when I am losing.

The first thing I did was try to figure out a way to look at all 4 cards at once. This is more difficult than it sounds since it is especially difficult to shield your cards from the other players with 4 in your hand. I finally decided to line them up in portrait style, one on top of the other so I could peel them up all at once with my thumb.

While trying not to look like a total amateur, I reminded myself to watch all of my opponents for the cards they were turning over at showdown. At the very least it would give me an idea of their starting hand requirements. As I get faster at reading hands, I can graduate to recreating the action in my head to see if my opponents have tendencies with certain hands. This type of detailed thinking was not really necessary in this game as the players were incredibly bad.

Last night I started reading the Omaha 8 or better section in Jeff Hwang's Pot Limit Omaha Poker book. He mentioned, as many others have that you can make a lot of money in loose Omaha 8 games by just playing or drawing to the nuts. This game was a prime example.

My first clue that this was a soft game was when the player two to my left tried to raise KJ78 before the flop. I also saw hands like AQ77 and KK33. Wow!
Unfortunately my mind has not adapted to remembering all the cards in Omaha hands (I can barely recreate them for hold'em). I believe my first win was half of a small pot with a nut low. Then I won a big pot with the nut low and a Ten high flush for the high to scoop.

The player next to me was nice enough to show me his cards if I was out of the hand. He wanted some company for his misery as he kept hitting decent hands by the turn only to be decimated by the river. I will grant him that he was having some bad luck, but his major problem was that he should not have been in half of the hands to begin with. He was the ideal opponent because the only thing he would think of was his hand and whether he had any chance at a draw to a better hand. There was absolutely no thought to what the odds were to draw to these hands or the fact that even if he hit the draws, they were not to the nuts.

One of the neat things about this game is if you scoop a pot and it's over $50, the next hand is a kill pot and the stakes go up to $6-$12. It was one of these hands where I won my biggest pot, even though I split with another person.

I started with A23Qss in middle position. There was one limper and the kill pot poster before it got to me. I raised to build the pot since I figured it would at least be 4 way action with the money already in the pot. Instead there ended up being 7 players in the pot. The flop had a deuce and another low card in it. I had no high possible but a player on my right led into me. Since I was drawing to the nut low, I just call to try and bring others into the pot. Everyone calls! The turn gives me the nut low, but also puts a possible straight out there and a flush draw. The same thing happens again where I just call hoping for half the pot. Although by now, I am figuring that someone is going to quarter me for the low and I will be lucky to get my money back. The river is the third flush card. It's actually checked to me and I check it through. Everyone turns over their cards and there are a couple of straights and a non nut flush for high. Amazingly no one else has A-3 for the nut low and I win half of a monster pot. There were 6 people in the hand at the end and I was the only one with a nut low!

Right before I was going to leave, I backed into a scoop when my AQ23 hit Aces and twos for the high when no low was possible. Somehow it was checked through on the turn and river as no one tried to bluff at it. I was itching to fold, but when we turned over all the hands, I was the only one with an Ace in my hand. Someone else had Kings up, but that wasn't close to the winner.

So after a negative $50 set back at Hold'em, I left the casino up $60 for the day. That was a $110 swing in about an hour and a half. I know that a sample size of one doesn't count for much, but I really think I may have stumbled into a very profitable game for the next few sessions.

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