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Hand 2 Hand Combat -- Jeff Williams

Jeff 'yellowsub86' Williams Shares Pot-Limit Omaha Cash-Game Basic Strategy

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: Dec 31, 2008


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Hand No. 1

Event Pot-limit Omaha six-max cash game
Players 6
Blinds $5-$10
Stacks Jeff Williams – $1,946

Villain1 – $1,644.25

Villain2 – $1,000

Villain3 – $1,113.25

Villain1 raises to $30. Villain2 calls. Yellowsub86 calls from the button.

Jeff 'yellowsub86' WilliamsJeff Williams: One player (Villain2) had sat and posted the big blind under the gun plus one right away, just to let you know. I call in this situation with a pretty good double-suited hand, J 5 4 3. I have position, so this makes this hand a must-call.

Craig Tapscott:
Can you share for the people just beginning to venture into pot-limit Omaha cash games some of your preflop thoughts about starting hands, raising hands, and calling hands? What's good and what's garbage?

Well, I try to play hands with high pairs in them, any hand with two pair, and connected hands that have at least one suit (preferably double-suited). While this hand contains a "dangler" (one card that does not work with the other three cards), my position and the fact that my hand is double-suited make it a call preflop.

Villain3 reraises to $160 from the small blind. Villain1 calls. Villain2 folds. Yellowsub86 calls.

JW: Once Villain3 reraises, we can pretty confidently put him on A-A-X-X, since he has not been getting out of line much and will show up here with aces a very high percentage of the time. He will most likely bet full pot on the flop, making our preflop call here mandatory.

Please explain why.

You see many players trying to get as much money in as possible before the flop with A-A-X-X hands. I usually make this play only if I can get 35 percent of my stack in preflop, since then you can easily shove in the rest of your money on almost any flop. If you get too little of the money in preflop, all of your opponents know that you have A-A-X-X, and it's quite easy to put only the remaining chips in the pot when they have your hand beat.

Flop: 8 6 3 (pot: $520)

Villain3 bets $517. Villain1 folds.

As we expected, Villain3 led full pot on the flop. If the stacks were deeper, this move would not be expected with just aces, but probably something to go along with them, usually the nut-flush draw. However, since we are so shallow (having two times the pot on the flop), I feel Villain3 is potting his entire reraising range (which includes "dry" aces or aces without any help). We obviously have flopped a huge hand, and are a good favorite to win the pot.

Yellowsub86 raises to $1,163. Villain3 calls $436.25 and is all in.

Turn: K (pot: $2,426.50)

River: J (pot: $2,426.50)

Villain3 reveals the A A K 5.

Yellowsub86 wins the pot with two pair, jacks and threes.

Hand No. 2

Blinds $5-$10
Stacks Jeff Williams – $1,074

Villain1 – $1,006.75

Villain2 – $616.50

Hand 2 Hand Combat with Jeff Williams

Yellowsub86 raises to $35. Villain1 calls from under the gun plus one. Villain2 calls from the small blind.

JW: We raise here from under the gun with the A 10 7 7. This hand would be a marginal holding were it not double-suited, but that and the fact that there are no short stacks at the table make this hand a raise from under the gun.

Flop: 8 6 5 (pot: $115)

Villain2 checks. Yellowsub86 bets $70.

CT: So what's the thinking here on this type of board?

Well, we are given a great flop to bluff. It is unlikely that anyone flopped the nuts (9-7), since we have half of the sevens in the deck and it's easy for me to represent 9-7 with how I plan on betting this hand.

So the continuation-bet is an info-gathering probe?

Yes. It's designed to test where people are in the hand, and if I were to get raised huge, I would fold my hand. My thinking would be that someone either flopped the straight or has a set, basically a hand that I cannot bluff them off.

Villain1 calls. Villain2 folds.

Turn: 2 (pot: $255)

JW: Villain1 had about $1,000 to start the hand and just calls my bet on the flop. I put him on a weak two-pair hand, possibly bottom set, or a stubborn overpair. The turn is great for my hand, as nothing changed from the flop. Now we will try to bluff him off whatever he just flat-called the flop with by betting full pot.

All of the hands you mentioned in his calling range beat your hand. Is it still possible to represent the 9-7 in this spot and make him fold? Is it never good strategy to check and evaluate how Villain1 proceeds here?

It is very profitable to represent the 9-7 in this spot. If my plan was to bluff only at the flop and then slow down and concede the pot to him, my bluff would not be good. But since I plan on betting all three streets unless the board does not run out in my favor (a flush comes or the board pairs), my bluff will definitely show a profit in the long run.

Yellowsub86 bets $252. Villain1 calls.

He calls my full-pot bet on the turn. The turn did bring a club-flush draw, so my analysis of the hand remains essentially the same. Now I put him on a bit of a tighter range, something like any set, top two pair, an overpair that picked up the flush draw, or possibly a straight draw (but that would be a terrible call on the turn). The river is terrible for most of his range.

River: 4 (pot: $759)

The club flush missed, and all sets and two-pair hands have to fold now, since the board contains four to the straight, and I have been betting very aggressively throughout the hand.

Yellowsub86 moves all in for $717. Villain1 calls $649.75 and is all in, and holds the J J 8 7 for a straight. Villain1 wins the pot of $2,058.50.

JW: Bah! He had the one hand that can call the river. His turn call is quite bad, as he has only a pair of jacks (with no flush draw) and an open-end straight draw that could be drawing dead if in fact I do have 9-7 in my hand. You do not want to be calling your money off in pot-limit Omaha with a draw to what could turn out to be a second-best hand.

Thanks for being brave and sharing your thinking during a losing hand with us. Now that you've brought it up, what are the major mistakes players make in pot-limit Omaha cash games, especially the ones who are basically bringing their hold'em game over to pot-limit Omaha?

Well, for instance in this hand, he was going to be folding to my river shove if he did not make his straight on the river, so he would have called off $35 + $70 + $252, only to fold the river. This is a mistake, chasing non-nut draws, that I see a lot of players making. A more classic mistake that hold'em players make when they venture into Omaha is overvaluing hands. If you are to reraise with A-A-X-X and flop, for example, J-5-5 rainbow, you need to play your aces very cautiously. That's not to say there's no value in your hand, but you need to consider what your opponents can pay you off with that is worse than your hand.

Jeff Williams is a student and professional poker player currently enrolled at the University of Georgia. When he was 19, he won the EPT Monte Carlo tournament for more than $1 million, and took second in a 2008 World Series of Poker event for $406,330, soon after turning 21. Williams plays online as yellowsub86, and can be found playing high-stakes tournaments and cash games on all of the major online sites.