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Pot-Limit Omaha on Poker After Dark

Analyzing a TV hand

by Jeff Hwang |  Published: Jun 07, 2011


Jeff Hwang

In April, pot-limit Omaha (PLO) made its first cash-game appearance on national TV when NBC aired two weeks of PLO cash-game play on Poker After Dark. The lineup for the first week included Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius, Tom Dwan, Phil Galfond, Brian Hastings, and Brandon Adams, with online PLO cap-game specialist Jared “Harrington25” Bleznick replacing Adams in the second week.

The game had a $100,000 buy-in, and $300-$600 blinds. For most of the two sessions, there was also a $1,200 live straddle, with a second $2,400 straddle making its way onto the table for several hands, as well. Let’s look at a hand from the second week, when the stacks were a bit deeper.

*The Hand *

Button: Hastings ($248,000) – A♦ 5♥ 3♥ 3♠
SB (small blind): Bleznick ($61,000) – Q♠ 9♥ 8♣ 3♦
BB (big blind): Dwan ($100,000) – K♠ 10♦ 9♠ 6♣
UTG (under the gun)/Straddle: Galfond ($233,000) – Q♥ 8♠ 6♦ 4♣
Cutoff: Ivey ($468,000) – 9♣ 7♦ 5♠ 4♠

Sitting Out: Antonius ($92,000)

Preflop ($2,100): Galfond posts the straddle UTG. Ivey folds.

Ivey’s played a lot of hands worse than 9-7-5-4 with a suit thus far, but he has Hastings acting behind him with a legitimate $248,000 stack, or a little over 200 big blinds. Hastings started the week with an $89,000 stack, and has picked up nearly $150,000 over the previous 23 TV hands. He has been very active of late: Over the previous 23 TV hands, Hastings has played 14 of 21 hands (he sat out two hands), and has put in a raise preflop six times, including a couple of three-bets.

Rather than risk playing out of position, Ivey pitches his marginal hand.

Action: Hastings ($248,000) opens with a raise from the button to $3,500.
He doesn’t disappoint, opening with complete trash.

Action: Bleznick folds. Dwan ($100,000) reraises to $12,000.

Dwan three-bets out of position with a holding that is not a premium-class hand, either. As noted, Hastings has been extremely active as of late. Moreover, there is some other relevant immediate history: In the first week’s play (which in real life took place just an hour or two before the second week’s play began), Hastings opened from the button, Dwan three-bet out of one of the blinds, and Hastings folded.
Perhaps Hastings will fold again. If not, the result will be a low-SPR scenario (stack-to-pot ratio less than 4), which is less of a disadvantage for Dwan playing out of position.

Action: Galfond folds. Hastings calls.

A-5-3-3 with a non-nut suit is one of those hands you fold to a raise — apparently unless you are on a monster heater.

Flop ($25,500): A♥ K♦ 8♥. Dwan checks.

This is kind of an awkward spot for Dwan. He has middle pair, but nothing else. I think his best play, generally, is to bet and then fold to a raise. For him to check here, he must think his king has some value, and that Hastings won’t try to steal if he checks.

Action: Hastings checks.

Hastings’ play makes more sense. He has a weak top pair with a weak flush draw, and
he does not want to bet and have to fold to a check-raise.

Turn ($25,500): 10♠. Dwan bets $16,400.

Dwan turns two pair, and bets out roughly two-thirds of the pot.

Action: Hastings calls.

From Hastings’ perspective, the first bet in a heads-up pot is always suspect, and he cannot fold his hand for one bet.

River ($58,300): J♦. Dwan checks.

At this point, Dwan is just hoping for a showdown, because there is very little Hastings could have called the turn bet with that doesn’t have kings and tens beat. Hastings, on the other hand, has only one play, and that is to bet, because (a) there is very little Dwan could have that Hastings can beat with his pair of aces, 5 kicker, and (b) unless Dwan checked the nut straight, he’s going to have a hard time calling a bet on this board.

Action: Hastings bets $32,000. Dwan instantly folds.

This hand is a lesson in positional advantage. With the positional advantage, Hastings simply was able to play Dwan a lot more accurately than Dwan was able to play Hastings, which cost Dwan the pot and won it for Hastings. ♠

Jeff Hwang is a semiprofessional player and author of Pot-Limit Omaha Poker: The Big Play Strategy and the three-volume Advanced Pot-Limit Omaha series. He is also a longtime contributor to the Motley Fool. You can check out his website at