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Poker Strategy: Aaron Jones on Pot Controlling in Pot-Limit Omaha

by Steve Schult |  Published: Jul 10, 2013


Aaron JonesIn an effort to provide valuable tools and tips that are relevant to even the smallest games, Card Player is pleased to unveil the brand new series Poker Strategy For The Rest Of Us, which will focus on everyday situations that occur against the poker world’s most casual players.

Pro –- Aaron Jones

Concept — Pot Control In Pot-Limit Omaha

Aaron Jones, also known as “AEJones” online, is one of the brightest minds in poker. His ability to articulate his thought process led him to create, a training site where he would blog and make videos about different forms of poker.

Jones is now a cash game pro for Ivey Poker, a new training site founded by Phil Ivey. His main game is six-max no-limit hold’em online, but he has found success in all forms of poker, both cash games and tournaments.

The Indiana native has $431,703 in live tournament earnings and an additional $76,310 in online tournament winnings. This is all on top of $1.6 million earned in online cash games. Card Player talked to Jones about a short-handed, live pot-limit Omaha hand.

The Hand

In a six-handed, live $2-$5 pot-limit Omaha cash game, our hero ($3,200) was in the cutoff and opened with a pot-sized raise holding 9Diamond Suit 9Heart Suit 7Diamond Suit 7Heart Suit. He was called by the cutoff and a player on the button, both of whom had him covered.

The flop came 10Diamond Suit 7Club Suit 5Heart Suit and our hero bet $45. The player in the cutoff folded and the player on the button raised to $205. Our hero three-bet to $675 and was called by the player on the button.

The turn was the 8Diamond Suit, our hero bet $1,400 and was called once again. The river was the 4Club Suit and our hero moved his last $1,100 into the middle. He was called and his opponent turned over 9-8-6-5 to scoop the pot.

The Interview

Steve Schult: Do you like our hero’s open preflop? Is this standard and what kind of range would you be opening from the hijack with?

Aaron Jones: It’s hard to say. Any four high cards higher than eight or nine, any four card run-down hand, any one gap hand. It’s kind of hard to say because there are so many different combinations of hands in PLO, but 9-9-7-7 double suited is an easy open. This is like an elite hand. All double pair hands are just an easy open from any position.

They play really well in PLO, especially in heads-up pots because you can flop a set and if you can get it down to a relatively low stack-to-pot ratio, then you can just stack off with any set. If a guy flops top pair on like a 10-7-x with K-Q-J-10 and he’ll just kind of have to go with it pot odds wise because he’ll have odds against aces or whatever. They play well, but not deep necessarily because then you have to worry about getting set over setted and you may not be able to get all the money in with 9-9-7-7 on a Q-9-x board. But if you have a good pot-to-stack ratio, then you can just go with it. Here we do have some worries because we are so deep.

SS: Our hero leads for $45 and we get a raise from the villain on the button to $205. The reads we have on him is that he is a maniac and will over value two pair hands in most situations. Given that information, do you like folding, flatting, or three-betting?

AJ: Against most players, I’m just going to call and wait for a safe turn because we do have some reverse implied odds here with sevens and we are pretty dead against top set. We can always evaluate the turn and if we get a queen turn and we decide that he is weak, we can check-pot it. Or if we get a deuce turn, we can always check-pot it. But on every turn we can always check-call, so I like flatting against most players.

But since he is super maniacal, I think we should just make it $700 or whatever we can make it here and go with it. That also sets up almost a pot size shove on the turn. Of course there are some bad turn cards, but there are no horrific turns I guess. An eight or a jack is not a great turn, but against this guy, having the second nuts on the flop is just a re-pot. Against anybody else I like a call though.

Did he just call?

SS: No. He made a full pot-sized raise to $675.

AJ: There is definitely no reason to make it any less than full pot since we are out of position so that is good.

SS: The turn card is the 8Diamond Suit. It’s not one of the cards that you wanted to see, but we do pick up backdoor diamonds. What would be your line here?

AJ: I would check and we can check-call even a full pot-size bet since we have the diamonds and they are probably good around 80 percent of the time I would guess just off the top of my head. And the set is obviously still good sometimes. We can make a boat that would be good unless the river is like a 10 since J-10-9-8 is probably a pretty likely hand for him. If we check-call the turn, we can check-call some rivers or we can lead some rivers. If we make a boat, we might just want to lead for value.

I think this is a sweet hand to check-call because bet-calling is kind of gross. You bet and then realize there are like three different straights out there when you get raised.

SS: He ended up potting it for $1,400.

AJ: He’s just going with it, I guess. It’s obviously a hand that has a lot of equity against a crazy person and we can’t fold if the guys shoves so we are pretty much just all in.

SS: So are you checking for pot control? How do you balance the reasons for pot control against the immediate value you gain from the worse hands in his range?

AJ: There are very few worse hands that this guy is going to have that he is going to want to get it in with. Even a crazy guy I think would just call 6-4 or J-8 or something. I don’t really see him like jamming over us with like a set of fives. Which obviously if the turn is like a deuce, then we can still stack fives here.

The thing with check-calling is that in PLO it doesn’t matter a lot of the time because you can just check-call and it’s okay. You are out of position, but you are getting such crazy pot odds with the diamonds and the board pairing outs you can just check-call and it’s not a big deal.

In no limit, you don’t want to do that so much because you would be turning your hand face up, but in PLO it’s okay. You’re always getting at worst two-to-one.

SS: So you don’t see any real immediate value in betting the turn?

AJ: No, I think betting the turn is scary. If the turn is a queen it would be pretty reasonable because he can have like Q-J-10-x and you can just pot the turn and hope that he doesn’t have exactly tens because having a set of queens would be pretty unlikely given that he raised the flop and called a three-bet.

I don’t really like firing this turn though. You do have to pot control a ton of stuff in PLO.

SS: Given that he pots the turn and gets just called, are we just going with the hand on any river?

AJ: He just got called? We feel okay now. We don’t feel great, but we feel okay.

No, I don’t think we are going with it on any river. I mean like if the river is a king, I probably just like check-call. When he calls the turn I think he has a flush draw a lot of the time, so maybe an overpair with a flush draw kind of hand. Which seems unlikely given his flop raise, but maybe he has like Q-J-T-8 and turned diamonds and is just being crazy on the flop or something.

When he calls the turn, I guess he has two pair which we are ahead of, he could have 6-9, which I don’t think he would ever fold, but what was the river?

SS: The river was the 4Club Suit. What do you do now?

AJ: At this point in time I would check and try a soul read. If he has 6-7, which makes a straight, I’m not sure he would shove for value, he’s never going to fold 6-9 I don’t think, and there are still those random 10-x hands on the flop that turned a flush draw that I would expect him to bluff with.

There is four to a straight on the board so I would check and see what he did. I would look and see what he did with his chips, how fast he bet, or whether he double checked his cards. I would look for stuff like that and would hope that he would give me some kind of read one way or the other.