Monday, September 14, 2009

Omaha kills profits

I love Omaha. I'm a bonafide Omaholic, thanks to CK and her cracked out ways. But I'm having an issue with Omaha at this present moment. Namely, I suck at it.

Big time.

Now, if you sat with me at an Omaha table and watched me play, you wouldn't think I was that bad. My hand selection doesn't seem too off (more on that in a second), I'm betting when I'm ahead with big draws, and I'm folding with the worst hands. So my fundamentals seem sound, to me at least, but my historical records tell me a different story. I'm a solid loser at Omaha games, losing most of my sessions and making only meager profits when I win. I'm a big believer in not getting emotional about the game of poker and trusting in the math. So if the math is telling me I suck at this game, it must be true.

So where's my leak, if my fundamentals are ok (an iffy assumption but let's run with it for now)? I think it has to do with my starting hand selection. I'm starting to get the feeling that I'm being TOO tight with my starting hands. In Hold'em, this isn't too much of a problem, because your premium hand selections, when bet properly, will most often win the pot, assuring you a small but steady profit. But in limit Omaha, your premium starting hands will only win about half the time, or less, owing to the fact that you can't get people off their hands in limit and Omaha hands are easily counterfeit-able. So I'm starting to be of the opinion that I need to widen my hand selection a bit. For example, at this moment, I'll only play these hands:
Any A2
Any suited pairs, Jacks or higher (by suited pairs, I mean a high card with another card of the same suit, not two Queen of Diamonds!)
A3, 23, or A4 with two face suited cards
Any combination of high Broadway cards

But maybe, just maybe, I can add a few more selections to my repetoire. What about:
3,4,5 with a high suited card
A45 by itself
89TJ (high straight possibilities but no Broadway)

And maybe there are other possibilities I haven't thought of yet. One thing's for sure, for the sake of my bankroll I have to stay off of Omaha until I can figure out what's going on. I should be crushing the game at the Borgata, but I'm getting my as handed to me my donkeys. So my new mission is to tighten up my game by reading at least two Omaha books and then attacking the game online at low limits to test out the theories. Then, and only then, will I be playing Omaha at any level above 2-4.


ASG said...

Dumb comments:

1) I assume you mean hi/lo
2) I noticed no actual pairs mentioned. Do you play all of them?

Jamie said...

I mention suited Jacks or better and yes, I meant hi-lo.

ASG said...

So if you have Ks and Qs not suited or As and anything else but they're not suited, you're folding? Or do you mean if you have a pair below Jacks, you'll only call if its suited?

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Jamie said...

On terms of pairs, I'll throw away any unsuited pair, even Aces, if there's no good low to go with it. So KK56 unsuited goes in the muck. But QQ23, suited, stays.


ASG said...

Clear but sounds like that's where you can loosen up a little. Seems like a hand selection where you're only looking for lows and flushes and leaving out the boats. I'd at least limp in with aces everytime. I'd probably be coming in with high pairs with A3, 23, or A4 as well.

Jamie said...

I'm definitely coming in with high pairs and low cards, but Aces by themselves? Seems iffy. Take AA97, rainbow, for example. How often does two pair hold up in Limit O/8? Not often enough to justify a multi-way pot I would think. And a set only comes 1 in 7.5 flops. Even then, boating up is not a guarantee.

According to this site:

it looks like getting a boat by the turn is something like 22.5:1. Only 9.5:1 if you go until the river, but who wants to call all those bets to the river with only one pair at that point?

Do you have a different opinion?

Mike G said...

You seem very clever and experienced at the game - which would lead an impartial objective party to ask the question -perhaps no player wins at Omaha? Certainly you're not suggesting that the "donkeys" who've been sucking out on you are consistent winners. So if not them, and if not you, then where is all the money going?

To the only player who wins Every night - the house?

ASG said...

I don't have odds in front of me but it seems crazy to me that setting mining with low pockets in HE is a good move despite odds of hitting due to implied odds but Omaha hi/lo being so much lower that you wouldn't want to play them at all. It also seems like a fairly easy hand to get away from after the flop, especially if a low hand is a possibility. Haven't played Omaha enough though to know if the odds really work. As semi-backup, however, I don't see a strat guide online that recommends folding naked aces with no raises in front of you.

Jamie said...

@Mike G - You have a point. At a low-ish limit O/8 game, it's very possible that there are no consistent winners, especially given the small edge in the game vs. the rake. So some of these guys I see with big stacks in front of them could be giving them back the next week. Money gets pushed around and the house wins. But that doesn't change the fact that *I* seem to be booking losing sessions at an alarming rate. I appreciate your compliments, though. I like to think I'm a decent player, but there's a leak somewhere.

@ASG - The problem with set mining in O/8 (not Omaha high) is that you need to scoop for it to be worth it. And usually, when you don't boat up, you won't even be winning the high. How many hands can a naked set of Aces beat if the board runs all the way out? Basically, only someone staying in with middle two pair or a lower set, in which case the pot is usually small to begin with. So what I mean is that you won't win a big pot, even if you hit your boat. In Hold'em, set mining is much more profitable because of the nature of No-Limit betting. I can protect my hand by betting off flush and straight draws and I will usually stack a guy with set over set. In Omaha/8, set over set is not a big money winner.

Just my opinion, obv.

ASG said...

I was thinking about it some more and there's more hands than just boats that are good for naked aces. I think what sums it up is you want to scoop but I'm including getting the high with no chance of getting quartered or flops where low draws will stay in and fold the river. However, I am assuming your typical talent garbage tables (large numbers of people to flop but people will fold once they don't have a draw or top pair on the flop).

Let's say you have AA97, such as your examples. Good flops include obviously an ace with no flush or straight hitting (especially an ace that can have people battling the low), non-connecting garbage flops (especially flops that will have people with possible lows building the pot like 8-5-2), and any 6-8 non-paired board (probably even 8-10-low card). I'd think you're also probably good if a flop with (2) 7s or (2) 9s hits.

But, once again, this is without researching the actual numbers. A system on sounds about right to me(no pun intended):

"Easy Point Count

For High:
Aces count as 30 points. Kings = 13, Queens = 12, Jacks = 11 and all other pairs equal their face values. A pair of 5’ is worth five points.

Two card flushes count 10 points with an ace. All others count 4 points . Three or four of same suite count as half.

Two card straight with no gap or one gap count as 2 points. (Ex: 8-9 or 8-T, ) High Cards:
Unpaired Ace = 4 points, King = 2points. For Low:
A-2 = 20 points
A-3 = 15 points, 2-3 = 10 points
A-4 = 10, 2-4, 3-4 = 5 points 2-3 = 10
A-5, 2-5, 3-5, 4-5 = 5 points

Add up the points for your four cards for the high count and the low count. Add them together."

and a min 25 points to play.