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LOve8

While wifey Kim continued chatting away on the phone last night, I slid into my position on the couch and lowered the laptop and, what I affectionately call the Cancer Pillow, since it protects my junk from laptop exposure, onto my lap. I fired up FT, my compulsive choice between the three sites where I am currently funded (Stars and Bodog being the other two) and tried to choose a game.

I eyed wifey Kim, who was now on her second call of the evening while she half-heartedly deleted old mail from her Hotmail account on our desktop. She was talking about plans for this upcoming weekend with her HS friend who would be visiting home from out-of-state. I tried to figure the pot odds on wifey Kim continuing the conversation long enough to get in a good multi-table SNG. It was only her second call of the night, she was meeting a bunch of friends for a Sex & the City tour this weekend and she was also planning bridesmaid stuff for the antisemetic wedding coming up next week.

The chances looked good for a 2-table game, but I the last thing I wanted was to calculate my odds wrong and find myself with a tourney running and a very busy wifey Kim finally freed from her responsibilities. I could tell from my own flighty mood that I would be too prone to play poorly to spend time with my girl, so I did what any other respectable degenerate would do. I checked out the cash tables.

My first thought was Razz. I looked at the tables and jumped into one, losing two early hands thanks to good hands turning progressively worse. Down a few bucks, I clicked Sit Out and retreated to greener pastures. As much as I love Razz, it didn't feel like a Razz night. I wanted action, and I wanted variety. Razz can be a great game, not to mention profitable, but the smart way to play was to play tight and that just wasn't what I was looking for in my limited time.

I next clicked the Hold'em tab and perused the NLHE tables. I hovered over a couple of tables but felt the same feeling I had with Razz, only this time, without even sitting. It wasn't a NLHE night, largely because I could feel my need for action would be an immediate detriment. I wanted to have fun, but I wanted to win. Nothing is more fun than winning.

I clicked off of Hold'em and switched to Mixed Games. I saw a red table at the $1000/2000 level, and decided to double-click to see which FT pro was playing. It was Gavin Smith, a player I met briefly at the Bash two years ago. He is also someone I listen to regularly on PokerRoad radio. I'm not much for star gazing and hadn't watched a pro's table ever, from what I can recall, but knowing as much about the Caveman as I do from his radio show, I decided to watch a little bit of the action. The game was O8, and the Caveman was hovering around even, heads-up with a loose aggressive player. I watched for a few hands before closing the window and looking at the HORSE games I could afford. I found one and clicked through.

When I opened up the room, the game was Razz. Hmmm. Same problem as earlier. I just didn't have the right mindset for the Stud games, so I packed it in.

And then, inspiration hit like a bolt of lightning. Omaha 8! That was to be my destination. That is what piqued my interest at Gavin Smith's cash game and it was a game I was all to familiar with.

This may or may not surprise some of the newer readers, but if I had to choose any game of online poker, it would have to be Limit Omaha 8. I love the game. It's a perfect balance of crazy action and controlled odds. There are so many ways to win (or lose), and if you can get a good read on your table or, better yet, control your table, it can be a fun ride.

Make no doubt about it, suckouts happen in O8, so the Limit variety is wholly preferable to the Pot Limit variety. I had dabbled in that game as well, but found that the urge to push players out of pots when I was ahead, the limitation of betting pot or less, and the proclivity for chasers (and the opportunity for draws) makes PLO8 a high variance game. LO8, then, is the perfect alternative. Even at its worst, you can just go to call-down mode and already know how much you are going to spend on your stupid draw or stupid vulnerable hand (all hands are stupid in O8).

I was hoping for a 2/4 game, but settled in to the 3/6 game when I saw no 2/4 games going. I played well, bullying opponents into calling when I had hands and getting out of the way when I didn't. During the next 30 minutes, players joined and left, most discouraged. There was one other player at the table playing winning poker, and he and I basically bled chips slowly from our opponents (when they were not sucking out). After the four players left, it was just me and the other profitable guy. We played one hand and both sat out, our work done.

I'm a big fan of playing multiple games for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't. In my experience, when I follow that guy feeling that a game isn't right or that I am in the mood for this or that, good results follow. By playing a variety of games, I can choose my game based on my strengths at any given moment; if I want to fold a lot, I can play a token SNG. If I want to play lots of hands, I can play O8 (in moderation). If I want to play a strictly straightforward game, I have Razz. If I want to put more thought into my play, there is NLHE. If I want to shake things up there is HORSE (but never HOSE, because really, that's like ordering an ice cream sundae but then saying "hold the ice cream").

Before I exit, I will leave you with a hand narrative from my LO8 session. I am a big fan of following one's reads and this hand was just that.

Acting on instinct. At the river, only possible hand was AAXX or A234, and based on the fact that I had an Ace, I didnt think AA. Tough call pays off.

I was up to $126 from $100 playing 3/6 LO8 at a 6-handed table. I was in the CO with AK75, double suited. The player UTG raised to $6 and I decided to call. 6-handed AK75 ds is a marginal hand. If I hit a low with A5, A7 or 57, I can very easily be behind. However, my cards were fairly well coordinated, I had a bit of momentum behind me, and I was controling the table well. I also had position, which is always nice. All of these things factored in to my decision. After calling, the button folded, but the SB, Spartak, raised to $9. The BB folded and Baron called. I called as well, even though part of me wanted to fold.

The flop came down K99 with two diamonds. My AK meant that I held two pair, Kings and Nines, with the nut kicker. My 7 and 5 were of diamonds, so I also had a weak flush draw. It was also apparent from the flop that no one would be taking the low.

None of these hands I just mentioned are particularly strong. However, when Spartak bet out and Baron folded, I opted for a call. I thought about Spartak's hand range. My biggest fear was AAxx. A 9XXX didn't make sense, since middle cards like 9s are the worst hands to play in O8, since they can't make a low and rarely are good for a high. His re-raise preflop suggested that he had decent cards underneath, and other than AA9x double suited, I couldn't imagine why he would hold a 9. AAxx was the real concern, as any other pocket pair was behind me. Flush draws were also a concern, but until the flush card hit, I wouldn't worry about it.

The turn was an offsuit 8. Spartak bet out $6 fast. Too fast. I called again. The same facts held true. Aside from AAxx, there were no hands that beat me and made sense here. 88 wasn't likely, especially considering the preflop action.

The river was an offsuit 3. Spartak bet out $6 once agian. I took my time, letting the clock run down as I replayed the hand in my head. AAxx. That was all that I had to be concerned about. However, it is not enough to say that only one hand could beat me and therefore I call. That's a losing way to play poker in limit games, particularly LO8, where players have obviously more possibilities to have that "one hand". I clicked the TIME button, securing myself a few more seconds to make my decision. AAxx. OR A234. It came to me like a vision. It was always a possibility, but not one I had considered post-flop. Many players play the low cards like they are the nuts. Once that flop comes off, his low cards are crap, but it is all too easy to still want to win. I considered the possibility that my opponent had a bunch of low cards, likely with a nut flush draw on the flop. It would make sense preflop, since the scoopable hand could cause Spartak to re-raise, particularly with his proclivity for aggressive play, observed over several hands. Once the flush draw came, he may have tried to bet his way to the river, hoping to hit and take the pot. When it didn't come, he probably made one of the more common mistakes in LO8, a river bet designed to win the pot once and for all, even though he didn't have the goods. It was all speculation, but it made sense in the context of the hand. I resigned myself to one of two fates: he had AAxx and I was cooked or his low cards with a flush draw did not come in, and he was making a desperation bet on the end. My head said fold, but my heart and ergo my finger said call.

At showdown, Spartak showed AQJ3, with the AQ of diamonds. I won the pot, $57. Frankly, I gave the farker too much credit. Only one more reason to love LO8.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 4:41 PM,

2 Comments:

At 6:55 PM, Blogger Weak Player said...

I think irradiating your nuts is under-rated. Go without the pillow. You will thank me later.

 
At 4:28 PM, Blogger RaisingCayne said...

I've become a really big fan of O8 recently myself, and have found these cash tables to be very profitable. Seems the average internet donkey doesn't understand as much of basic strategy for this game as NLHE and other poker variants. (Although I will say I've definitely preferred PLO8 more than the limit variety, but to each their own.)

Hey, I wanted to tell ya, thanks again for the Stars transfer from your little contest recently... I've been able to manage my way up to a minor bankroll over there again, as I've grinded my way up over $50 now. It's a start.

 

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