It's a familiar refrain at the
Omaha/8 table, when the
betting is capped on the turn in
a multi-way pot. In theory, this
request is about saving time --
it's easier to divide the chips at
the end of the hand when
they're not in one monster pile
at the center of the table.
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Greg Mascio
Lesson: 18
Dealer, Leave the Bets in Front of the Players
July 18, 2005


It's a familiar refrain at the Omaha/8 table, when the betting is capped on
the turn in a multi-way pot. In theory, this request is about saving time -- it's
easier to divide the chips at the end of the hand when they're not in one
monster pile at the center of the table. But the subtext is clear. "Give us the
damn river already!"

It's often just one pot like this one that makes the difference at the end of
the day between winner and loser, genius and live one. And playing these
hands correctly goes a long way toward determining one's success in this
sometimes volatile game.

Other than catching gin on the river, however, how does one go about
getting out as cheaply as possible when beat, and maximizing profit when
holding the nuts?

The first and most important thing, especially in Omaha/8, is knowing where
you're at on every street. Many players will simply not throw a hand away
even when they're sure they're beat in a big pot. They call it down just to find
out what they were right about four bets ago.

A typical hand where you can get into trouble is flopping two pair with a hand
like A-3-6-K. The flop comes A-3-J, with a flush draw you don't hold. You're
first to act and fire a bet into the pot. It then gets raised, called, called and
three-bet by the time it gets back to you. You very well could be drawing
extremely thin at this point. If an Ace comes, it's likely you hold the
second-best full house. If you catch a King on the turn, your two pair might
be beat by the 10-Q-K wrap who called all those bets on the flop. If a 6
comes, you're still likely beat by Aces and Jacks, and all the made lows and
flush draws are Freerolling on you.

Still, most unseasoned players call in this spot nearly 100 percent of the time.
Why? One reason is because average-to-below-average players rarely ever
make a bet and subsequently fold on the same street. I almost never see
this. To be a winning player, especially in O/8, you have to be able to lay
down your losers.

On the other hand, say that same A-3-J flop comes down and you hold
A-2-4-5 with the nut flush draw. Yes, you have a monster. You're first to act
and bet, and again it gets raised and three bet. This time you cap it. The turn
comes a deuce. Now it's time to make extra bets.

With all the action that came behind you on the flop, you can be almost
certain someone will bet if you check. You check, which puts the thought into
the other player's mind that you may have been counterfeited, or at best are
holding a set. After a bet and a few calls, now you are in position to make
that check raise -- and you might not even lose some of the people drawing
dead! Excuse No. 1 why a losing player calls when drawing dead? "The pot is
too big."

If you had bet out on the turn when the deuce hit after capping it on the flop,
any above-average player would most likely put you on your hand and you
won't get any action. That same player may still call your check-raise,
perhaps hoping to fill up on the end, but at least he will have to pay to get
there.

There are a lot of large multi-way pots in O/8. It's easy to be tempted by the
amount of money in the center of the table. But, like in most forms of poker, a
hand that is usually strong heads-up or three handed simply doesn't carry
the same weight in a multi-way pot against multiple draws. And in O/8, you
might have to fend off five or six players, each holding four cards in their
hand. It's just flat tough to make two pair on the flop hold up in that case.

Omaha-Eight-or-Better is all about holding the nuts or at least drawing to
them. Its one reason why A-2 with two blanks -- like say 8-10 -- is such a
dangerous hand. It gets played pre-flop almost every time, yet it rarely gets
more than half the pot, and costs too much when the low that doesn't get
there.

Hands that work together for both high and low, like A-2-Q-K or A-2-4-K (I'll
take mine double suited, thanks) are key. "Nut-Nut" is a beautiful thing,
especially at the end of a monster pot where the dealer has to do nothing
with all those chips in front of everybody but push them to you.

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