Dec. 15, 2012
Venturing to Omaha
The game I cut my teeth on was seven-card stud. I practically memorized George Percy's book, which at the time was the definitive text on the game. I practiced at home on one of the early tutorials. I dealt hand after hand on my dining room table. I stood on the rail and studied the game and the players before I handed over my buy-in.
Then came hold'em.
"It's the same as stud except that you share community cards with everyone in the pot," I was told.
Not believing them, I picked up tutorial software and spend several weeks hacking away at the game. I was right not to believe the comparison. The only thing the same about stud and hold'em is they are both played with a 52-card deck. As with my experiences in the stud games, luck held out in the hold'em foray. I never made a living but the wins and losses balanced themselves out enough to show a small profit after each monthly tally.
With the explosion of no-limit, the bottom line is rather wavy, but I keep plugging away, again resorting to books and software to hone my skills.
Lately, a friend has been urging me to play Omaha, and I've been resisting.
I've seen enough of these games to realize that what looks like a game that's similar to hold'em, that's where the comparison ends. Admittedly, I haven't watched much live-action Omaha, but the games I've observed make me wonder what the players could be thinking. It seemed as if everyone was in for the flop, even with one or two raises. With little experience, I'm sure this kind of game is too rich for me.
However, it's poker and it can't hurt to do some research.
The software I now own doesn't have an Omaha high-low game; it's high only, but that seemed like a good place to start. I bought in with $200 of virtual money, took my virtual seat and waited for the virtual cards to flow onto the computer screen.
My first hand might have been worth playing if the game were high-low. 2-7-8-6 rainbow. I folded, as I did the Q-J suited 10-4. I called the third hand, 3-10-10-J and folded to the second raise. Call me a coward but a pair of tens didn't seem like it was worth the extra two bets.
I was into my 11th hand before being dealt J-9-K-K. I was in late position so I raised. Everybody folded. Two hands later, my raise with a pair of aces had the same results.
On the 17th hand, I held 7-10-J-J. My raise scared everyone away, except for one player who called. The flop came J-Q-3. I bet and was raised. Did this fellow have a pair of queens; a pair of threes? I decided to get more information by throwing in a reraise, which he called.
Playing against a computer opponent isn't the same as playing against a living, breathing human being. People claim they can read cyber opponents; maybe they can. But I can't figure out how to get a read on a computer player. I thought he would have called if he had queens and reraised if he held threes.
I decided I'd bet on the turn (a three) and fold if he raised. He did. Now I was sure he was holding the queens. If he did, he'd have a better full house than I now held.
This software doesn't allow a replay of the hand and doesn't show down if you fold. I wanted to make sure I had read the hand right so even though I would have folded if this had been a live game, I called the raise. I wanted the hand to play out so I would know for certain that I'd made the right move.
The river card was a queen. I had to bet the last of my chips to force him to turn over the cards. I was right. He had me beat all the way back on the flop and to rub salt in my virtual wounds, he ended up with quad queens.
This wasn't much of a scientific experiment. It will take more practice before I'm ready to risk real money in a real Omaha game. Then again, I think I'll stick to hold'em and leave the other versions of poker to players who are much better than I.
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