Tuesday, September 11, 2007

PLO Cash Game Strategy - Blockers

More thoughts on PLO cash games today... (back to S*N%Gs tomorrow with some ICM questions!)

Wanted to mention an apparent contradiction concerning starting hands and post flop play in Omaha poker cash games...

Pre-flop suitedness is desirable in addition to connectedness... so 4-5-7-8 (a very nice starting hand!) would be considered even better if there were for example 2 hearts and 2 spades.

The contradiction comes because most post-flop advice in Omaha poker emphasises that you should only draw to the nuts (or close to the nuts)...

So, the question becomes why are low suited cards (or in fact any non-ace or king-high) suited cards so desirable before the flop?? After all drawing to an 8-high flush would be PLO poker suicide!!

There are actually 2 answers, the first concerns 'blockers' and the second is more to do with back-door draws and winning by accident! The second part (along with chances of your opponent(s) having some of your outs) is another post for another day. Here I wanted to build on the PLO poker strategy thoughts so far by introducing the concept of blockers and how they might affect your play at the table.

We will go with the 4-5-7-8 hand for an example... 2 hearts and 2 spades.... you raise pre-flop and get 2 callers. The flop then comes down Ks-3s-6d, a great flop for you with the 4 remaining 2's and 6 remaining 4's or 5s giving you a straight + an even bigger number of turn cards that could give you even more outs on the river.

You lead and one opponent sticks in a big re-raise.

Let us look at the scenario where he has one of 2 holdings... either trip kings with no spades or the nut spade flush draw. Do not want to get too mathematical here, there are plenty of software tools available for working out the exact percentages and optimal play... instead let us look at how your holding affects your chances.

1) Opponent has KKK - but no spades, you now have the flush cards as outs (see previous PLO strategy post on 'Kill Cards' here - he has redraws to a full house!)

2) Opponent has the nut flush draw only... He probably thinks he has 9 outs, 2 spades on the board and 2 in his hand mean that there are 49 unseen cards of which 9 are wins.

In both scenarios the spades you hold influence things - if he has the flush draw he actually only has 7 outs and not the expected 9. Thats a reduction of 28% in the chances of him making the hand... your spades have acted as 'Blockers' to his flush.

Suitedness affects hand strength after the flop by reducing your opponents chances of successfully drawing. Now imagine that instead of a draw yourself you have a made hand, trips for example, and you believe your opponent is drawing to a flush that you have 2 (or even 3) blockers for - a great opportunity to get the money in as a big favourite!!

More PLO poker cash game strategy thoughts next week...

GL at the tables, Mark

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