All over the world right now, people are having to stay home to stay safe. If we want to play poker these days we can only do it online. For mixed games players there are several options for playing online poker. This is my first attempt at a mixed games poker strategy blog post. The material here is taken from an online no limit omaha hilo tournament. Whenever I win an online tournament I spend some time reviewing the hand history to identify where I can improve my game.
Although my hand history review was focussed on my own play, I will keep any lessons learned to myself. The thing I want to share in this post is how other players misplayed their hands. The tournament game was No Limit Omaha Hilo. In this particular variant I find that even regular players make huge errors all the time and I want to highlight some of the common mistakes.
Before I go on I want to point out that I do not have any Heads Up Display (HUD) stats to share. I do own both Hold Em Manager 2 and Poker Tracker 4 but stopped using them some time ago. My preference these days is to try to play games that are not easy to solve using HUDs. When I used these tools I was playing 8 – 20 tables at a time. These days I limit my tables to 4 and usually there are even less. This way I am more able to follow game flow. It allows me to rely on more traditional poker reads. I always strive to be cognisant of player tendencies and mathematical concepts. What helps is that I colour-tag players and take notes.
Hand 69 – One Way Marginal Hand
Let’s look at a hand at level 7 – 60/120(a15). I was in the cutoff with AhJs5s3s and min-raised. The button and big blind both called.
After the big blind checked I bet 360 into the pot of 795. I don’t expect my opponents to have A2 / 42 / 44 very often as some of those hands will 3-bet preflop and others will fold. For this reason I am happy to build a pot with my huge draw and feel fairly safe that I won’t be reraised off the pot. Only the button called.
Not my favourite turn card, I still have no real made hand and if my opponent turned a flush I am drawing dead for high. I check with the intention of folding to a bet but my opponent checked behind.
Excellent card for me, I can get value from other nut lows that have no high hand or other straights that don’t have nut low. I bet 600 into the 1515 pot and my opponent called with Ad9d7h5d and I scooped the pot.
Opponent mistake number 1. He called bets on the flop and the river with a hand that can only ever expect to have equity on one side (low) and will often be getting quartered or scooped. This is a very common poker strategy mistake that people make in split pot games like Omaha Hilo and Sviten Special. Investing money in a poker hand where if things turn out the best possible way you will only receive half of the pot, and you will quite often receive nothing, is a long term losing play.
Hand 71 – Limping Preflop / Calling Too Light Postflop
Moving onto hand 71, still in level 7. I have 4627 chips (38.5 big blinds) in the big blind and check after seeing under the gun and button limp. My hand: Ah8s7c5c.
Bingo: I have the nut high! No sense in checking here as I can get value from low draws and other aces. I lead for 495 – full pot. Only the button calls.
Even though the button often has the other ace, I don’t expect him to hold the Q with it very often so I still want to bet to get value. So I bet 1485, again full pot. No sense sizing down as this is an excellent opportunity to get some value. He calls.
Not the best river card as there is now a further combination of cards that beat me. However I still expect to get some calls from other Ax and also from flushes so I set my opponent all in and he calls with As7h6c2c. I scoop the pot and send him out of the tournament.
Opponent mistake number 2: This opponent made his first poker strategy error in not raising preflop with a strong, albeit one-way, hand. I would have folded preflop and he would have won a small pot instead of losing his whole stack.
Opponent mistake number 3: having hit a strong but not nut holding he should have found a fold at some stage in the hand. He was facing a value range that had him crushed.
Hand 99 – Overplayed Aces
This hand took place at level 9, blinds 100/200 and 25 ante. I began the hand with 12867 chips which is 64 big blinds. Under the gun player folds and I make a minimum raise in the cutoff with AsQsTh2s. Button folds and small blind raises to 10 big blinds, leaving himself just less than 32 big blinds behind. Big blind folds and I call in position.
The small blind now shoves his remaining stack of 6340 into a pot of 4325. Having paired 3 cards I block all his made hands that beat me. This is typically how some players play aces on a flop they perceive to have missed both players. I call. The next image shows his hand and the board runout:
The opponent used a good sizing preflop, raising a bit more than pot from out of position with a hand that is almost always best preflop but will have some tricky flops to play. Postflop however his poker strategy was more questionnable…
Opponent mistake number 4: having seen one of those tricky flops show up, the decision this person made was to risk the rest of his stack. The other options open to him were check/fold, check/jam, check/call, bet/fold, bet/call and bet/jam. All of these would have been preferable in my view. The best option I think is to bet around 1400 and fold if jammed on. By choosing to shove his stack in he took all the bluffs out of my range.
Over-Using the Preflop All In
I don’t have any specific hand to illustrate this, opponent mistake number 5. Going through the hand history I notice a relatively high proportion of situations where opponents jam all in with a stack size of say 15 big blinds, and often considerably more.
Sure, at times the blinds and antes are picked up as a result of this move. There are even times when it is probably good poker strategy with these stack sizes. For example if the players behind you are much more short stacked, especially near the bubble.
Overall however I notice a lack of inclination to take lines that involve postflop play. Making smaller preflop raises and then playing well postflop is surely much more profitable.
Hand 300: Exploitable and Expensive Lines
Moving right on to the final table now and level 21 (900/1800 a225). Having played a decent number of hands with one of my opponents I had picked up a read on him. He would raise frequently from the button (a good poker strategy of course) using a full pot sizing. He would then continuation bet too often and again use full pot sizing. The frequency with which he was doing this led me to believe his starting hand range in these spots was anything playable. When he then makes a flop continuation bet 100% of the time he has too many bluffs in his range.
In this hand I have over 196k chips for 109 big blinds. My opponent has 142k (79 BBs). He raises full pot preflop and I call in the big blind with Qd7d4c2c. It is not a wonderful hand but I am not necessarily wanting to take this hand to showdown!
This is the perfect flop for me to exploit his tendencies. These factors are at play:
- I can checkraise all in against his standard pot sized continuation bet, the stack sizes being reasonable for that.
- He will then fold a lot of hands that have equity against me. Some better low draws, straight draws, back door flush draws, one pair with live side cards, overcards. Even some Qxxx where his kicker is higher.
- A decent portion of the range he will continue with are hands I am doing well against. These are A2xx and A3xx with not much equity on the high side.
As expected, he does continuation bet the flop. I shove my stack in and he folds.
Opponent mistake number 6: By using this sizing he has lost about 11.5 big blinds from his 79 big blind stack. If he had made a lower preflop raise, say to 2.25 big blinds, his continuation bet could have been maybe 2.5 big blinds. The pot is much smaller so a shove from me makes less sense. My hand becomes much more tricky to play, as does a lot of my range.
That opponent busted out against me in a similar situation about 3 orbits later. That time his stack was lower, the blinds were bigger and he stuck to the same sizing. When I check/shoved I had the low hand locked up and had a flush draw for the high. He had flopped top pair and no prospect of low, no blockers against the flush draw.
The tournament ended pretty quickly in heads up play as I had a dominating chip stack and I was lucky that my opponent found no decent spots to chip up.
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