YOU CAN JUST PIN THEM TO BEING A PREDICTABLE TYPE

One of the playing strategies is to shut the doors of signals, not talk via the chat window, turning in to the rocky player who is pretty poker blank, not revealing anything at all. This means you will not be revealing any kind of detail to players around. When someone does all this, it becomes difficult for the opponent to be actually reading out what you are up to. The signals are going to be totally blocked.
Unpredictable players frequently begin playing with a locked style of play, and then they attempt a more unlock method of playing, and then come back to a locked method of playing as they arrive at higher level competitions. They simply have a set of strategies and approaches, which they mix up as they play. They just do not have a standard pattern of playing. Sometimes they play craps, some times they go too choosy, you cannot just pin them to being of a certain type.
Another approach is to be further more open and talkative, converse with the other players whilst the game is being played. This is to be able to work to not only divert the players from the game and flouting their attention, but it also provides to open up more blocked players and having them give away some clues and tells of their strengths and weaknesses.

PREVIEW OF NEW POKER SLOT MACHINE

I just spent several interesting hours playing Omaha and hold’em poker in a friend’s basement. But there were no other human players in the room. I was playing with the two prototype models of my new poker slot machines, which are called Cappelletti’s Omaha Poker Challenge and the Holdem Poker Challenge. So here is a preview of coming distractions. These machines evolved from the “Omaha Solitaire” game described in my Sept. 8, 1989, Card Player article. Both machines function similarly and essentially allow the player to compete against five random computer “opponents”; the Omaha machine deals four card hands, and the hold’em machine deals two card hands.

As you approach the machine you will see my ugly picture puffing on a big cigar. You start the game by putting one dollar (other units will be available) into the machine. In the Omaha version a four card hand is then displayed upon the screen. If you do not like this first hand, you have the free option of rejecting it and getting a new four card hand (Kenny Rogers will like this feature). If you wish to raise with either the first hand or the forced second hand, you may do so and put in a second dollar. After so indicating your before-the-flop options, three board cards (the “flop”) are displayed. From this point on you have the usual poker options:

Fold – end this hand, conceding money already invested.
Call – enter another dollar & see the next card.
Raise – enter two more dollars & see next card.

If you elect to fold, the game ends, and you lose the one (or two if raised before the flop) dollar invested, and the machine is ready for another game. If you call or raise, the fourth board (”turn”) card is displayed. You now have the same options as after the flop, namely, fold, call, or raise. If you now call or raise, the fifth (last) card is displayed. You again have the options of folding (conceding previous bets), calling (entering another dollar) or raising (entering two dollars).

If you either call or raise after the fifth (last) card, then there is the showdown between you and the five other computer “players”, whose randomly dealt four-card hands have been hidden thus far. If any of the five random hands, now displayed, make a better Omaha poker hand than your hand (in Omaha use exactly two cards from the four-card hands and three from the five-card board), then you lose (whatever money you bet). If you have the best hand, you win twice the amount you have invested (and also get your invested money back). If you tie one or more of the five opponents, you win the amount you bet (and get your bet money back).

If you press the “all-in” button before entering any coin, the machine will then complete the hand (without further betting), and whatever money you bet will be either lost, paid double (win), or paid single (tie), as above. Note that this all-in feature may be used on any hand as an alternative to folding, and thus provides additional options which would probably not be tolerated in real play.

When the above games were being simulated to estimate the house “hold”, it became clear that a precise evaluation of either game was impossible, since all potential strategies have not yet been conceived. Against very weak players the “hold” will be somewhere around ten percent or more, depending mostly on how a player procedes after the flop (of course the single most important strategy is to fold a lot of hands after the flop). Against skilled players, the hold will be (at most) a skinny few percents (we hope), thus, expect a waiting line to play.

It seems likely that these machines will become very popular, since they are a lot more fun to play than conventional poker slots. After we get a better feel for the “hold”, these machines will probably be banked together with a royal flush jackpot. Hopefully you will start seeing the production versions of these machines in your favorite casino sometime this Fall.

ACTIVE VS PASSIVE OMAHA GAMES

Most poker players think they prefer active games, that is, looser (as opposed to tighter), with a lot of betting and bigger pots. Whereas these active games are certainly more interesting (fun?) and have greater potential for big wins, the more dull passive games generally afford a professional high Omaha player a greater percentage of winning sessions, and, if you will forgive the expression, provide greater job security.As used here, “passive” game does not refer to an ultra tight game where only one or two players and the blinds see the flop. You simply should not play in such a game. A passive game may seem somewhat tight because, since there is less betting and raising, the pots are smaller. But if there is a lot of loose calling, then the passive game is one of the most favorable of all poker games!

Several months ago we discussed the concept of the “bulk” game, referring to a typical table where too many players (collectively) were seeing the flops. Note well that it would be difficult to win under casino conditions (with rake), if you were NOT playing in a bulk game. Luckily, almost all Omaha games seem to be bulk games (with some rare exceptions, like some of the 4/8 games at Binions). So to be more precise, what we are really discussing here is a comparison between “active bulk” Omaha games versus “passive bulk” Omaha games.

So what are the advantages of passive games? Why does an expert limit high Omaha player seldom lose at a bulk passive table (if you like numbers, probably less than one out of five times)? Since, by definition, in a bulk game, more than half the players usually see the flop (again, you should not be playing in the game otherwise), the house rake is offset, and there is money to be had. In high Omaha there is a blessed amount of skill involved in seeing the flop and betting after the flop. It is certainly easier to win when you are one of the few players who raise before the flop (of course mostly in later positions). It is certainly an advantage when you get to do more than your share of the betting, and when you see most of your good draws at bargain rates. And more generally, it is a great advantage when you have some degree of control over the betting. In an active game, most of those “skill” advantages are seriously diminished or non-existent.

In active games you can lose a lot more money when you are not hitting, when you are getting last carded, or when you are bluffed or pressured out of a win. Although there must be some ideal active games with a high skill factor (finder’s fee considered), usually the extra action actually diminishes many of the skill factors of the game. If there is just one “dangerous” player (not necessarily a good player, but most typically one who makes frequent, perhaps even arbitrary, bets and raises) in the game, a skillful player can usually take advantage of the situation by making appropriate adjustments (like changing seats and by calling more). But, when there are several lunatics (or perhaps just one whose lunacy
seems to be contagious), their antics are often compounded and can create annoying
and costly big money gambling situations (thereby introducing yet another “wrong place at the wrong time” luck factor, reminiscent of certain detestable high low situations).

In active games, although there is some increase in big pot “poker” skills (ie. just knowing when to hold’em or to fold’em), often even these skills are greatly diminished with the onset of uncontrollable showdown like situations. In the extreme case where almost every hand is capped out before the flop, much of the expert’s delicate flop seeing judgment has been obviated. And the odds often require that you fish along after the flop, gamble more money, and shoot-it-out. Obviously, when playing in this mode, luck is more dominant and a run of bad luck means big losses. The expert’s by-session results in a very active high Omaha game have a much greater deviation (perhaps two or three times greater) than his passive game results. But, on the other hand, if the active game is truly “overall favorable” (all factors considered), the expert’s net dollar expectation or average win should be higher in the active games in the long run (essentially, the stakes are higher).

Usually your main skill advantage in these extremely active games is achieved by playing mostly prime quality starting hands. Quality starting hands not only give you better primary holdings (which keep you playing after the flop and win say 20% or more), but quality hands also have a greater likelihood of hitting secondary paydirt (”plan B” or “swoozle” hits) say around 5% of the time (which 5% can make a big overall difference in your finances). However, players who play very tight in these situations and sit out a conspicuous number of hands are more subject to short run bad luck, and may encounter hostility problems that are generally bad for business. For example, if “locksmith” tendencies become too obvious, certain fun-loving (sadistic) opponents may choose to verbalize abuses (which talk can be costly if it tips off an otherwise oblivious likely caller into a rare correct fold). Sometimes a tight player might even trigger tacit or spontaneous hostile betting conspiracies (ie. “let’s get the locksmith”), which may or may not work out to his advantage, but would be best avoided for long run considerations.

If you can work out an optimal formula for playing in a given active game (probably not super tight but rather some degree tighter than most of the other players, see my article on “relativity”, March 20, 1992), you should be able to win more money overall than in passive games (ie. in the long run, if there is one). But, again, since the deviation in these active games is much higher, you should be prepared to have a higher percentage of losing sessions than in the safer passive games.

All in all, action games, if not adversely extreme, do have the potential to generate large wins – especially when you are running well. This is particularly true when you know the players and perhaps have some extra “personal” advantages going for you. However, when it comes to putting bread on the table, there is also much to be said for the greater skill advantages and security that you get at a passive table. Bottom line: active games are more like gambling, passive games are more like working.

RAISING BEFORE THE FLOP

At high four card Omaha, raising before the flop strategy is much more complicated than at holdem. There are a number of good hand situations where it is better not to raise. And there are a number of medium good hand situations where raising before the flop is highly recommended. Generally, raising before the flop tends to tighten up initial calling and loosen up the rest of the game.

Perhaps the simplest approach is for the prospective raiser to become more aware of his specific objectives. Most specific objectives are highly dependent on position. A raise before the flop in an early seat tends to cut down on attendance. This is clearly desireable if your hand features a high pair, for example, two aces and not much else.

If your raise or reraise cuts attendance to only a few callers, your aces might even hold up and win the pot. However if you raise with aces in a late position, the bigger pot will usually attract more callers after the flop who often outdraw you and also make the pot harder to steal – both factors reducing your overall chances of winning. Thus, with “bad aces”, it is better not to raise before the flop in a late position. Save the money and perhaps bet a weak flop.

A raise in late position is unlikely to fold previous callers, and is best made with good drawing hands which like company after the flop, such as two high flush couples (”couple” is my new term for a two card holding) or a super wrap (four in a row). More money in the pot attracts more callers after the flop and improves the money odds of your draw. Note that if you happen to find yourself in a game where there are always a lot of callers after the flop (”fishing in”), it is probably right to never raise before the flop. In Omaha even the best starting hands get a good flop well under half of the time, so why invest early money if it is unnecessary.

At most normal Omaha games, a single raise before the flop is best to accomplish your objectives. The pot is large enough to attract flies, yet small enough to get away from. Many players seem to play Omaha with holdem mentality and reraise before the flop too often. It is my opinion that a skillful player should want to reraise before the flop only when a substantial reduction in attendance is likely. The extra plus that you get with a great starting hand is often more than offset by the many post flop skill advantages that you lose when the pots get too large.

The four general skill areas in Omaha, where a skillful player gets most of his edge, are, actions after the flop, actions before the flop, and making good “poker” judgments before and after the last card. Reraising invites capping, and when pots are large or capped out before the flop (ie. all three raises) the skill involved in the three post-flop areas is greatly reduced. You have fewer options, your good

but not lock hands are subject to the mercies of other player’s dangerous whims, and these hands frequently regress to showdown. Once a pot has been capped out before the flop, there is not much difference between skillful players and lesser players.

One of your advantages in Omaha is that most opponents make less than optimum decisions after the flop – most often calling too loosely on smaller pots. When the pots get very large before the flop, most long shots are justified, thus these loose players are now calling correctly.

Holdem players may better appreciate the above if they are aware that the best starting hands in four card Omaha hold up to win the pot somewhat less than the best (reraise) starting hands at holdem. For example, using Mike Caro’s Poker Probe, if you play two aces at holdem against five opponents who never fold, the two aces hold up just under half the time; two kings win around 43% of the time. The best high Omaha hand, AAKK double suited, against five non-folding opponents, wins only around 35% of the time, and you will hold this hand less than once in 45,000. A more typical fine Omaha hand rates to hold up a good deal less frequently (eg. AA75 double suited wins around 28%). Otherwise put, if you really want good odds, wait for the flop.

The best high-low split Omaha hand, AA23 double suited, wins a whopping 40% of the time (versus five non-folding opponents), and don’t say that it never comes up! Ernie Martinez of Maryland picked up that hand at the final table of the recent Four Queens Omaha High-Low Championship. In five way action he reraised before the flop, locked up low on the turn, and caught a third heart on the river to scoop a hugh pot, propelling him into third place overall.