A bold check-raise in Omaha/8 does the trick

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By Jay Houston

Since I started playing poker eight years ago I have read hundreds of poker blogs. I’m always curious to see how players take their games to the next level. What I found in common in all of those blogs was that every young player’s game was kicked up a notch when they started discussing advanced strategy with players who were playing higher than them.

I was fortunate enough to hang out with some of the biggest names in online poker during the World Series of Poker this summer and I got to talk some mixed-game strategy. I was in a hotel room and a couple of the guys started talking about a fixed-limit Omaha/8 hand. I found it very interesting so I thought I would share.

Playing a $400-$800 seven-game, our hero was in the big blind with {a-Hearts}{j-Diamonds}{4-Diamonds}{2-Clubs}. The button raised and our hero called to see a flop of {k-Spades}{q-Hearts}{10-Hearts}. Our hero, who flopped the nuts, led out and the villain helped him cap it. The turn brought the 8S for a second flush draw and once again the players capped the pot.

The river brought the {k-Hearts} to complete one of the flush draws and pair the board. Here is where it gets interesting: After our hero decided to check, the villain took a few seconds and put out a bet, and then our hero check-raised! The villain tanked and then folded as our hero scooped.

Basically what happened was both players flopped the nuts and capped it until the river. Our hero knew the villain had A-J-X-X at the very least and would not fold to a bet on the river. By checking he left the villain to a decision to bet the scary board for a value bluff or to check behind and save money on rake. When the villain bet, our hero took the gamble of risking an extra bet to win the entire pot and prevent the chop. His gamble was hoping he wasn’t freerolled by a hand like A-J-K-10, but since our hero had the {a-Hearts} in his hand it increases the play’s chances of success.

I can honestly say if I were in this situation a few months ago, check-raising definitely would not have been in my arsenal. But now it is, and I hope it’s in yours as well.

— Jay Houston is a young poker pro and is a sit-n-go specialist. You can email him at editor@anteupmagazine.com