Blockers in pot-limit Omaha are a big part of the game. A blocker is when you have one or two cards needed to have the absolute best hand possible.
EXAMPLE 1: The flop is –– and we have –-1–. We hold the nut club blocker, so no one can have the nut flush. We should win this pot a high percentage of the time by bluffing.
EXAMPLE 2: The flop is –– and our hand is –––. We have two of the four 10s in the deck needed to have the nut straight, so the chances of our opponents having a 10 and a jack are small. This is a great spot to bluff.
Recognizing someone’s tells online that they’re playing only blockers is not easy because it requires a lot of courage to go with your read, and hero calls in PLO are not something you want to be doing too frequently. But occasionally there are times when a player overplays their blockers in a manner where there is no way they would play it the same way if they truly had the nuts.
EXAMPLE: For a replay of what I am about to share with you, I highly recommend you check out DonkReview.com to watch the hand.
INFORMATION: The game is $2-$4 deep, ante, heads-up PLO. We’ve been playing our opponent for about 20 hands and we know he’s a decent and capable player who has made one or two moves on us so far. The effective stack is $700.
PREFLOP: I’m in the big blind with –––. My opponent raises his button and I make a loose call to balance my range.
FLOP: –– and we both check.
TURN: , which makes a flush possible. I check and my opponent bets pot ($28). I now raise to $76. Our opponent three-bets pot to $256. I four-bet all-in. My opponent folds.
ANALYSIS: It might just look like I’m spewing chips and it’s a battle of who has the bigger heart, but let’s break the hand down.
We passively checked the flop and our opponent checked behind in position. The chances of him having a king-high flush draw that he checked behind is unlikely, but possible.
We passively checked the turn and then our opponent bet pot. Why would he do this? What is he expecting us to call with? Is he betting for value or to protect his hand? A high percentage of the time he’s just trying to steal the pot, so we make a standard check-raise and that’s where things get interesting.
Our opponent then three-bet pot on a flush board when he’s in position. Why? If he actually had the best possible hand, why would he scare off weaker hands such as bad flushes? If he just called he could get a lot of money out of us on the river. He knows we would never check-raise with two pair or a set so he’s rarely trying to protect his hand. The most logical conclusion is he has the and knows we shouldn’t be calling a raise. But because of how our opponent unrealistically overplayed his blocker trying to represent the nuts, we can take advantage by moving all-in and forcing him to fold.
I’m not saying this is how you should play this hand every time, but if you can rationalize these situations, there’s a lot of value in recognizing blockers when playing against solid players.
— Jay Houston is an instructor with DeepStacks.com and is a sit-n-go specialist. You can email him at email@example.com