One of the easiest ways to lose money in Pot Limit Omaha is to place too much value on your non-nut flushes. If you have a ten high flush, you’ll want to exercise pot control and not be afraid of folding to a raise. We’re going to look at a situation that’s very common in the game to help you understand where players like you go wrong all the time.
Let’s say you’re in the first position and are dealt this very nice hand: AdAh5s9s. The small blind calls your raise of $3.50 and the flop hits: Js9d2s. The small blind checks and you fire back a pot-sized bet with the flush draw in front of you and the overpair you’re holding. The small blind calls and the pot are now at $21. The turn completes your spades flush with a three: 2s3s5s9sJs.
What should you do? If you’re a no limit hold ’em player that’s just moving to Omaha, you’re going to be very excited: you’ve made a flush! However, you need to be careful about your bet: you could win a small pot or lose a very big one and it all hinges on what you do with the river.
Let’s take a look at what hands your opponent might have: you should expect him to have called the flop with all his flush draws, most of his straight draws and occasionally a hand like J2xx if he somehow called with that preflop thanks to some strange premonition. If he flopped three of a kind, he’ll usually have check raised the flop rather than slow played because of all the possible draws that could hit on the turn – that would put him in a tough position of not knowing where he’s at.
So, unless he’s a complete dummy, he should be folding the two pairs he might have since the obvious flush draw hit and he will certainly stop trying to draw to a straight, as he will expect to often be drawing dead. In short, if we bet and he calls – it’s likely that he has a flush, and the math says that it’s likely a higher one.
Theoretically, if we bet the pot and he check-raised us for the pot, that’d commit us to putting our whole stack in. This is where the novice gets screwed, for lack of a better phrase: they think they’re going to win a lot of money and instead end up handing over a lot of cash to their opponent. So, how do you play the turn?
You should check. By check, you keep the size of the pot small with the midrange flush and then we can see what the opponent does on the river. If he’s going for a straight, and the king of diamonds hits, he could try leading you into the hand expecting to beat you but we get to call without he winning hand. Also, because you checked back the turn he will be much more likely to put you on a bluff if you now choose to bet and because of this those J3xx hands he might have folded on the turn may now pay off a value bet.
There are other possibilities of course, but the core here is that you need to remember to play very cautiously with small flushes. Omaha is a game of the nut and if you’re not holding them, then you need to be conservative.