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Making Diabolic Reads in Omaha Poker

10 June 2008, By:
Reading opponents' cards is an art, but in Omaha you sometimes have extra information that can make you appear almost diabolic in your card reading accuracy.

We've all seen it with the pros, how they'll say something along the lines of "I'm gonna lay down my trips of aces because I know you just hit a baby straight to your 5-2". But when you're at the table yourself, you often feel that the opponents can hold just about anything, card reading is not that easy.

A clear picture emerges

In specific situations, though, you'll be able to narrow things down quite well. Like when a late position player flat calls your pre-flop raise and then four-raises your A-K all in on the A-K-6 flop. You can just smell that set of sixes.

Several things speak against him holding A-A or K-K: his call pre-flop and the fact that two aces and two kings are already taken.

He could have something else than 6-6, but you would probably be ready to put a few dollars behind a bet on his hand in this situation. Which is what you do when you fold your top two pair, by the way.

Extra hole cards wall in the possibilities

In special Omaha situations, things can get even more clear-cut. When your additional hole cards relate strongly to the board, you gain extra information that can be extremely valuable for your card reading effort.

Let's say you hold K-K-Q-7 and opt to see an unraised flop. The flop comes A-K-7. An early position player bets out and you call. The turn is a 4, he bets again and this time you go over the top with a pot-sized reraise.

The moment he goes into the tank, you just know what he's holding, and you tell it to him in the chat:

"You have A-7?"

"How the hell can you know? Can you see my cards? You're too f-g good for this level."

If he didn't respect you before this, he will now.

Use your hidden information against them

But since he can't see your hand, he can't know how easy your read came to be. What else could he be playing with? The reasonable hands are probably limited to A-A, 7-7, A-K, A-7, K-7, and possibly Q-J-T.

When he starts thinking, you know he's not holding aces. That would be an insta shove (quick all-in move).

The plausibility of the other hands are strongly influenced by your holdings, including the additional hole cards. For example, there's only one way for him to hold 7-7: the remaining two sevens.

There are three ways to hold A-K and two ways for K-7. On the other hand, for A-7 there are six favorable combinations, turning this hand into a big favorite, and a qualified guess.

With one queen taken, the basic plausibility for Q-J-T is comparable to that of A-K. For the argument, though, let's pretend you think he would probably have raised pre-flop with that kind of big drawing hand.

Show off your read

In these situations, pronouncing your guess of the opponent's hand can have a great effect. They don't have your information. To them, your precision will seem shocking, almost diabolical.

"How the hell could you know? Can you read my thoughts? You're too f-g good for this level!"

For sure, once in a while, your read will be wrong and your opponent will be holding one of the hands that you excluded for reasons of plausibility.

You know what - it doesn't matter. Your guess will pass more or less unnoticed. But when you're right, you get loads of attention.

And in this kind of favorable situation, you'll be right most of the time.

/Charlie River

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