Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Tom Bishop: Alright, so what else? What else do I need to know?
Nathan Muir: Put away some money so you can die someplace warm and don't ever touch it. Not for anyone, ever.
Tom Bishop: Okay, is that it?
Nathan Muir: Don't *ever* risk your life for an asset. If it comes down to you or them... send flowers.
”Spy Game”

It’s not often I go into strategy or the mathematics of poker right here, but today I am going to try my best. You see, I need to explain why I folded the nuts and why it was the correct move. I’m not preaching that it was the correct move, I’m more trying to convince myself that it was the correct move as I go along here.

Ok, so the game was pot limit Omaha hi/lo, which probably already lets you know how this story ends. On the flop (A24 rainbow) with five callers I see a nut-straight draw and also a very good nut low draw. There is a $2 bet (to go with the 50c to see the flop) so I call along with absolutely everyone. The turn brings (3) out my nut low, but nothing better than 2 pair for the high. I decided just to check because I really don’t like going too far with just a low hand, and since there is A234 there is a fair chance I am splitting this low. There is a late bet of $2 again and I call along with the others. The river is a 5, putting the wheel out there on the board. So yes, I still have the nut low, but potentially so does every other bastard in the hand. So what does UTG do? He goes all-in immediately for $15. So here is my maths.

I have invested $4.50 into this pot, as has 5 other people leaving a pot of $22.50. The $15 all-in raises this to $37.50. Lets assume that someone has a 6 high or 7 high straight, so I have no claim for the high pot leaving me with only a claim at the low pot which is $18.75. I would have to invest another $15 at least to see the showdown, where it is extremely likely that I will be splitting that half of the pot at least 2 ways. Turns out one player had a seven high straight, and both people split the low pot. Now if I was also in the hand, the maths would have been like this (excluding rake):

Hi pot = $33.75 to the 7 high straight
Lo pot = $33.75 split three ways, $11.25 each.

I would have invested $19.50 to win $11.25. The decision on the river to invest $15 would have netted me a loss of $3.75 That is not very pleasing, even though I had the nut low. But since I stayed out of the showdown, the pot looks like this:

Hi pot = $26.25 to the 7 high straight
Lo pot = $26.25 split 2 ways, $13.12 each.

So the all-in has invested $19.50 to get $13.12. I have lost $4.50 into a pot but if I followed through to the showdown with the nut low I would have lost $8.25. In fact, my folding saved the UTG player nearly $4, even though he still made a net loss on the hand.

But this got me thinking, what if the player that took the high pot didn’t also have the low? Then the maths would look like this, firstly with me in the pot:

Hi pot = $33.75 to the 7 high straight
Lo pot = $33.75 split two ways, $16.87 to me, $16.88 to UTG.

So the $15 bet on the river would actually be correct to call, because I have already invested the $4.50 so that is lost, but the final bet of $15 would net me a return of $1.87. Again, this is assuming a zero rake, which probably changes things slightly but the general principle is still the same. So then what if I didn’t call?

Hi pot = $26.25 to the 7 high straight
Lo pot = $26.25 to the UTG

So UTG makes a profit on the hand of $6.75 without me in it, and a loss of $2.62 if I am. I however look at a loss of $4.50 if I stay out of the river bet or a loss of $2.62 if I stay in. Looks pretty crappy from my point of view when you are holding the nut low.

Anyway, so I had to fold the nut low in a pot limit Omaha game, and I knew it was the nut low but the money dictated that the correct decision was to fold. It was weird, I was kinda proud of myself for identifying the risks of the bet (even if I didn’t know the exact numbers of it, I knew a call would mean a loss) and made what I believe is the right decision, but essentially this shows what I believe to be a flaw in the game. And an annoying one at that. Sure, I could have made more bets earlier to push other players out, perhaps even push myself out if I could, but there is little chance that anybody was leaving that pot in an Omaha game of this nature. Any money invested into that pot would have been a bad investment from myself.

There you go, maybe this is just another reason why I should stop playing pot limit Omaha.

On to those wacky and crazy names we give to starting hands. I still think the funniest I have heard is the Gay Waiter, but I am always open to hearing more. The German Virgins? Pocket 9’s, not a bad one. But a contentious issue has arisen.

A very clever name for a starting hand has arisen – The Kournikova. I think most of us have heard this one, and the explanation for it is quite apt: It looks good, but never wins. What a great name for a starting hand. But which hand is the Kournikova?

I posted my thoughts on a related thread over in PSO’s forums, and was met with some opposing thoughts. To me, the Kournikova was always KQ. The name “Kournikova” sounds like a KQ to me, and indeed two picture cards in the hand look pretty but KQ isn’t as strong as the beginner may think. An authority no less than the good Doctor Pauly himself was recently quoted as calling KQ by that very name.

But my opposing sparring partner volunteered that Big Slick could also been called by that name. Does AK also fit the description? Well, AK does match the initials of the retired tennis star, and I think the strength of the hand generally is over-rated. And again, an authority no less than the Guinness fuelled Blogfather himself, Ignatius has used this moniker for that very hand in a recent post.

So which one is right? Which hand is the true Kournikova? Who will win? Who really cares? Well I do for one. I need to find out which hand is the official Kournikova, so therefore I will be conducting a poll right here in my comments section to see which hand should be henceforce known as the Kournikova. Please reply with your choice, be it AK, KQ or any other variation which will more than likely knocked back. I will put forth the first vote for KQ.

Or maybe my serch engine results for Kournikova will just rise? If only I could work Sharapova into this somehow...


DuggleBogey said...

Unfortunatley, Anna Kournikova will always be associated with AK.

The funniest one I have heard lately is the "Michael Jackson."

Queen with a little kicker.

TripJax said...

Ha...funny comment Dugglebogey.

Man Heafy that was quite a post. Omaha can blow your mind sometimes huh?! Good post.