I was sick and missed games between 12/24 and 1/1, but in the two games before my break and the game after I had good results.
The New Years game was pot-limit Omaha H/L and we had 19 participants. I floated along with an average stack until shortly after our late reg period also saw a player get knocked out. Down to 18-handed meant we consolidated from 3 tables down to 2, and I was moved from a pretty fortunate position (with our most aggressive player¹ directly on my right) to a new table that had a collection of most of our wild-card opponents.
¹Just to complete the side note, this player is aggressive to the point where at a NLHE game, you'd actually prefer him on your left, as you well know his tendencies include small stabs on any flop which gets checked to him, and pot-sized bets on any turn which gets checked to him without anyone raising (or taking an otherwise aggressive action) on the flop. He's absolutely clockwork, but despite that he manages to be a break-even player (somehow). Anyway, in a PLO8 game, keeping him contained on your right is more palatable, as you frequently flop draws with significant equity. It's much easier to play against this player if you can shut him down with your aggressive-actions-with-equity, rather than having to already "have it" before you play back against him. To speak plainly, I'd much prefer the ability to raise (his small flop bets) when I'm holding a draw, freezing him (either getting him to fold on the flop, or preventing him from bombing the turn—allowing me to see both the turn and river cards in an attempt at hitting my draw). This is one of the significant differences in how Hold'em plays differently then Omaha.
Anyway, I'm at the new table with our collection of wild-card players. I don't love it, but still I'd rather be here than at a table with our killers. I managed a crazy double-up against one of these players after she "came at me" only holding top two pair when the board itself showed a paired card (e.g., she held KJxx on a KJ77 board), and I held the low trip card. Knowing her propensity to go crazy I successfully called her down and doubled through her. It was an absolute gift, and I looked pretty prescient making the play, though I could've very easily have been knocked how had I made the same call-down against the majority of people we play with.
That double up puts me in a nice chip position and not much longer I managed to get myself into first place. We slowly start to lose players from the tournament and by the time we're down to 9-handed (i.e. the Final Table) I was still in first place (but had bled-off some of my chips). Turns out this was roughly the half-way point of the tournament.
By the time we were 7-handed I had lost my top chip position (to one of the killers I was talking about—one of the guys with almost 2x my ROI if you paid attention to the previous post), and not long after that I made my first incorrect call-down of the tournament (doubling up one of my rivals). We played seven-handed for a while (top 5 were getting paid), and during that stretch I bounced between 6th and 7th place in chips. At a couple of points my chip stack was approaching the same 10,000 chips I had when I started the tournament (I think I got as low as to be in the 11,000's). Fortunately we lost another player out of the tournament and with six players left, on the stone bubble, I moved back and forth between 5th and 6th place in chips.
But then the "hand of the night" happened for me (and the whole reason I thought I had something interesting enough to make this post). With me in 5th place in chips, just barely ahead of the 6th place player, I entered the pot holding
. Since we were playing Omaha Hi/Lo, this is a pretty good looking hand in terms of making an 8-or-better low qualifier. Three unique ranks of "wheel cards" (5, 4, 3, 2, and Ace) is a comfortable starter for opening, and under different game conditions² it's something I'd think about raising with. As is fairly typical for our O8 game (and O8 tournaments in general) we saw the flop with 4 players limping along preflop.
²Those game conditions were that the player from note ¹ was still in the game, and I've found that bloating the pot before I have a lock-down great hand against him only plays into his style.
The flop came
and one player checked to me. This is a good-but-not-awesome flop for me. The combination of the A and 5 on the board means that me holding the 2-3 is the best low-draw. The 5 on the board means that I've got bottom set (three 5's). However, the A and the K on the board are both likely ranks that other players would keep pairs of in their hands (and the way our game plays, it's not necessary that someone would have raised holding AAxx or KKxx preflop). Two hearts on the flop means there'll likely be more interest from my three opponents to stick around and see the turn card. Since I started the hand with about 13 big blinds, there's no great reason for me to try to get my chips in "on the draw" at this point, as I'd have no trouble getting all-in by the river if I happen to hit something later in the hand. Again, most of this is predicated on the game conditions I've been talking about in my notes... As it happens, the very aggressive player did put in a 1-big blind bet from last position, and the player in the blind folded, and both me, and the player after me (the one in last place, chip-wise) called. Now there's 7 BB in the pot, I've got 11 BB in my stack, and there are three of us to see the turn.
The turn is an
, which over all is a good-but-not-awesome card for me. The fact that the board now has an 85A on it means the 23 I'm holding is the current nut low (good for half the pot), but this is another rank higher than my 5's and it also brings in the heart flush. Still, I'm in good position to take the low side of the pot (as long as the river doesn't counterfeit me by bringing a 2 or 3), and there's (at least) one player left in the pot who'd definitely be willing to call my bet with a worse low-card combination. I made a 2/3rds size pot bet (4.67 BB), the player with slightly fewer chips than me shoves for his whole stack, and the wild-card player on the button calls. Holding the nut-low and a can't-be-good three-of-a-kind, I dump the rest of my chips into the pot (and the wild-card player also calls my feeble raise over the all-in player).
The river comes the perfect
, making the board read:
. I've now got 8532A for an unbeatable low and 555KK for a full house. The player I had covered had made the flush on the turn (which I now beat with my lowest-possible boat) and the wild-card player on the button doesn't end up showing his hand (I beat him on both sides). I scoop the whole pot, and knock the 6th place player out on the bubble, knock the remaining wild-card player down to a low chip count, and catapult myself into the chip lead, all in one fell swoop.
I end up holding the chip lead from this point until I get heads-up (with the killer I talked about earlier) and after a significant heads-up battle (with the chip lead going back and forth a few times) I end up hanging on for my third consecutive first place finish!
I did keep my chip graph from this tournament, just so I could recall the history: