I strolled up to the Venetian's poker room confident as a cock...er, rooster....ready to stake my claim.
"What would you like?" the lady asked.
"Omaha," I squeaked.
My voice came out like I had just sucked down enough helium to fill the balloons at a Red Robin grand opening.
I really wanted to do this. I had fallen for Omaha in a way I had not felt since the Heather Thomas poster I had on my wall during my junior high school years. I not only love the game, I'm infatuated, and play it in the PokerStars cash games probably as much as Hold 'Em, mostly for two reasons:
1. Hold 'Em, even No-Limit, at the nine-handed tables that I play usually feature about as much action as two 12-year-olds on their first date watching "The Little Mermaid" in front of her parents. There's usually five rocks waiting to get A-A so they can win the blinds when they raise, one fish, one aggressive idiot and me.
But Omaha has action. Lots of good, fun action Jackson at .10/.25 pot-limit, especially six-handed.
2. The players, unlike the Hold 'Em players, are much worse than me. I've seen so many lately push their whole stack in with Q-Q-x-3. I called off a player just last night with two-pair, J-5, because I knew he had an overpair. Sure enough, he showed Kings with no hope for a draw, then reamed me for five minutes. I declined to educate him.
Still, I knew the live players would probably be better than that, and not only that, but I'd have to play HI-Lo, which is fun but not exactly a game I play often. Namely, like, never.
I got a few tips from Drizz and CK, however, and so I felt somewhat ready to play.
On the first hand, I was lifting up my cards when the dealer gave me two and nearly caused a misdeal because I not only knocked my third card face up, I nicked the player's to my left. The dealer gave me a look, like, "Um, hey, idiot, remember this is a four-card game."
It was a good start.
I bought in for $200 and immediately lost about $75 of it. I resolved to tighten up a lot more and then played A-2 that eventually turned into a wheel. I had the low on the turn and figured I was freerolling. I scooped the pot.
I was so proud until the dealer set the half-kill button in front of me and told me to stack six chips on it.
Why? I want to enjoy my pot! I don't want to just give it away!
Oh, yeah. OK.
Of course, when it got to me, I was three milliseconds away from mucking my hand when the dealer "hinted" that I might want to hang on to them, as those six chips are an automatic call. Nice job, I told myself, and laughed, remarking that I must really love my hand. The table laughed too. Ah, well, at least I was a comedian among the old, grumpy guys and annoying know-it-all to my right who pointed out the high and the low whenever someone tabled his or her cards before the dealers opened their mouths.
To know-it-all's credit, most of the dealers knew the game, but some clearly didn't. One seemed to have no clue how to divide a split, three-way pot that had a quartered low and a side pot. I know that's confusing, but isn't that her job? It took, literally, five minutes to figure it out. Granted, had the other players just shut up and let her work, it would have gone much faster, but we know how often that happens at a poker table.
Some general observations about my play:
• I was afraid of going for just half the pot, especially when it was a low. As a result, I folded a couple of lows that I maybe should have stayed with. But they were not the nut lows by the turn, and usually it was either heads up or against one other player, and it just didn't seem worth the chance of it not getting there or me getting quartered. Which, by the way, happened to me twice regardless.
I'm not sure if that's good or bad to worry too much about winning only half the pot.
• I had some bad luck when I flopped a full house on a K-K-6 board and a pair of 6s in my hand. I was heads-up with a woman who was clearly clueless. When the third K fell and she smirked, bet and then looked away, I mucked my hand with a touch of anger. I'm pretty sure she would have called down my raises to the river with her trip Ks. I also had a set of Qs shot down by a flush on the river, but I did not pay the two players with flushes off.
• I rarely played a hand without a good low possibility, meaning if I didn't have A-2 or A-3, I usually didn't play it. I did play high cards but not too often. It didn't seem to cost me, either, as I would not have hit much, but the quality of the show-downs - some won with only two pair or even just a pair at times - made me think I should have played more hands. I probably need help on hand selection. CK's tip to not play hands with a dangler really did help.
• The table was very passive, with a ton of check calling. I realize that's not a bad way to play in Omaha, as opposed to Hold 'Em, but I'm also convinced a better, more aggressive player who could put people on draws could have made a lot of money.
Any tips, though (CK I'm on Facebook!) would help.
I left about $125 down after several hours. I considered it the price of entertainment and a nice sorbet to clear my poker pallet before I would make it all back, and more, at the $1-2 NLHE tables that night.