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Home > Poker Pros > Articles > Mike Cappelletti

Articles - Mike Cappelletti

Belong In - A Strategic Raise Leads to Winning A Big Pot
by Michael Cappelletti

While playing in a wonderfully loose $10-$20 Omaha high-low (with a kill) side game at the Rio in Las Vegas, I picked up an A-2-4-J with the jack suited. With one caller in front of me, I merely called so as not to inhibit loose callers in back of me. I was quite happy when there was another call and then a raise. All three players (which included the blinds) in front of me called. I had a very fine hand, so I decided to reraise. Everyone called in this six-way action pot.

The flop came J-8-5 rainbow. The small blind checked and the big blind bet $10. The next guy called, and it was my turn. Would you call or raise here?

When holding the nut-low draw in a pot that was not raised before the flop, it is often correct to simply call in order not to eliminate players (I like more players contributing in case I make my nut low), and, of course, if I don’t make my nut low, then I have less invested. But this pot was raised and reraised preflop and was already very large, and I generally would like to eliminate players, since that would usually increase my chances of winning.

But note that the most important reason to eliminate players with this particular hand is that my pair of jacks (with ace high) will have a much better chance of winning high. The first caller is likely to be calling with low cards (he also might have an A-2), and the big-blind lead bettor also could have low cards and/or some sort of high holding. Since there already is a large pot at this point, it is clearly correct to raise to try to push out high competition. A very similar and now “classic” Omaha high-low hand is discussed in my book, How to Win at Omaha High-Low (p.89), in which raising after the flop substantially increased the chances of winning high.

Another way of looking at this type of hand is that since I have both a high pair and the nut-low draw, I belong in this pot. Since I would certainly call any bet after the flop, it is probably right for me to bet or raise with this hand. Most likely, several players who don’t belong in this pot will be pressured into folding or will be investing money at bad odds.

So, I raised. Two of the players in back of me folded and the small blind folded. The big blind, who had made the lead bet, and the next player called. With three-way action, the turn card was a queen — a terrible card for me. Not only did it not make my low, it also made my jacks less valuable. And someone now might have a high straight or straight draw.

The big blind bet again and the next player called. I also called, hoping for a good river card. Another queen hit the table ­— so much for my great low cards. The big blind bet again and the next player folded, muttering some unhappy words. He probably had had a good low draw, also. Since there was some chance that I might have the best hand, I called because there was a lot of money in the pot. One of the players acting after me who had folded to my raise on the flop then complained that he had folded pocket queens (he would have made quads).

It turned out that the big blind had been pushing jacks and eights (top two pair on the flop). But now, my ace kicker won the whole pot for me, as we both had queens and jacks. If I had not made that $10 raise on the flop, the player with pocket queens probably would have called and I would not have won a $300 pot.

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