WCOOP: Raymer reflects on successful tourney series

by Greg Raymer

So far the 2008 WCOOP has been a huge success, and I'm sure that won't change now that we're in the home stretch with only a few days to go. I can't wait for the 10K HORSE event Saturday, nor the $10M guaranteed Main Event on Sunday and (hopefully for me too) Monday. It's been a good year so far for
Team PokerStars Pro, with us making five final tables so far, and with four of us making the final 8, and the money, in the $25K Heads-Up event. Special commendations to Elky and Chris Moneymaker, who have each made two final tables, or 4x the total of the rest of Team PokerStars Pro put together. The rest of us had better get off our you-know-whats and get a move on.

But what about event #28, $500+30 Omaha hi-lo 8-or-better? Omaha8 is, in my opinion, a relatively easy cash game to play. It seems very complicated at first, because of all of the hand combinations to consider, and the fact that you always have draws, and are always facing draws. The math can become complex if you let it, but in a full ring cash game, it really becomes pretty simple. You almost entirely play hands that are likely to flop the nuts or a draw to the nuts, and then you only proceed after the flop when you hit the nuts or the nut-draw. There are exceptions, of course, to this overly simplistic advice, but the large majority of your play consists of just this simple algorithm.

The same is true for Omaha8 at the beginning of a tournament. However, once you get past the first few levels, and reach the point where you or some of your opponents are getting short-stacked and will be all-in before the river, I think that this becomes maybe the most difficult form of poker for tournament play. It certainly becomes one of the most frustrating. I think this arises from the fact that when you get all-in preflop, no hand in Omaha8 is that much of a favorite over any other single hand. If I give you AA in holdem, and I get any other starting hand, you are a huge favorite when all the money goes in early. At least a 4:1 favorite, and sometimes much more. However, even if I give you the best starting hand in Omaha8, AA23 double-suited, and I have some truly weak starting hand such as 56QJ, you aren't that big of a favorite if we're all-in. And of course, what that means when you're playing the game is that when one of us is almost out of chips, neither of us can really fold pre-flop if the pot is going to be heads-up, as we are certainly getting the right price to defend our big blind. And this leads to all sorts of perceived bad beats, making the game very frustrating for most players.

So, to those who triumphed in this event, especially our winner "Big 10" from Vancouver, I salute your ability to wade through the field in this toughest of poker tournaments. To survive all those bad beats, or to give them out to others, can test the willpower of the best. Congratulations.

Greg Raymer is a member of Team PokerStars Pro.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in WCOOP