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# Lessons from Clonie Gowen

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Lesson: 2
A Way To Approximate The Odds
Clonie Gowen
March 21, 2005
It is very difficult to calculate the exact odds of hitting a drawing hand when you're sitting at the poker table. Unless you're a genius with a gift for mathematics like Chris Ferguson, you will not be able to do it. That leaves two options for the rest of us: The first option is to sit at home with a calculator, figure out the odds for every possible combination of draws, and then memorize them. That way, no matter what situation comes up, you always know the odds. But for those of us without a perfect memory, there's an easier way. Here is a simple trick for estimating those odds.
The first thing you need to do is to figure out how many "outs" you have. An "out" is any card that gives you a made hand. To do this, simply count the number of cards available that give the hand you are drawing to. For example: suppose you hold Ac 8c and the flop comes Qh 9c 4c. You have a flush draw. There are thirteen clubs in the deck and you are looking at four of them -- the two in your hand, and the two on the board. That leaves nine clubs left in the deck, and two chances to hit one.

The trick to figuring out the approximate percentage chance of hitting the flush is to multiply your outs times the number of chances to hit it. In this case that would be nine outs multiplied by two chances, or eighteen. Then take that number, multiply times two, and add a percentage sign. The approximate percentage of the time you will make the flush is 36%. (The exact percentage is 34.97%.) Now let's say that on that same flop you hold the Jd Th. In this case you would have an open ended straight draw with eight outs to hit the straight (four kings and four eights). Eight outs with two cards to come gives you sixteen outs. Multiply times two and you will hit the straight approximately 32% (31.46% exactly) of the time.

One important thing to keep in mind is that the percentage stated is merely the percentage of the time that you will hit the hand you are drawing to, NOT the percentage of time that you will win the pot. You may hit your hand and still lose. In the first example, the Qc will pair the board and may give somearticle a full house. In the second example both the Kc and the 8c will put a possible flush on the board, giving you the straight, but not necessarily the winning hand. Still, knowing the approximate likelihood of making your hand is a good beginning step on the road to better poker.

Clonie Gowen

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Lesson: 5
In Pot Limit...
Clonie Gowen
April 11, 2005

Most Pot Limit Omaha players know that Omaha is a game of "the nuts." In a multi-way pot, the winning hand is, more often than not, the best possible hand out there. When you start with four cards, you have six different possible two-card hands. This increases the chances that someone is holding the nuts. What many beginning Pot Limit Omaha players do not understand is that Omaha is really a game of redraws.

A redraw means that after the flop, you not only have some kind of made hand, you also have draws to a better hand. Having redraws in Pot Limit Omaha is so important that it is sometimes mathematically correct to fold the nuts on the flop. For example: suppose you raise in the late position with Ac Kh Tc 9h -- a very good starting Omaha hand. Two players call and you see the flop three-handed. The flop comes 6d 7s 8s. You've flopped the nut straight, which is the best hand possible at the moment. The problem is that you have absolutely no chance to improve your hand. This is as good as it gets. This may be okay if both of your opponents check to you. But, if one opponent makes a pot-sized bet and the next one makes a pot-sized raise, then what do you do? How can you fold the nuts?

If one of your opponents has flopped a set, and the other player -- or possibly even the same player -- has a flush draw, you are almost a 2-1 dog to win the pot. If one of those opponents has the same straight as you with a flush draw as well, or a wrap to a higher straight (such as 9,T,J), your hand is even worse because you can only win half the pot even if you don't lose to a flush or full house. You have to ask yourself what your opponents would possibly be betting and raising with on this flop. If there is a chance that all of the redraws are out against you, then you should always fold. If both of your opponents check and either one is tricky enough to be capable of a check raise, then you should still check this flop. If a blank comes on the turn - the 3c for instance -- your hand will be much stronger. Keep in mind, though, that if all of those draws are still out against you, even now you're not much better than 50% to win this pot.

Having multiple redraws to the nuts is much better in Omaha than having the best hand at the moment. Lay this hand down and save your chips for use in a better spot.

Clonie Gowen

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