The Lex Not Live 2021 series has roared through its first few days. Action continues tomorrow, Saturday, May 22, with several more fun, off-the-beaten-path poker variants, including a PokerStars Fusion event at 15:00 CET.
If you need a reminder, Fusion is the game that “fuses” hold’em and Omaha into a brand new, unique variant.
Here’s a quick refresher on how to play Fusion along with a few added tips to help ensure you don’t suffer any Fusion confusion.
PokerStars Fusion begins almost exactly like no-limit hold’em, the only difference being the game is played as pot-limit throughout. Thus the maximum raise allowed at any time in a hand is determined by the size of the pot.
Everyone is dealt two hole cards, just like in hold’em. Preflop betting plays out the same way, too, starting with under the gun (the player to the left of the big blind) and moving around the table. So far so good.
The flop is where the “fusion” really starts happening. You know, like regular old, familiar Dr. Jekyll turning into crazy Mr. Hyde. Or vice-versa, perhaps, depending on how you feel about hold’em and Omaha.
At the same time the three community cards constituting the flop appear, everyone still in the hand is also dealt a third hole card.
Betting continues as usual, then on the turn whoever is left receives a fourth and final hole card.
That’s it — there’s no fifth hole card coming on the river.
If the hand gets that far, the game has essentially transformed into pot-limit Omaha. Players make their five-card poker hands using at least two of their hole cards and three of the board cards, just like in PLO.
Keep in mind that no matter where you are in the hand, you’ll still only be able to use two hole cards to form your five-card poker hand. So when the flop betting ends, the turn card is dealt, and you receive that third hole card, remember you can only use two of those three cards to form your hand.
It sounds simple enough, right? If you know hold’em and you know PLO, you should be able to get the hang of it pretty quickly.
But as you might suspect, you can’t really automatically apply your usual NLHE strategy or PLO strategy and expect the same results in PokerStars Fusion.
In other words, there, too, you’ll need to employ a bit of “fusion” between the two games in order to improve your chances of success.
Here are a three quick tips to keep in mind as you build your PokerStars Fusion strategy.
Pot-limit betting preflop generally makes it more likely that more players are going to see a flop, and less likely players (who aren’t short-stacked) will get all in before the flop. So that’s one reason not to follow your usual no-limit hold’em preflop strategies before the flop in PokerStars Fusion.
That advice goes for starting hand selection, too. You can’t look at your two hole cards in Fusion the same way you do in NLHE. That’s because in Fusion, those two cards will potentially form only half of what you’ll end up with in terms of hole cards.
Remember how in PLO you like to have four hole cards that “work together” without any “danglers.” Thus in Fusion you’ll like to see those first two cards have the potential to create just such a hand. Suited connectors (QJs, JTs, T9s, 98s), two suited big cards (ATs, KJs) have such potential. Two cards that are unsuited or have big gaps between them are not.
Also, if your first two hole cards make a pocket pair, that isn’t necessarily as promising as it might be in NLHE. Remember how a middling pocket pair doesn’t necessarily make a great half of a PLO starting hand. Remember also how overpairs don’t usually stand up in PLO thanks to the way hand values get affected when players all have four cards from which to choose two. Adjust accordingly.
Position is important in all forms of poker, but perhaps even more so in PokerStars Fusion. The fact that players won’t fully know their own hand strengths by the turn makes it even more advantageous to be able to act last postflop.
This means being a bit less eager to play from early position. But it also means you can be more aggressive from late position, especially earlier in the hand (say, with those nice suited connectors mentioned above).
There’s obviously a lot else to think about, and of course you’ll want to adapt to what other players are doing, too, as you form your own strategy.
Like with other non-standard variants, expect to see your opponents making some mistakes here and there. And probably expect to make a misstep or two yourself.
However be ready to be creative, and to encounter other players employing some interesting, challenging approaches to particular spots.
When Fusion was first introduced, PokerStars talked to a couple of high-stakes pros about the game. One of them, “Bajskorven87,” pointed out how Fusion tends to reward more imaginative players.
“For beginners I would recommend trusting your instincts because it is much more of a ‘feel game,'” said Bajskorven87. “It is really old school poker so don’t be afraid to bluff and rebluff!”
In any case, enjoy yourself tomorrow in the Fusion event. After all, as with all 2021 Lex Not Live events, winning is the goal, but so is having fun!