There was a time when I was playing PLO almost exclusively, but it probably has been at least 18 months since that was the case. Never read any Omaha-specific books, but did start out by following one of those point count systems such as the one devised by Edward Hutchison. Had a lot of fun, but didn’t enjoy the swings so much. Somewhere in there I heard an interview with T.J. Cloutier (I think on one of Phil Gordon’s 2005 WSOP podcasts) where he mentioned how the swings in PLO were much greater than in most games. Not long afterwards I found myself spending more time over at the limit hold ’em tables, then all my time there. Until a couple of weeks ago, that is.
In trying to prepare for that AIPS tournament this past weekend, I got into a few PLO sit-n-go’s and did reasonably well. Was playing solid, but had to get lucky to win. I then took a turn at some cash tables, starting out over on Bodog. At one point early last week I found myself at a full ring, fixed limit game of Omaha high ($0.25/$0.50), the kind of animal you just don’t encounter in online poker that often (as far as I can tell). The table held together for well over two hours (138 hands, all told), and I ended up about $33 to the good.
Over the next few days I kept going back looking for another fixed limit game, but none were to be found. So I moved to the more popular pot limit tables ($0.10/$0.25, $25 max. buy-in). I generally only bought in for $10 or $15, mainly just to lessen the effects of any misstep I was likely to make. And I made a few. But I ran fairly well as the week progressed. Looking back at the stats, I pulled just over $18 for the 494 hands of PLO I played during the first part of the week (something like $3.65 per 100 hands). Not bad. But then came Friday night.
Not gonna be exact about final totals, but I will reveal that among the various $0.10/$0.25 PLO tables I played that night there was one instance of me buying in for $10 and walking away a few hours later with over $110. And there were other lucrative stops as well. Can’t say I’ve ever enjoyed a similar win rate at limit hold ’em, not even during my very best sessions. Was it simply a good run of cards? As Cloutier said, this is a high variance game (usually), so I have to attribute some of my success to simple good fortune. But I think there were three other factors that also might have helped make the night a good one.
For one, I was playing very carefully (i.e., well) after the flop. I actually limped into a lot of pots -- at one point I know I was up around 60% -- but was able to let go of hopeless hands without too much trouble. I wasn’t necessarily playing tight, and would usually stick around if I thought a draw might come (and it wouldn’t cost much to get there). But I tended to avoid the unnecessary risks.
That distinguished me, frankly, from a lot of my opponents. Or I should say from the one or two players at each table who seemed willing to push crazily with two pair, a gutshot draw, or worse. I’m tempted to generalize that a fish at a PLO table is much more likely to get felted (and fast) than his equivalent over at the limit hold ’em tables who not only might last a long time, but sometimes will even come away a big winner. PLO fish often seem to play as if the game is no limit hold ’em; they ignore both that the game is “PL” (and one cannot, generally, push people around preflop or even on the flop) and that the game is “O” (and top pair ain’t usually gonna cut it).
I’ll give you a quick example. I’m UTG with $14.50 in chips and am dealt . A nice enough hand, but I’m just limping (being out of position, with neither ace suited). Folds to the button who raises to $0.75. The small blind calls and the big blind folds. I call, of course. Harmless little pot of $2.35, and three of us seeing the flop which comes .
Decent flop for me. I bet $1.20, about half the pot. The button calls me, then the small blind quickly raises pot to $5.75. I put in my remaining $12.55 and he instacalls with -- a bare ace and no draw. The turn and river bring a couple of blanks, and I collect a cool $29.65 (about $15 net) without even trying.
So that’s the second reason -- a nice, steady supply of reckless players (with whom I was able to get involved in big pots fairly regularly).
A third reason why I think I did well simply has to do with the fact that I’m playing a different game -- one with which I have some measure of competence -- and when one plays a game other than one’s usual game, there’s a tendency to increase one’s focus. Not only did I feel pretty aware of what others were up to, I was watching myself more closely as well.
I’m tempted (understandably) to stick with Omaha here for a while. Plan to tread carefully going forward, though, and not presume I’ve stumbled upon some hidden, idiot-savant-type greatness of which I wasn’t previously aware.
‘Cos everybody knows Omaha’s a femme fatale. Builds you up just to bring you down (what a clown).
Labels: *on the street