Tuesday, May 15, 2007

This Is Your Brain on Poker

This is Your Brain on PokerStill hanging’ out primarily at the PLO tables. Which is one reason why I’ve resisted posting a lot of hands and “On the Street” stuff here lately. Figure most folks aren’t as intrigued as I am by the fascinating Omaha hands with which I’ve been involved. For example . . .

I was sitting UTG with about $20 in chips where I was dealt 5h9h6sTs. I called and it folded around to the button who raised pot to $1.10. One of the blinds called, and I called as well, making the total pot $3.65.

The flop comes 2s7d8h. That’s right. Twenty friggin’ outs for your humble servant -- any of the four jacks, the three tens, the three nines, the three sixes, the three fives, or the four fours. I should point out a 9 or 10 wouldn’t give me the absolute nuts, but even so, throw in a couple of back-door flush draws, and I’m actually a favorite over any other possible hand -- even trip 8s.

Quite the challenge -- psychologically speaking -- to be sitting there with ten-high and be the favorite. Ended up all-in against the fellow with the 8s . . . and none of my outs came, so he took down what ended up a $45 pot.

I continue to do fairly well overall. Was riding very high at one point not too long ago -- after 9,000 hands or so, I was actually dragging around 35 BB/100 hands, if you can believe that. A miracudiculously-high number. Am up to 12,000-plus hands now, and thanks to a pretty rocky stretch have fallen back down to just over 20 BB/100 hands. Am starting to realize what folks mean by the big swings in Omaha. (As that 20-out hand aptly demonstrates.)

Like I said, I’ve been collecting and saving these wild hands. Dunno if I’ll bring ’em up here or perhaps use them for some other purpose -- like a second Omaha blog or something. Gonna wait and see if I’m still playing PLO here at the end of the summer.

Meanwhile, I did play some NL hold ’em, jumping into one of those huge freerolls on UltimateBet yesterday. I have no funds at UB, and was thinking even a single-dollar cash might give me the seed money to follow Chris “Jesus” Ferguson’s path of making a ton of cabbage out of nothing at all. For this freeroll there were 3,003 entrants, with only 18 spots cashing. Pretty crummy odds, but all it cost me was time.

I hung around for the first couple of hours, mostly playing tight while watching a couple thousand players hit the rail. Once the antes had kicked in, I got slightly more aggressive and accumulated a few chips. Had one particularly fortunate hand where I picked off a bluff (more out of inertia than reading-ability) and found myself up above 30,000 in chips with about 120 players left. That put me below average, but fairly comfortable as far as the blinds were concerned (300/600 with a 75-chip ante).

Then came the hand I wanted to tell you about. Not as psychologically fraught as that PLO hand, but interesting nonetheless. Perhaps you hold ’em MTT-ers might have an opinion on this one.

I was in late position -- the cutoff, I think -- where I was dealt Ah5h. (Can’t be utterly precise with details, as I don’t have the hand history.) There were a couple of limpers, and I limped as well. Then the small blind raises to 2,200 -- about 3.5 the BB. Everybody calls and I call, too. I’m in last position now, as the button folded. There’s around 12,000 in the pot when the flop comes KhJh8d.

I’ve flopped the nut-flush draw. The SB checks, and the UTG player bets around 4,000 -- about a third of the pot. I should mention that the UTG player has been making a number of minimum raises preflop as well as some half-hearted steal attempts at what appear to be orphaned pots. So it’s hard to know exactly what his bet represents. Two other players call.

The pot is at around 24,000, so I’m getting something like 6-to-1 to call here. Of course, I still have the SB -- the preflop raiser -- to consider. So what should I do?

As you might’ve guessed, I called. And as you also might’ve guessed, the SB suddenly awakes with an all-in. He started the hand with 70,000 or so, so he’s got me and the rest of the table covered. The UTG player instantly calls, putting in the rest of his stack. Now the pot is up around 100,000 chips. I’ve got about 24,000 left, so again I’m looking at decent odds here -- 5-to-1 or so. Again, I ask . . . what should I do?

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to cruise into the money with what I had. I also knew that winning this pot would propel me into the top ten chipwise. So I made the call.

What do you think they had?

Good guess. (Damn, you’re smart.) Although you had it reversed -- the small blind had the eights, and the UTG player actually had the kings. This is in fact good for me. If my flush comes in, that’s a couple fewer outs for my boat-seeking opponents.

The turn brought the 7h. Hot dog! Now, just hold . . . just HOLD . . . !!!


The river is the case friggin’ eight. C’est la vie . . . .

I know calling off the rest of one’s chips -- on a draw, no less -- ain’t exactly recommended play. But what do you do there? Teach me. See, my poker brain has been warped into that weird Omaha shape, so I can’t rightly see for myself.



Blogger eblonk said...

20BB/h is pretty good. If you take the 2BB/h on a live table as a measuring stick and combine that with online games doing twice as many hands, you´re looking at 4BB/h. I do 40 hands per hour on average online, so 100 take me 2.5 hours. That makes for 10BB per 100 hands. You´re doing good. I do 9BB per 100 hands and I´m feeling good about it.
PLO is a mental rollercoaster. You need to interpret your results beyond the mere win/loss rate. You do look at that but it has a different texture.
I have two ´maybe someday´ ambitions: creating an online pokersite with Omaha variations only and a book on Omaha that takes a look at the deeper layers of the game.

5/16/2007 8:41 AM  
Blogger microlimitdonkey said...

omaha tut tut tut

It fries the brain :)

Good luck

5/16/2007 8:47 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

That's 20 BB/100 hands -- I'm two-tabling, usually, and probably only playing 80-90 hands per hour. So my hourly win rate is a bit less than 20 BB (probably 16 or something).

Been on a pretty crummy run here the last week or so . . . I think my brain is getting fried.

5/16/2007 9:56 AM  
Blogger Cadmunkey said...

Hi Shamus, have you purchased the Omaha version of PT or are you keeping a manual record of your Omaha sessions?

Also, do you think you'll ever return to Hold'em? ;-)

5/16/2007 1:05 PM  
Blogger Cell 1919 said...

Oh my goodness, that last hand. Forget it. It's the type of thing which has me in the nuthouse at the moment, although I can't honestly claim to have suffered as badly as that.

You made the call. It was the correct call. You hit. The potential benefits far outweighed the cost.

But after all that time at the table, carefully accumulating chips, you were killed by the cards.

Perhaps the one consolation you have is that the people in the hand with you had real hands. Proper poker in other words.

Very bad luck. But if the same situation came up again...you'd make the same play. And the odds are you'd be sitting pretty. The cards have no memory.

I just wish I believed what I just wrote lolol!

Well done on the Omaha. Thinking about giving it a spin myself, but only after some study :)

5/16/2007 1:35 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Thx, Cell -- much appreciated. Yeah, I felt fine w/the play at the time.

Cadster -- no, I don't have PT Omaha & have been tediously logging my hands/minutes/win rate/etc. (I've read mixed reviews about the usefulness of PT for PLO.)

Had another fairly crummy PLO session today, actually. Will probably have to start mixing in some low limit HE just to keep my sanity here. Not that low limit HE is entirely stress-free (lol). But these big ol' swings are starting to wear on me. April 2007 was my biggest month ever online in terms of profits (and that includes a week away when I went to Vegas); May (so far) is in the red. (ARGH!)

5/16/2007 1:56 PM  

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