Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Is PLO the “Game of the Future”?

Brian 'sbrugby' Townsend winning a $430K hand of PLO on Full Tilt PokerRecently listened to online whiz Brian “sbrugby” Townsend interviewed on the 4/29 episode of PokerRoad’s Cash Plays. During the last part of the interview, host Bart Hanson asks Townsend some questions about pot limit Omaha, and the discussion is a good one. Definitely worth hearing, if you’re a PLO fan, I think.

The pair address a number of PLO-related topics, including playing aces, short-stacking (how to play & how to combat against), deep-stacked play, bluff-raising, full ring vs. 6-max play, folding after flopping the nuts, freerolling, and even PLO/8. They also touch on that myth about PLO being a game of coin flips. Regarding the latter, Townsend sounds as though he agrees with Jeff Hwang’s observation in Pot-Limit Omaha: The Big Play Strategy that PLO “is not a 50-50 game” and that “it is a pure fallacy that you have to be in a gambling situation when the money goes in.”

Near the end, Hanson asks Townsend what he thinks about the notion that “PLO is the game of the future.” This is an idea that Bob Ciaffone was suggesting way back in the early 80s shortly after the game was first formulated at the Golden Nugget by Robert “Chip Burner” Turner and -- as Ciaffone tells it in Omaha Poker -- that “Oriental lady from the Seattle area named Gwen” (nicknamed the “Dragon Lady”).

Hanson, of course, is referring more directly to recent buzz surrounding PLO, with new interest in the game being perhaps most directly influenced by all of those ongoing high-stakes ($200/$400) games occurring on Full Tilt Poker. (That photo above shows Townsend taking down a $430K pot in one of those games vs. David Benyamine and Tom “Durrrr” Dwan.)

“I think PLO is a beautiful game,” is Townsend’s reply to Hanson’s question. Hanson chuckles in response. “It’s a lot more interesting that no limit Hold ’em,” he adds.

“Really?” says Hanson, a bit incredulous sounding.

Townsend goes on to explain that in his opinion, “no limit Hold ’em really needs antes,” especially online. He notes that one finds such games in live play quite often, and that it adds an extra layer of strategy that makes the game much more fun for him. He doesn’t elaborate, but I think he also is implying that antes would force people to play more (and different) hands in different positions, thereby adding some of those “nuances and subtleties” to NLHE that Townsend was remarking upon earlier in the interview as characteristic of PLO.

“PLO doesn’t need antes because it has that deceptive factor that you think you can play so many hands when in all actuality you can’t.” It is, as Ciaffone dubbed it long ago, the “action game.”

Funny how the “deceptive factor” to which Townsend refers (if I understand him correctly) in fact concerns how one can deceive oneself more easily in PLO than in other games, not to the strategy of trying to deceive others. Although that’s a big part of the game, too.

Dunno if PLO is the “game of the future” or not, but anecdotally-speaking I do believe it has risen in popularity over the last few months, as I am routinely seeing more PLO tables running when I go online these days.

Which is good for me. ’Cos I do like the action.

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Blogger Erwin Blonk said...

Don't expect an objective viewpoint from me, I love pot limit Omaha and I just hope for a bit more players so that SnGs fill up a bit quicker and so that there'll be a bit more choice in 9 and 10 handed tables. It is a complicated and deceptive game and you are your own toughest opponent.

5/06/2008 3:53 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

I started a thread a while ago on 2+2 asking why there wasn't more PLO on TV. It's the choice game for the big gamble pros, as a quick look round the FTP lobby will show every day, it's got bigger pots, bigger drawing hands, bigger suckouts, more gamble and more action. It would need a good commentator though (or announcer as you call them on your side of the pond) to explain what the hell is going on a lot of the time. But I think it's inevitable there will be cash game broadcasts soon.

Me? I like PLO but PLO hates me. I cannot win at the game for love nor money. If you see me at a PLO table and you've got the nuts, bet it to death because I will very have second nuts. Get all your money in on the flop if you're on a draw against my made hand, because you will win.

It ain;t my game at all. The only Omaha I play is Limit 0/8 at HORSE and I'm pretty average at that too. Just about good enough to benefit from the terrible players about.

But anyway, I digress. More Omaha on TV please.

5/06/2008 5:56 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Would be interesting to see how the high-stakes hand above played out -- did everyone get their money in on the flop, or, with 9 outs to the full house, did sb shove (questionable play) or call the all-in bet (pretty bad play). I'd have to guess they got it all-in on the flop given that Benyamine isn't an idiot and probably knew his flush draw wasn't good.

I sat a short session of PLO50 recently, just to see how it flowed... that's a higher limit than my skill level but I didn't want to play 6-handed and I didn't want to wait for a table. Ended up doubling up shoving a nut flush draw on the turn that came in. Running the odds, I was only 40% to win on that shove, but I figure that's not an unforgivably donk move. Might try to play it a little more though, and maybe see you at a table.

5/06/2008 5:59 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Here's a link to the $430K pot between Townsend, Dwan, and Benyamine.

5/06/2008 6:37 PM  
Blogger Erwin Blonk said...

Look for a 9 or 10 handed table, buy in short (20BB) and wait for a good hand, AAxx (preferrably with a suit or two), or KKxx (same but beware of the tight player limping or (re-)raising) and get all you money in pre-flop or on the flop. Get a maniac (although almost everyone qualifies as such at micro levels) to you left to raise your limp so you can reraise.
Go for the limp-reraise, unless you are in late position with any AAxx.
This should get you breaking even and after some time you can expand your strategy to good rundowns. playing but a few hands it can be boring but it gives you a lot of observation time.

40% can be very good if you have dead money and maniacs at the table. If you play short, 25% can be profitable because often you get 2 people calling your (pre-)flop all-in, after which they might blast each other off the table, leaving heads-up. That's a lot of dead money (including the (pre-)flop folders).
I bet 40% hands over 90% of the time. I'm a bit up and as soon as I learn to play other hands than AAxx and KKxx I should be making dimes by the dozen :)

5/08/2008 6:07 AM  

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