Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Dam Bluffers

Liar, Liar, Pants on FireHave been playing short-handed pot-limit Omaha again. Quite a bit, actually. Mostly on PokerStars, where I snuck into Silver Star status by the end of July. I’ve actually begun August with thoughts about going for Gold Star, though I’m not sure if it is worth the effort. (Opinions on the subject, anyone?)

Has been up and down, as is often the case with me and PLO. At times I feel as though I am playing very solidly -- that is, at a higher level than some of the opponents I’m encountering at my low limits (buy-ins ranging from $10 to $25). Other times I kind of lose the thread and feel a little lost.

As usual, when I’m playing well I’m usually being aggressive and pushing the action, putting others to tough decisions and generally being the one to watch at the table. And when I’m not playing well I get passive, letting others dictate how things go.

It is always hard to assess one’s own play, although I’ve found a few indicators -- such as my relative level of aggression -- which sometimes help me in my efforts to gauge the level of my own play.

Another indicator is how often I’m playing pots from out of position (rarely when focused and playing well; sometimes or often when not). Also, how I handle the occasionally troublesome A-A-x-x usually clues me into where my head is.

If I play aces with an understanding of their true worth in PLO, which, like most hands and situations, ain’t to be determined until after the flop, I’m doing okay. But if I get carried away feeling all entitled about my aces -- in other words, letting the hand kind of play me rather than my playing the hand -- then chances are good I’m not playing my, well, “A-game.”

One aspect of the game I feel as though I’ve gotten pretty well under control, though, is handling the beats and avoiding tilt. As anyone who has played PLO much at all knows very well, the game can be very swingy and cruel-seeming when one’s draws never seem to hit, or one’s made hands fail to withstand even the most improbable comebacks from one’s opponents.

Understanding that PLO is a drawing game, though -- i.e., one where made hands can be behind those on a draw -- can help one to deal with it all.

Of course, some struggle with all that stuff -- self-assessment, understanding the game, and dealing with losing. For example, one opponent I ran into recently, a player whom I think I’ll name StraightMan.

There was a thread on 2+2 not long ago noting how players do not chat as much anymore. I think one cause for this trend could be players are on average more knowledgeable, and usually those who pipe up in the chat boxes aren’t the sharpest players. Indeed, whenever I do see someone chatting in my games, it usually indicates the player isn’t the most solid PLO player at the table.

Such was the case with StraightMan. He was sitting on my left, chirping away about my bluffing. “Dam bluffer,” he typed over and over, usually after blind-vs.-blind hands where I’d taken small pots.

He wasn’t just complaining to me, though, as he also accused others frequently of the same offense. “Dam bluffer,” he’d type, repeating the incorrect spelling each time. Sometimes StraightMan would add that his opponent was “betting with crab.”

“Dam bluffer raising with crab!”

Took me two times to understand he meant “crap.”

Finally one player -- a solid player, actually, who probably should have known better than to try to offer instruction to this fellow -- had had enough and couldn’t resist responding to his complaints. He’d just won a big three-way pot involving StraightMan, kind of an interesting hand in which all of the money went in on a 4sKd3s flop.

The winner of the hand -- I’ll call him the Professor -- held 5dAs6d7s. One opponent had top set with KsKc6s3d. And good old StraightMan was in there with AhKh9dQh. The turn brought the Professor his straight, and he ended up winning what was about a $50 pot.

StraightMan piped up afterwards. “f king idiot with crab,” he said, his complaint sounding a little like some sort of weird entree. “al in with nothing,” he added.

The Professor couldn’t let that go. “i had nut flush and nut straight draw... i was a higher chance to win then you it wasnt a bluff learn to play omaha.”

The lecture didn’t deter StraightMan, who kept right on complaining about all the mad “bluffing” going on around him. Finally he’d lose the rest of his chips to the Professor, calling all of the way down on a board of Jh3d2c9hJd. The Professor had AhTcAd8h for aces and jacks, while StraightMan held 2h5sThTs for a lesser two pair.

“Dam bluffer,” said StraightMan. “Top pair nut flush nut straight what part of that is a bluff,” responded an incredulous Professor. The StraightMan had no reply and left.

Being an attentive student, I decided to respond to the Professor.

“The world is a bluff... dam world,” I typed. “haha apparently,” said the Professor.

Like I say, it is hard sometimes to assess one’s own play. It is also hard sometimes to assess the world around you, which if you aren’t seeing it clearly, often looks like it might be bluffing.

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Blogger stephenAmurphy said...

I feel uniquely qualified to comment on the gold star status, since I just made it for the first time last month (and good for this month). Like you, I don't play too much and at not too high of stakes, so I've had a couple silver star months, but mostly have been bronze.

But halfway through last month, I realized I had been racking up a bunch of VPPS (since I was playing more cash games for a change), and decided to go for it.

Is it worth it? In short: "eh..." I did it just because I had never done it before, treating it almost like a video game. As long as you can continue to post a profit, no harm in trying.

But there is not a ton of benefits. The extra FPPs are nice, but I honestly don't use them much. The best part about gold status is that you qualify for one of their quarterly freerolls (million dollar prize pool), but if you qualify this month, you may miss out because of the timing. That, in and of itself, is pretty cool. Like playing a Sunday Million just for FPPs. There are also some decent weekly freerolls too, which are always nice.

So go for it if you want to but check out the calendar for VIP freerolls. It might make sense to really try another month (Sept. or Oct. as opposed to this month).

8/04/2010 4:32 PM  

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