September 22, 2009

PLO Musings

What’s Up Degens?

Two days in a row FTW!

From now on, I’m going to try to start the blog off by getting poker stuff out of the way. I’m down a few buy ins since I started playing again, but overall feel like I’m definitely dusting off the rust quickly. The first couple of sessions I had, I made a couple really dumb mistakes, like doing the “fuck it I call” thing when it’s obvious I’m beat even though I have the second nuts, so I suppose I just need to pay more attention to the action and being more disciplined with identifying opponents.

Although there’s several things I feel are essential to being a successful PLO player, I’ll try to name a few and then give myself a grade level up to this point so far on each, and then try to work through where I need to improve the most. They aren’t in any particular order.

1. A significant portion of your winnings must be derived from Non-SD-Winnings. I know this is important in NLHE as well, but I think it’s even more exaggerated in PLO since most of the big pots are classified as “standard”, and you’re mostly just running it. So picking up the small pots is a crucial part of profitably getting it in with less than 50% equity in the bigger pots. One of the biggest leaks I see from my students is not taking down small/medium sized pots when their opponents show weakness. You can develop this skill by simply playing and improving your hand reading skills, and just knowing when your opponents simply can’t “have it”. I feel like I’m very good at this skill right now, and it’s a big piece of crushing the lower stakes. The games just play far too passive, and if you’re not playing aggressively in small pots then you’re missing out on a lot of dead money!
2. Making big folds – This is basically the opposite of #1. You need to get used to comfortably laying down strong hands, and when I say strong, I mean the absolute value of the hand is strong, but against the value range of many opponents, it’s not strong at all. Some opponents just aren’t donking light into 3 people, and some people just never c/r certain boards light, so you need to get used to making big folds. I’ve had problems in the past by making terrible call downs in spots where my opponents just are never betting as a bluff. When I show some of the hands to my friends, they say “oh I always call there”, but I think if you’re a good enough hand reader you should be able to make difficult folds routinely.
3. Not paying attention to table dynamics – With PLO, people really get caught up with oh I play this hand UTG, and I always 3b this hand etc. That’s a poor approach to take. Since there isn’t a ton of equity difference between hands, you need to focus on setting yourself up in a profitable position postflop rather than the actual value of your hand pre flop. For example, a common question I see on the forums is “what hands should I add to my 3b’ing range”, and truthfully I’m not sure it should be asked like that. If you’re not 3b’ing enough, you’re not targeting the correct opponents to do so against. At the lower stakes, people need to focus on isolating a little lighter because so many players incorrectly limp call since they’re so passive. I’ll write more about all of this later.
4. Not quitting when they should – This is another topic that’s really important in NLHE, but really exaggerated in PLO. It’s so easy to make dumb calls or stupid gambles for your 100bb stack when you’re tilted, running bad, or bored. I personally have a stop loss of 3 buy in’s, which seems really low but I’d rather stay on the safe side. There’s nothing worse than grinding up 2-3 buy in wins for a whole week, and then giving it all back with a 10 or 12 buy in losing day. It can be not only a financial bankroll killer, but an emotional/confidence bankroll killer as well. I think I’d be playing 5/10 by now if I had began having a stop loss earlier in my career. The games are always running, and there will always be big fish at your table. Stand up and take a break. Don’t be a degen; be a poker player. It’s all about the long term!

I’ll try to add more to these later. I’d like to write about folding to 3b’s OOP, what hands to call with, what hands to 4b with, opponents to do so against, and other random strategy pieces, but for now I’m a little burnt out on PLO stuff since I just finished a coaching session and am about to start another one in an hour.

I’ve only had a few passions in life, but I’ll name a few here because I think they’re all interrelated, and have a lot in common with poker. Pitching (used to play baseball in college), Golf (several parallels with poker; most Golfers have the perfect mentality for poker imo), women (obv), and music (mostly rap/hip-hop). I’m going to try to write something about each during each entry, but for now I just want to write a few songs I think any hip hop fan should check out.
Jay – Z: It’s Like That
Kanye, Common, Kid Cudi: I Make Her Say
Eminem: Role Model

Those are the songs I’m listening to right now, haha, some old, some new.

Anyway, I’ll try to blog a little more about random shit later after I sesh tonight. Good luck to everyone out there!


On a sidenote, I just received P90x today, so I’m stoked to begin that tonight. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of reviews for it!


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