Last night I played a gazillion (200 or so) hands of PLO and got nowhere, losing about half a buy-in. This evening was different. In 100 hands I won about 1 1/2 buy-ins. It makes a difference when the dealer is kind and/or the board makes it very clear that, given one’s opponents, you need to “get it in there.”
Early on in my PLO adventures (What, three months ago?) I learned very quickly that pocket Aces were for shit, and a set of Aces may not fair much better. Sure, you can raise it up big from late position preflop, but down here in the micros, one always should be prepared for 75% of the limpers to come in with anything. I began to notice a trend: I was getting beaten by hands that also had an Ace in them (thereby eliminated one of my outs) and by spreads. The latter appeared to be the most effective of the two.
This evening I played at two tables simultaneously. They were an exercise in contrasts. One was tight as all get-out, and the other was loose. The tight table I can barely remember playing a hand, yet I do know that when I raised Aces, I received a modicum of respect on the flop and managed to make a small profit in the fifty or so hands played. In that room, I was more or less on autopilot, for my attention was on the other room.
The second room had a good mix of players. There were rocks, newbies, fairly skilled players and a nutcase LAG. Pots often became fairly large preflop, requiring a certain flexibility in the range of hands one should play. However, to get to this point, I chose to watch what others were playing and then determine how I would compensate.
I had notes on the LAG two to my right. He would raise about half of the hands he entered, and position did not matter. If his cards were double-suited, he popped it. Another player, immediately to my right, was a big fan of the min-raise. Often they would be heads up. In that I had relative position on both much of the time, I looked for a chance to use that to my advantage.
The min-raiser was first to act, andt put in a pot-sized bet, which I called with 9dTh8cJd. I have begun to experiment with different values of spreads, taking note that middle spreads can be very effective, and high middle spreads work quite well to cover two ranges of straight draws. If a Broadway comes, I’m safe, and if a lower straight comes, I’m golden. Two other players called: a calling station who had two-outed me earlier and a newbie who seemed to have something to prove. The LAG was playing a short stack; or rather, his stack had a certain dynamic quality to it. From the BB, he put in a pot-sized raise, which was about half of his stack. It would not be unusual for him to make such a move, for he had done this before, and when he busted out, he quickly bought back in for a small amount. However, it did cross my mind that he may have Aces. Then Mr. Min-raise, also on a short stack, went all in for about one third of the current pot. Well then, who had the Aces? I called, as did the LAG, whom had .30 remaining behind. The flop was 6sKhQd, which I found heartening. The LAG put his last bit in and I called with the open straight draw. The turn accommodated. LAG did indeed have Aces, and Min had Kings.
I must say that I find it curious that in other situations where I have an open-ended straight draw with out a flush draw as well, I am more cautious. If a hand is played out in it’s more typical fashion, meaning that there is not a preflop bet that screams big pairs, and a pot-sized bet is made by another player on the turn, I am gone. Such was the case on several occasions this evening, and whether the player had a sizable or negligible stack, it made little difference. It was either too risky of a call or not worth it. I suspect this has something to do with the EV of the hand, and in that I have not read any in-depth PLO literature and am still waiting on my Jeff Hwang book to arrive, I will add this to my multitude of existing questions about the game.
The newbie also learned about big pairs later as I flopped a boat, tens full, and he called all the way to the river, delivering his whole stack on the back of Kings. I love weekends!