Saturday, January 24, 2009

A new love

Over the last couple of months I have been playing a fair amount of Pot Limit Omaha, the game of action junkies. For some reason I find the game more “fulfilling” than NLHE. (The quotes represent the ambiguity I still have at this early stage of discovery, without an adequately clear “reason” for the preference.) Maybe it’s puppy love.

While I have yet to buy any books on the game, as it was with NLHE, experience remains a great teacher; plus when I run up against a problem I cannot immediately comprehend, such as how to get someone off of a draw with my pot-sized bets, I turn to my buddy, Stan, for understanding. The man may be a fucking sociopath when it comes to a friendly game of poker, but lord, he knows how to play.

“You have to have a redraw yourself.” So plainly stated, so obvious. So I adjust. If I flop top set, I’m not going to go crazy unless the board allows it.

Redraws: not something that are as readily available in NLHE, and a concept that becomes so crystal clear when my Aces get cracked by QJoff, which is what happened a couple nights ago in a $25NL game in which I should have cleaned up. Losing one and a half buy-ins is never fun.

So, I go back to PLO. Stan also says that PLO is where failed NLHE players go to donk off the remainder of their bankroll.

As my dedicated readers know, I’m not a man of means. I play penny stakes out of necessity, which comes with its own hazards, no? The “It’s only a dollar” attitude may prevail at these levels, yet, I have always been an idealist and therefore believe that as long as I play correctly, I shall overcome. Eventually, so the thinking goes, as my bankroll increases from effective play, I will be able to move up in levels. So far, the plan has not gone accordingly, primarily because of the variance in the NLHE games where I tend to play with up to 1/6 or 1/7 of my roll ($25NL). I would play more $10NL, where I fare better with less of my roll on the line, but I get impatient with the slow climb. Not that I go crazy and play more pots; instead, my attention wanders to distractions like email and such. Not so with PLO.

Until yesterday, I have limited my PLO play to the .01/.02 games. Initially, I played six-handed, and while steadily increasing my roll, I still found considerable variance in the wilder sessions. Again, Stan came through with some sage advice: play the 9-person tables, tighten up and know that the play is better. So, I moved, and my numbers got even better, taking down even larger pots.

Last night I found a wild full table. Pots were often over $5, huge for .01/.02. Of course, I was card dead and managed to take down just two, relatively small pots. Meanwhile, one player managed to walk away with the easy cash, and with the drunk donks gone, the table began to break. Yet, at this hour of the night, another table was not readily available. I considered moving up to .02/.05, but there were only 6-person tables. However, scrolling up, I saw that there were 9-person tables in .05/.10. Dare I move up so high? Even though I play $10NL without a second thought, I have been playing NLHE a helluva lot longer than PLO. I would have to be very careful.

My first hand I posted the blind and saw 2 pair, 89, on the flop. Connectors are great when they flop 2 pair on an otherwise uncoordinated board. They’re even better on a coordinated board when you have a straight draw to go with them. I check-raised the pot, and to my surprise, got two callers. The turn was a harmless 6 and I bet the pot with one caller. The river was a K, missed my redraw and checked, as did the caller. He had a been calling with gut shot that missed and won with a better two pair: 6s and Ks. I made a note. I should have rebought back to a full buy-in, for two hands later came this hand:

Total pot $19 Main pot $6.50. Side pot $11.60. | Rake $0.90
Board [9c Th 6c Ks 7d]
Seat 1: bastinptc showed [Js Qc Qh 7h] and won ($18.10) with a straight, Nine to King
Seat 2: Rexyyoda folded on the Flop
Seat 3: Havelhai folded on the Flop
Seat 4: DeepMunti (button) mucked [8c 7c Ah 6h]
Seat 7: mellodreams (small blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 8: speedy194 (big blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 9: heeeeheeee mucked [9d 6s 9h 3h]

Deep Munti had taken the lead on this hand. Heeee called (heeee had been at the previous table as well, and was in fact the player who cleaned up on the donks), giving me strong odds to call the flop. When I hit the straight, I poured it on, and was unpleasantly surprised that both players were staying again with me. I knew that without a redraw, I was in trouble. I just didn’t know how much. When I saw the HH, I was amazed that I had managed to avoid the mines. The hand could have ended so much differently. But I’ll take it.

After that hand, heeee left and who should take his place but Stan! I just knew he was eyeing my stack, as I’m sure everyone left at the table was as well, and the play seemed to point toward that conclusion. Fortunately, I continued a little hot streak, which is nice to have happen when people are gunning for you, and called it a night with a 150% profit. In the course of the evening I had recovered all of that I lost playing NLHE the night before. As I was leaving, I wrote, “It’s all yours, Stan.” I’m certain he did well.


Forrest Gump said...

Good to see things are looking up sir. I was also surprised you were playing 6max PLO - as an Omaha noob myself I find there's just too much action to feel comfortable. Full ring on the other hand plays even easier than NLH as it's just a game of waiting on the nuts.

Memphis MOJO said...

Congrats on a nice session.

How did you learn to play in the first place? Just jump in and play? Isn't there a better way?

bastinptc said...

I have a software that my Dear Mum-In-Law gave me for my birthday 3 years ago. It is T.J. Cloutier's product, and Limit Omaha is on it. I played it for a while quite some time ago. Then, as I started to hear that more and more online players were moving to PLO, I thought I'd see what it was all about. I knew two things about the game: One had to use two hole cards and that it was a game of the nuts. I read the section on Omaha in Super System 2 after I had jumped into the Stars game. The rest has been pretty much by the seat of my pants. I am constantly reviewing hands.

As Gumpo says, wait for the nuts. Even though that is a bit of a simplified response, it's a good place to start. Paranoia and patience are paramount.