First, apologies for not posting in so long. No excuses, I’m just going to start again.
I played my first session of straight PLO last week, and it was a little of a mixed blessing. It was great because I recorded my first winning session of PLO. I’ve played PLO as part of a mix a lot in the past two years, but any time I played it straight up, I had lost.
It was not as good for improving my game because I ran so good. I must have flopped top set six or seven times throughout the night. The first hand where I got my stack in I had middle set on the flop, turned the open ended straight draw (OESD), and hit it on the river for the nuts. I was ahead the whole hand, but again, I was just running good.
It was a mixed blessing because I’m really interested in improving my PLO game, and the run good made it difficult to differentiate between good luck and good play. One change to my game that I wanted to try was betting less when I had a hand I could continue to the turn, but that had poor or no redraws, like a set or top two pair. In the past I might have bet pot and inflated the pot for the turn or check called any bet. This time I tried taking control of the pot size myself.
The other change I tried was playing a lot looser. I have to admit that the few times I had played PLO straight up, I felt like I was playing so tight that I don’t think I gave myself enough of a chance to practice the game. A lot had to do with the advice I read in Jeff Hwang’s Pot Limit Omaha, The Big Play Strategy book. I eliminated the marginal hands talked about in the game, and tried to only play hands that had four connected cards. I tried playing three connected cards, and I felt like I got a lot more chances to mess up post flop play. Danglers (unconnected cards) are always a problem in PLO, but I wanted to splash around in some pots and this was my way of doing so.
I also noticed during my session that some of the players that I thought would be pretty solid were making what I thought were common PLO mistakes, like playing for small straights (6 or lower) or playing small sets (again 6 or lower) very aggressively. This can lead to a lot of dominated hands or hands that are very vulnerable. That gave me the confidence to push my chips in more frequently, knowing that I could recognize some of the mistakes others were making.
I also saw a lot of play with totally unconnected cards, sort of the any four cards can win. This was also surprising to me in that straight up PLO doesn’t run very often, and my guess was that most people would play in that game would be the more experienced players. Not so! I didn’t see the other perennial PLO error as often that night, over playing aces post flop.
One of the things that I was pretty happy with was my strategy to raise any pot with four connected cards (since most other players were raising with premiums only) and then not continuation betting unless the boards were really dry. I was able to take down a couple of pots on the flop with air this way where people just assumed that I had top set (again, quite a few other times they were right about top set!)
I leave you with one of the hands that I thought I played fairly well, but I let you be the judge of it. It has been some time so all the details may not be exact. I was in the cut-off with J-J-A-3, ace and three were suited and I have about $450. It gets limped around, and I call and so does the button who has about $400. Flop is J-T-3, two clubs. Gets checked to me, and I bet pot. Button calls, and everyone else folds. Turn is another 3, flush draw still out there, and I bet about half pot since I have everything pretty crushed. To my surprise button raises me close to pot. I think for a moment, not sure what he is putting me on to make this kind of play.
The only hand I am behind is pocket threes. Maybe he is putting me on straight and flush draws, and wants to end it here. I think about my river play. I am fairly certain that villain has a made hand here, maybe three of a kind or pocket tens, and I’m pretty sure there are few cards on the river (a jack?) that he will check behind. So I just call. River completes the flush, but is otherwise a blank. I check as planned and button bets over $100. I think for a moment for effect, and check raise all-in. Villain tanks, which is great for me, since now I know there’s no quads. He flips over Q-6 of clubs for a flush to get a read on me. I stay calm and try to look down like a bluffer would. I finally make a mistake (because I like the guy) when he asks me if I will show if he folds, and I nod my head. He folds and flips up T-3 as his other two cards. What a great fold!
I later told him thanks, because the only way he can call there is if he thinks I am a bad player and would check raise there with a flush. The check on the river was a calculated risk, but I could have easily lost two streets of value. I think bet/folding the river was perfect, as I could have easily looked him up with the nut flush, but I don’t think he expected my check raise on the river or he would not have tanked for so long. What do you guys think? I am looking forward to more PLO in my future!