I’ve started playing Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) at the very low stakes, online. PLO offers a nice change of pace from Texas Holdem. I’m a novice, trying to figure it out. Much of what I’m writing today might be totally wrong and I’m OK with that.
Basically, PLO is like professional baseball. Major League teams play 162 games. A team that wins 100 times is crushing it, yet this is only a 61.7% winning percentage. Compare that to the NBA, where the Houston Rockets won 79.3% of their regular season games, or the NFL where several teams finished 13-3 last fall (81.3%).
A baseball team with 100 wins almost always wins their division, finishing 38 games ahead of a team with the opposite record of 62-100. Yet when they play a weekend series, the underdog is always considered to have a decent chance of winning a short series, even though they are terrible and the other team is excellent.
Most PLO hands start out this way. Hands that appear dominant have a decent chance (usually greater than 35%) of losing, even against a single opponent with a random hand.
The best PLO hand pre-flop is AAKK double suited. Against a single random hand, it is a 70.6% favorite. Compare that to AA, the best Holdem hand, which is an 85.2% favorite against a single random opponent.
The bigger bets go in after the flop, turn or river cards. Again, there are many PLO situations where the post-flop equity is somewhere between 40% and 60%, with all sorts of combinations draws being possible. You must be on the right side of the 60/40 most of the time when the money goes in. You’ll still lose a lot… note that our excellent MLB team loses 62 times in a single baseball season. That’s a lot of losing!
In poker, we simply call that “variance.” PLO has much higher variance than Holdem. Baseball has much higher variance that basketball or football, where the truly terrible teams have virtually no chance of winning a single game agains the best teams.
Being on the right side of PLO’s 60/40 or 55/45 situations will pay off in the long run, as long as you maintain good bankroll management, and never lose sight of the fact that the long run is very long.
Another comparison to baseball is the need in PLO to be involved in many more flops. In Holdem, one can play a very tight pre-flop range, with great discipline and patience. This is like the NFL, where there are only 16 regular season games. Those players practice a lot, but only compete once per week.
MLB has 162 regular season games. PLO is more like that; and you should call pre-flop raises with a lot of hands that have decent potential to make the nuts even if the pre-equity is fairly low, especially in position. This is possible at the micro-stakes online, where there isn’t a lot of 3- and 4-betting; not sure if this holds at higher online stakes or live play. Because of rapid acceleration of bet sizes in PLO, combined with the frequency of “dominant” pre-flop hands quickly becoming worthless post-flop, it’s important to “be present to win” often enough to capitalize when flops and turns are favorable.
There is still much to learn.
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