Have you ever played Big O?
Prior to yesterday, I’d only played it once, and that was in a mixed game tournament and only for a single orbit. It didn’t go well for me and set in motion a downward spiral that ended with me wandering a hallway thinking that I had thought I was pretty good at mixed games before the Big O round.
Last night temptation met opportunity, in the form of a friend running a Big O game via a smart phone poker app. What could possibly go wrong? I read two online Big O strategy articles and joined the waiting list.
For the uninitiated, Big O is Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo featuring five hole cards rather than the traditional four. In these split pot games, a low hand must be 8-high or lower to qualify; if no one has a qualifying low hand, the high hand wins the entire pot. It’s PLO8 on steroids.
I didn’t make any notes while playing, but here are a few highlights that I can recall from a 2.5 hour session.
- Just a few hands in, I flopped a nut flush draw and completed the flush on the turn. The turn card was also a third low card. I bet pot, a single opponent raised all-in with the nut low, and we split the pot, winning just a few dollars each from the pre-flop and flop betting when more than two players were still involved. That wasn’t very satisfying.
- Shortly after that, I flopped top set on a K53 board and bet pot. There were 2 or 3 callers. A deuce on the turn slowed me down, however, as now there were possible low hands and straights. No reason to go crazy just to chop the pot again. Or worse. Everyone checked the turn and again when an 8 fell on the river. The player on my right had A46xx for the “double nuts.” I don’t know why he didn’t bet… but I glad I slowed down. After that flop, this was a Big O’disappointment.
- With KQJ8x in the big blind, the flop was T96♣♣. After a bet and raise, I called. Maybe that was dumb, but I had a wrap (i.e., straight draw with more than eight outs; in this case I had around 11 outs with any non-club K, Q, J, 8 or 7). Wraps are much more powerful on rainbow boards. The turn 7♦ completed my nut straight and I bet pot. Three players called, making the pot ~ 345 BBs. The river Q♣ gave me a higher straight but also put three clubs on the board. Gaaaah! Everybody checked to the button, who went all-in. I folded my straight but one other player called so we saw a showdown –> the button had the nut flush. #TheyAlwaysHaveIt apparently in Big O too. Almost a big pot for me. Instead, another Big O’disappointment with half of my starting stack of 200 BBs gone.
- On another hand I had AAKQx and the flop was AJT rainbow. Cha-ching! Does it get any better? I put out a blocker size bet, a couple players called, then one player made a pot-sized raise. Pretty quickly the two of us were all-in. He showed JJQxx for middle set and a gutshot draw to a Broadway straight vs. my top set and already made Broadway straight. He had one out to win with quads, and three outs to chop as any of the remaining K’s would complete Broadway. As I’m yelling SHIP IT-T-T-T-T!!!the way one does when the only one listening is a computer …the river is another K and we chop. OMFG. Two hands after trying to give me all of his chips, that player gave his stack to someone else. Big O’disappointment number three.
- Later still, I had A258x and the flop was 764 rainbow. Double nuts. I bet 75% of pot on each of the flop, turn 9 and river K, getting calls from one player each time. He also had the nut low, giving me 3/4 of the pot. No complaints on this one; only minor regrets at not making at least one full pot bet.
I won a few smaller pots and tried really hard not to lose any big ones. Eventually I got even and ahead a few bucks and decided to call it an early night.
It felt like I was really close to running up a huge stack. Maybe next time.
— KK David