From time to time I play a little bit of late night online cash game poker, using the screen name of “Jeez L’weez.”
Last night this involved a short-handed PLO game, with blinds of $1/2 and a $0.25 ante. I bought in for $400.
On the 4th hand, I got A♠A♣K♦8♣ in the big blind. This is definitely a premium hand, with a pair of aces being the pre-flop nuts and a nut flush opportunity to go with it. On the other hand, I’ll be out of position post-flop (7 players at this point).
Aces aren’t nearly as strong in PLO as they are in NL Hold’em. In NLH, pocket aces come on average once every 221 hand. Against an unknown random hand (i.e., a range of all other possible hands) AA is an 85% favorite and drops 12 points to 73% against two opponents. In PLO, a pair of aces comes on average once every 39 hands. My PLO hand above would be a 65% favorite against an unknown hand and drops 18 points to 47% against two opponents.
No one had raised in front of me and I keep the pot fairly small, don’t improve, and lose when the board pairs on the river, giving another player trips.
The next following hand, I get a nearly identical hand with A♥A♣K♣7♠. This time, there’s a pot-sized raise to $8.50, and two callers in front of me. The original raiser started the hand with about $150 in his stack. I re-pot to $46 and the original raiser goes all-in. I’m pretty happy with that! Then the 2nd caller, on the button, calls again. Yee-hah! Now I re-raise all-in and he calls again.
Me – A♥A♣K♣7♦ – main pot 43.1%, side pot 64.0%
Short stack – K♥K♦Q♣3♥– main pot 23.2%, side pot n/a
Button – 7♠7♣6♠4♦ – main pot 33.7%, side pot 36.0%
The total pot is approx. $910. My equity is approx. $487, which represents +EV of $110 gain for this hand.
I decline to run it twice and the board runs out 8♥6♣Q♦ – 3♣ – 5♥, giving the button a straight and the entire pot.
I reload for another $400.
Six hands later I get KKxx rainbow and win a modest pot.
A few hands after that I call a straddle from the small blind with J♦T♦9♥5♠ and turned the nut straight on a board of 8♣K♠7♥–T♥, as the the villain, and we got all-in. Holding Q♣J♠9♦5♣, he had a redraw for a higher straight,
Me – J♦T♦9♥5♠ – 40%
Villain – Q♣J♠9♦5♣ – 60%
With a total pot of $902, my equity is approx. $361, which was -EV of -$79 for the hand. We ran it twice and I escaped getting coolered.
Several hands later and now playing 5-handed, I get A♠A♣6♦3♦ and win a modest pot with one pair.
The very next hand I get KKxx again and win another small pot. That’s five hands with AA or KK out of fewer than 30 total hands. No flopped sets. No flushes. Down $255 for the session.
Six more hands later, I get A♥A♦T♥8♥. There’s a straddle and pot-sized raise by a short stack player (he started with $98) and one caller in front of me. I re-pot and get all-in with the original raiser. We run it twice this time.
Me – A♥A♦T♥8♥ – 64%
Villain – A♣8♠7♠3♣ – 36%
The pot is approx. $214, making my equity $137, or +EV of $39 gain for this hand.
Yet I come up empty handed again, as the spade flush comes on the first runout, and he flops the club flush in the second board.
35 hands played, six with AA or KK, down $395 for the session.
I continue playing, winning some, losing others, keeping my stack in a relatively narrow range. Playing 4-handed, I get 7♥6♣5♣4♠ on the button and a beautiful flop of A♥2♣3♣. On a turn 7♠ I get all-in with another player who also flopped a straight but with no redraw for a flush or higher straight. Any 5, 6 or club will win the hand for me. The best he can do is chop.
Me – 7♥6♣5♣4♠ – 64%
Villain – A♣Q♦5♠4♥ – 36%
The pot is approx. $896, making my equity $573, or +EV of $125 for this hand.
I cheerfully run it twice, hoping to end up with 3/4 of the pot, however we are left with an equal chop after neither river card improves my hand.
A bit later on my 68th hand at this table, still 4-handed, I win another small pot with KKxx, this time double-suited.
Hand #73 brings KKxx again and I surrender quickly on a monotone flop that doesn’t help me. Despite so many AAxx and KKxx 7♥6♣5♣4♠ onhands, I’m still down nearly $300.
And that’s the whole point about PLO. Good starting hands do matter, but they must improve to be able to win larger pots that lead to a winning session. In NLH you can make a living off unimproved AA and KK. Notsomuch in PLO.
I keep battling. On my 95th hand and playing 3-handed, another KKxx wins another small pot.
I really should go to bed at this point, when a new player joins the table. Now we are 4-handed.
Then it happens. On my 122nd hand at this table, the new player straddles, the other three of us call, then the new guy min-raises to $8. Now the button re-raises to $22. With A♦6♣5♦4♣, I call from the small blind. I like this type of PLO hand with a suited ace and three connecting cards and there are multiple favorable ways this can unfold. BB folds and the straddler also calls.
A 6♠4♥9♦ flop gave me bottom 2-pair, plus a backdoor nut flush draw and backdoor straight draw. After I check, the straddler guy bets $53 into a pot of $71 and the button calls. I’m not going away yet and also call.
The turn brings a beautiful 3♦, helping both of my backdoor draws. I bet pot ($230), the straddler calls and the button re-raises to put both of us all-in. LFG time!
Me – A♦6♣5♦4♣ – 30.6%
Straddle guy – K♠8♦8♣7♦ – 13.9%
Button – Q♣9♠9♥5♣ – 55.5%
Both the straddle guy and I agree to run it twice, but Mr. Button says no. My equity is approx. $391 or -EV of -$45 for this hand. Here again you see how close EV calculations are in PLO. Given how much I had invested in the pre-flop and flop betting, check-folding the turn would be a mathematical mistake.
And what a mistake! The river 2♥ completes my straight and wins a $1280 pot.
I’ve said before than in the long run, poker players gets what they deserve. Let’s see how that worked out here, looking at these all-in spots.
Hand #1 –> equity $487 // result $0
Hand #2 –> equity $361 // result $451
Hand #3 –> equity $137 // result $0
Hand #4 –> equity $573 // result $448
Hand #5 –> equity $391 // result $1280
Totals –> equity $1,949 // result 2,179
Pretty dang close! For all the ups and downs, all the big starting hands that went nowhere (or worse), I got about what I deserved out of this session. Actually slightly better, albeit with a bit of sleep deprivation.