Thursday, January 31, 2008

Core Poker Concepts In PLO Strategy

Playing some PLO over the last couple of days has inspired a quick post on how the core concepts of poker relate to this fantastic game.

Sure, some of the strategy is different - where else would you fold the nuts on the flop or push all-in with your drawing hands having a huge positive expectation?

Making a few errors myself, and watching others do the same underlined just how important some of the key strategy concepts in poker are in PLO. These include making bets that will only be called by better hands, big pot play and betting yourself off of a hand.

Here is an example from a $100 buy-in PLO cash game yesterday of making bets that will only be called by a better hand... to be honest this was ugly (was not involved myself). Both players had more than 100 BBs at the start of this hand - here is the action (from memory and with approximate bet sizes).

Player A - Early position - pots to $3.50 pre.
Player B - Cut-off - Calls (everyone else folds)

Flop comes Ks-Qs-2d

That is a scary flop in PLO, one that would have me running for cover without a monster straight / flush draw combo.

Player A - Pots, raising around $9
Player B - Flat calls

Strange play in my eyes on this flop from B. Makes no sense for a set or a draw really - can only imagine that this was some kind of 'float' to take the pot away on the turn...

Turn - Offsuit 3....

A safe card for a player with a made hand.

Player A - Bets approx $20
Player B - Flat Calls Again

Both players still have $65 ish behind and the pot has grown pretty large. Now I'm interested in the hand... what hands explain the action so far?

River - 10s

Well well well, whoever had a draw just hit the best card in the deck! Next comes the play that I did not understand....

Player A - All-in (or as good as) with a pot sized bet.
Player B - Calls and shows As-Jh-10h-7s (might have been different suits but definitely the flush and wrap combo)

Player A mucks K-K-x-x and player B doubles up.

So now the play pre-flop, on the flop and on the turn makes sense from the perspective of player A. From the perspective of player B this is so weak-tight it is not true (but that is a different story and a good reason why the online PLO games can be profitable).

Back to the core concepts of poker.

Player A bet pot on the river here - why? Or rather, what hands that would call this bet was he ahead of? Trip queens? Trip Deuces??!?

The big river bet will make money here in 2 ways - if your opponent folds a hand that he would have called a smaller bet with (a straight in this case). Or if your opponent calls with a weaker hand... here number #2 was out and by calling pot sized bets on 2 streets player B has suggested that #1 is less likely.

So, what happened here from my perspective is that player A made a bet that would only be called by a better hand... a bet with no positive expectation at all. My preferred line, depending on the exact circumstances, when I feel an opponent may have been drawing is to check and call a reasonable sized bet... this gives your opponent a chance to bluff and usually involves having a read of some kind on their aggressiveness and the way that they play draws.

But then again, I'm only a 'learner' when it comes to PLO strategy! What do you think??

GL at those PLO tables, Mark

(will look at the other 'core concepts' some time later!)


Gallopin Gael said...

I too am a beginner when it comes to PLO, but I'm astounded that the $$ didn't get in on the flop.

Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Yr read makes sense to me. When the 10s pops out, the only hand I can imagine that doesn't beat a set of kings would be Q-Q-x-x (stubbornly held by a weak player), but that hand probably ain't callin' the pot-sized bet on the end. So yes, a "zero" play.

I'm w/you check-calling a value bet or check-folding to a big bet here on the end (if I'm K-K-x-x). (Sort of described something similar over on HBP today.) I also wouldn't just be calling w/that big draw on flop, either (if I'm As-Jh-10h-7s).

But I'm just a learner, too.

F-Badger said...

You may just be learning it but you aint stupid and you can play poker. Unlike player A. Of course his river bet is horrible and you are correct. I am just learning too.. but I am up 13k this month!! :-)

Mark said...

Thanks guys - always good to know my logical thinking is in tact!

No idea why B did not at least try to get the chips in on the flop!

Cheers, Mark