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PLO at Harrah's

After playing bocce ball with Mark at his party and getting my legs completely eaten alive by mosquitos at city park, i hit up Harrah's to play some cards. Recently there's been a surging interest in PLO by the locals, meaning that there's been an irregular occurrence of 1/2 PLO there which is the only stakes i can afford to play. I decided to start an interest list to see if i could start the game up, then sat down to a 1/2 NLHE table in the meantime. The game did end up starting up about a half hour after i sat down.

Generally, the regulars at Harrah's don't know how to play PLO very well. A lot of the 2/5 NLHE players like to play it because it generates a lot of action. They understand some of the basic principles of what hands are actually strong vs. not strong, but time and time again they fall into the trap of not being able to fold their sets or straights when it's clear that they've been outdrawn. One of the guys who came in around the middle of my session, an Asian regular 2/5 player, is notorious for this. I played 1/2 PLO with him a few weeks ago, and it was clear that his solid aggressive style in NLHE did him initially okay in PLO, but his lack of true PLO understanding made him drop about $2000 over that evening.

He played last night too. A classic example of this happened in last night's session against me. PF he raises to $10-12. The board was J46 rainbow. He bets out somewhere around $50 (there are maybe six people in). One person before me calls. I also call because i have 578x. Turn comes a Q. He bets $85. Second guy folds. $85 is maybe half-pot, but i still have a damned decent draw and great implied odds against him specifically. I considered pushing over the top (he had $250ish behind, i had him covered), but that was the wrong thing for this person in particular because i don't gain any fold equity with him with the push (he hardly ever folded if he hit strong on the flop), i think that it's a high probability that if i hit, then i can get the rest of his stack because he won't be able to fold, and if i miss, i save money. So i just call.

River comes an 8. So now i have a straight to the 8, the second nuts. He fires out $100. I think for a moment and then repop him for the rest of his chips. I mean, if he happened to backdoor the nuts with 910, so be it. He calls, i show my straight, he folds, showing that he had flopped top set.

His play up until the river was decent (although a stronger bet on the turn would have been better), but his river play was atrocious. Betting out with a texture like that is just a blind bet with top set, but on top of that, when i repop him for his remaining $150 after calling the flop and the turn, knowing specifically how *i* play as a PLO player which ha had been doing for the past three hours plus the other session which was about eight hours, the only possible thing i could have is a straight. Anything less would have warranted a reluctant call or fold.

And I was fairly certain he was going to call. he had been making plays like that all night in addition to when he played a couple of weeks ago. Like the other night, he ended up dropping about $1500-$2000 that night.


But the *really* crazy hand of the evening happened earlier. It was the hand that was going to make me broke stuck for $500, or bring me back to life.

I was in the small blind. I had AhJc9h8c. The table was very loose pf. There are 8 or so players in the hand when it comes around to me. I have a strong starting hand, but i'm way out of position and only have $100 total, so i opt to limp to see what happens on the flop.

The asian guy is in the bb. He raises to 12. Everyone calls around to me, and suddenly the situation is very different. I completely take away the out of position disadvantage if i shove, and my hand, while not the strongest, is still pretty damned strong, particularly against most of the people on the table who have such a wide pf calling range. I go all in for my $100 to try to isolate, figuring that the asian guy is going to call and i may get one other caller, and i have a decent chance to double or triple up.

asian guy calls. Guy after that also calls. Guy after *that* calls. Next guy goes all in for his short stack of $65 left or so. One person folds. Next guy calls. The guy to my right, who was a solid player and also only has $100 in front of him, tells me as the action starts to go around, "if i'm getting 5 or 6:1 on this i might have to call you." He has pocket 3s with two other random higher cards and one suit, which i think is diamonds. He does end up calling.

SIX CALLERS. About $660 in the pot preflop on a 1/2 PLO game. So much for fucking isolating.

Board comes with 2 hearts and a 3, so the guy to my right has a set of 3s, i flopped the nut flush draw. the exact cards i don't remember other than to say that it was nowhere near my straight outs, so hearts are the only thing to help me. The three people that have chips left check around. The turn comes a blank. Maybe made an insight straight draw down low. Three guys check.

River comes a heart, no paired board. I have the nuts. They check around, i turn over my hand, i rake in the pot.

from $100 all in to $760ish in a single hand of 1/2. When does *that* ever happen in hold 'em.

That last hand happened after about six or so hours of me grinding, getting rivered 4 times in a single half-hour, &c, &c. I ended up winning a few other key hands after that (one was the first one i described) and came away with a healthy profit.

PLO is a crazy action game in general, even more so at Harrah's because the 2/5 NLHE players see it as a big action game and therefore want to try it and make it even bigger. So the swings are pretty great, but against most of those people i know i have an edge that i lack when i play NLHE, and the few people that are actually smart enough to play PLO well are (at this stake level) roughly the same skill as me.

So i think i should probably pick up a good PLO book or buy a subscription to cardrunners for a month if they're still running (because it's because of studying and analyzing a few omaha and omaha/8 specialists on CR that i have the level of knowledge that i currently have), refine some of my understanding, find my leaks, and try to increase my edge. In the long run, i think it will do me a lot of good.

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March 2017