Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I've never done a pot-limit Omaha tournament before (at least not that I can remember). But that's what the WBCOOP schedule called for today, so that's what I did. I had no serious hope of performing well, with so little experience in the game, but it was a fun diversion.

I did get a couple of lovely-looking hands, though they didn't pay off at all well:

The game was easy at first, with hands like that. I also got AAxx hands ten times in the first 143 hands. Most remarkably, I won every one of them, mostly with a pre-flop raise, but once felted an opponent with KKxx when we both flopped sets.

That frequency of AAxx starting hands seemed kind of high to me, so I ran some numbers. If I've done my math right, there are 14,700 starting hands containing exactly two aces, and 270,725 possible Omaha starting hands, yielding an average probability of being dealt two aces of 0.0543, or about 1/18. My 10/143 is 0.0699, or about 1/14, so only slightly higher than average. And then I went card-dead, never seeing them again, so my overall tournament frequency was 10 in 209 hands, or 0.0478, or about 1/21, slightly less frequently than would be expected. (No, I'm not thinking that AAxx is necessarily a monster hand in Omaha. I get how it's different from hold'em. If you don't, see here for a primer.)

My first table might have been the easiest one in the whole tourney. There were five people sitting out who just got blinded off. Of the other three players, none was tricky. They would bet when they had something good, check otherwise. Even better, when I was on the button, the small blind was sitting out and the big blind would only defend his blind when he had a really big starting hand. When I was in the cutoff, the button and the big blind were both sitting out, and the small blind was that same non-defending player. I was thus able to steal relentlessly. When I was in the small blind, the big blind was sitting out, and when I was in the big blind the small blind was sitting out, with not too many steals going on, so I got lots of walks. Easy poker! I chipped up nicely and was sitting pretty for the first hour and a half or so.

But then things all went south. The sitter-outers got blinded off, I went card-dead, and some of the tourney monster stacks with hyper-aggressive styles got moved to my table, pretty much all at once. That's a bad combination. Predictably, my stack stayed pretty much static while the tourney average rocketed up. And I was toast.

In short, I can play PLO really, really well when (1) you hit me with the deck, and (2) put me at a completely passive and straightforward table. Give me some card trouble and aggressive opponents, though, and I wither away. Yep, that's me, the big-time pro player!

Here's how I went out:

At first I thought that he had check-raised me on the turn with nothing but the king-high flush draw (and I tweeted to that effect). It was only in looking at the replay that I noticed that he had a made straight there, too, so I can't fault him. But I had two pair, straight draw, and queen-high flush draw with a below-average stack, so I think that my shove was pretty defensible, and maybe the only sensible thing to do there. After all, even if I gave him credit for the straight, I wouldn't think that he would be so lucky as to also have one of the only two flush draws that would beat me, and even if he did I had the boat possibility. The odds calculator at cardplayer.com tells me that I was 58% to win before the flop, 67% on the flop, then only 25% on the turn. But I think it would be hard to be sufficiently confident of being in that badly at that point so as to make the fold, and, besides, it would mean being left with a really short stack in a fast-moving tournament. Players with more PLO experience are welcome to comment about whether I blew this hand or handled it reasonably.

Ah well. It was kinda fun anyway. Back to hold'em for the events of Wednesday and Thursday.

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