Friday, April 15, 2011

P L...No

I've been enjoying watching the pot-limit Omaha cash game on NBC's "Poker After Dark" this week. I had also noticed Pokerati's announcement that its regular $1/2 mixed NLHE/PLO Thursday night game had found a new home at the Palms, after some time at Hard Rock and then Aria. That was largely the reason that I chose Palms for my home last night--to at least watch that game for a while and see if it was something I might want to try one of these days.

My only experience with PLO has been as part of an 8-game mix online in low-stakes tournaments. I've also read Jeff Hwang's PLO strategy columns in Card Player magazine for a year or so. But that little bit of education and experience isn't a lot to go on. Wednesday night, anticipating that I might want to try to play in the Pokerati game, I jumped on PokerStars to give it a try. I was playing only $0.05/0.10, buying in for only $10, yet I lost three buy-ins in less than 30 minutes. Ouch! Welcome to reality.

That was enough to make me think twice about the wisdom of playing in a live PLO cash game; I really just don't have enough experience or strategic handle on the game to make it a smart move. But I succumbed to temptation nevertheless, and moved to that table from my $1/3 NLHE game when they were ready to start.

The outcome was fully predictable: I lost my buy-in. I was largely card-dead, and nearly every one of my few good starting hands hit me when I was severely out of position, and somehow managed to completely miss the flops.

But it wasn't a complete loss: (1) I had fun. (2) It was an interesting diversion from my usual poker fare. (3) I got to meet (finally!) Dan from Pokerati, as well as Don, who is the partner of Stacey Lynn at Las Vegas Poker Source. (4) I was reminded of the general wisdom of sticking to games and situations in which I have reason to think that I'm playing with an edge over my opponents, which was most certainly not the case last night. (My only "edge" was that I seemed to be the only one at the table capable of memorizing four cards and thus not having to recheck them a dozen times during the course of a hand. C'mon, folks--it's not that difficult!)

PLO is an interesting and challenging game. Many are of the opinion that it's on its way to supplanting NLHE as "the next big thing" in poker. Whether that's true or not, it's almost surely the case that there are many hold'em players who are getting tired of playing 2-card poker, find that PLO is an attractive next game to try, don't know how to adjust their strategies and expectations properly, and thus are easy pickings for more skilled players. I'd like to be among those able to take advantage of that situation for however long it lasts.

But I need both more solid theoretical grounding and practical (and cheap) experience before I do more than dipping my toe in those exciting but dangerous waters.

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