I decided not to play that $200 PLO8 tournament last week because I felt like I would have been pretty dead money. I’m really rusty at the game and have only played a little actual pot-limit; most of my experience with high-low has just been limit. I’ve played a decent amount of Omaha High for $5-10 blinds, but it was live. After going on PokerStars and playing in a low-limit .50-1.00 6-max cash game, I decided I wasn’t up on my basic theory to enter the tournament. I ran real well, running my buy-in up ten times what I bought in, but still knew I was flailing around a bit and getting pretty lucky.
I went to Steve Badger’s Play Winning Poker site to bone up on my basic strategy and I found his advice on the game to be some of the best I’ve read. Which makes sense because Omaha’s supposed to be his best game. If you want very easy-to-understand and very practical synopses of key strategies in a wide variety of games, his site is definitely one you want to check out. It’s not advanced, and I know there’s very good books out there on the subject, but for a beginner-level treatment of basic strategy, it was good.
His posts on the subject supported one of the basic flaws I saw in most people’s games when I went online; most people are just playing way too tight pre-flop. I was amazed by how often I could just raise a little bit pre-flop and take down a pot, or else just call knowing there was a very small chance anyone would raise.
I guess it’s due partly to the myth in PLO8 that it doesn’t pay to raise much pre-flop, but I love getting it heads up in these games just because the tight players at this level make their hands pretty apparent a lot of the time. Most of my opponents were multi-tabling and playing a very tight ABC game, which made it very easy to play against them. They must have thought that my high “saw-the-flop” percentage, combined with my high bet-the-flop percentage meant that I was a fish. But I was only putting in substantial amounts of money post-flop when I thought I had the best of it. My small feeler bets and small flop bluffs were all just designed to make me look more crazy than I was. I was actually playing very solid hands when large amounts of money went in, and they were paying me off with very subpar hands.
I think these low-limit PLO8 games, just from the little I’ve seen, are pretty easily exploitable, because you’ve got so many tight players that do not adjust to a decent loose aggressive player in the game. Well, that’s what happens when you multi-table, in my opinion. I don’t see how you could adjust to someone switching up gears in these games if you’re playing 15 tables, like one of these guys was.
I got 4th in the $100 NLHE tournament last week – first one I’d played in a month or so. I wasn’t happy with my play, but still ended up doing all right. There were a couple hands in particular at the final table where I should have gone with my initial read of the situation instead of doing the “safe” thing. In both instances, I saw the results so I knew I would have been right with my initial analysis. Long story short – I played very passively, which is unusual for me.
I wish in hindsight that I had thought for a few seconds longer about a couple of these hands – I don’t know why I sometimes feel rushed to make a decision. I think it must stem from my instinct to seem nonchalant at the table. It’s a hold-over from playing limit, where you were more consistently rewarded for having a nonchalance about the money at stake. But it’s a silly thing to be acting that way at the final table of a tournament when decisions really matter. Plus they were all regulars at the table anyway so it’s not as if they don’t know that I can play well, so there’s no reason to not take an extra few seconds on decisions.
Even though I cashed, I felt pretty stupid about my play the other night, and am really making an effort to not psychologically beat myself up for these mistakes. They may not have been considered mistakes by most people, but they were mistakes because I know I could have played those hands better.