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Pot Limit Omaha – Where Nobody Knows What They’re Doing

January 13, 2018

The PLO game at Palace on Wednesdays has $1/$3 blind structure but it is $5 to come in, so it plays more like a $2/$5 game. The max buy in is $1000. My strategy when I initially sit down is to buy $500 in green and red chips and keep $1500 in black chips in my pocket. I like to start with a shorter stack while I get a feel for how the game is playing and see what the other stacks look like after a few orbits. If some of that action players double up or max buy, I will top off myself, unless I’ve already doubled up. Also, Washington state law has a cap at a bet and three raises and the max bet in Washington is $300, so while the game is pot limit, it does have some restrictions.

I don’t think I’m an expert PLO player. Shoot, I don’t even think I’m proficient – I think I would struggle in a lineup full of competent players. Fortunately, the typical Palace lineup is ultra juicy and I’ve been able to murder this game even though I don’t think I’m particularly good. I make some really dumb mistakes at times and in the interest of authenticity, I will usually post those hands.

Session 1 – January 3rd, 2018

I limp along on the button with TT95 double suited. This is a pretty poor hand. I’m only playing it because there are people in the pot I want to gamble with and it’s $5 to call. I’m definitely not looking to play a big pot with a flush. The flop comes down T96 rainbow, giving me top set and a backdoor flush draw. One of the limpers leads out for $20 – which is probably near pot – I call and so does the small blind. The turn is the Qc, giving me a flush draw to go with my set and both players check to me. I think this is a good spot to bet in a typical PLO game, but the thing I love about the Palace game is that these guys are simply incapable of folding. I really think the flop bettor has 87 and I don’t think he’s going to fold it, so I decide to check back and see a free river. I brick, the flop bettor makes it $45, I fold, the small blind calls and the bettor wins with 87xx.

I raise in MP with AQT2 double suited and four of us see the KT9 two spade flop. I have no spades in my hand and this board is super wet, so I check and it checks around. The turn is the As and it checks to me again. I only have one player to act behind me and I would imagine he would bet his straights and good flush draws, the two players in front of me have checked twice, so I bet $60 and wind up taking it down. Not too interesting except I’m surprised to get zero resistance on this board.

Someone makes it $15, His Airness (one of my all-time favorites) calls and so does the other action player. I call with KK73ss on the button and 5 of us see a flop of 954 with one spade. It checks around. The turn is the 6 of spades, giving me the second nuts and a king high flush draw. His Airness leads out $60, it folds to me, I make it $140, it folds to him, he makes it $280, and I call. The river brings my flush in, he makes a blocker bet of $80 and I make it $260, worried that I might lose him if I go for max value. He calls and my flush is good.

I can’t remember who my opponent was in this hand, but I wish I did because it’s a classic. I forgot to note where I am in this hand, but I’m guessing I was in one of the blinds. I call $20 with JTss88. Four of us see the flop and I lead $50 on T96 rainbow. One player calls me and I bet $130 on the 2 of club turn. He calls. The river is the Qc, giving me a straight, but completing a backdoor flush. I decide to check and pick off bluffs or misguided value bets. He bets $205. I call. He shows… Ac7cK7.

A player I will refer to as Slimer (for reasons that need not be mentioned) makes it $15 blind from UTG, His Airness calls, I make it $50 with QcJcJs9s from middle position and both of them call. The flop is Tc8cXs and it checks to me. I have a wrap, straight flush draw, and an overpair, so I bet $100. Only His Airness calls and then he donks $120 when the ten pairs on the turn. I’m not buying it. I make it $420 and he folds 7c6c face up. 9 of clubs on the turn one time?! I wrote these notes a week ago, so I don’t remember all the particulars. I’m sitting here typing this and wondering if raising the turn is really my best line, but I’m guessing the stacks were shallow enough that I determined I was willing to play for everything and didn’t want to do any guessing on the river.

This was a totally insane hand. I didn’t choose to write about it because I was in the pot, but because of how crazy it was and some of the questions it raises. Someone makes it $10, the pot is already mulitway, and I call with AJ75 with a suited ace on the button. The flop comes down 432 rainbow giving me the second nuts with a redraw to the nut straight and a backdoor nut flush draw. It checks to the player on my right and he bets $35. I call, Pay-Off Pete calls in the small blind, and now the big blind makes it $235. It folds to the flop bettor and he makes it $535 ($300 max bet in play now). I snap muck and it folds back to Peter. In a shocking development, Peter makes it $835 and the flop betting is now capped. The other two players both call. The turn is the 8h, Peter goes all in for $202 and both players call again. The river pairs the 8 and the big blind bets $300 and the other player calls. The main pot has ~$3200 in it and the whole pot is now $4000! The big blind scoops it all with 44xx. He flopped a naked set of 4s and turned a flush draw before filling up on the river. Peter and the other player both had 65xx with no redraws.

Just bonkers. The big blind had the opportunity to close the action on the flop for $35 with two possible straights on board and three players invested in front of him already. Instead, he raised with the 4th best hand on the flop (granted, I’d rather have his hand than mine) and wound up having to pay $800 more to see the turn! And over $1000 total before he finally made the best hand. Just sick.

And I think Peter should have folded on the flop, as played. He opted to check-call with the nuts originally to avoid a high variance line before seeing the turn and by the time it came back to him it was $535 to go and it was obvious that at least one – if not both – of his opponents had the same hand he did. And while he had a pair of 4s with his straight, he had no actual redraws. He had $45 invested at this point and had to risk over $1000 to win, at best, half of what was in the pot – with basically no chance to win it all. There is just no way that’s a profitable play. Sometimes you flop the nuts in PLO and the best play is folding.

We are playing 4-handed at this point, Peter limps in, I limp on the button with KQ93dd, one of the blinds makes it $15 and everyone calls. The flop is AJT with two diamonds giving me the nut straight and the nut flush draw. It checks to me, I bet $25, and only Peter calls. The turn is a king and I bomb it because I want to charge Peter the max if he turned a straight and I’m freerolling. The river bricks though and he leads pot, I go all in, etc. and he escaped with half the pot with his ugly QTxx or whatever he had… all I remember is that it was super gross!

I ended up finishing this session +$1380

Session 2 – January 10th, 2018

This session had all the potential to be my biggest losing session in any game ever.

In my first disaster hand, Action Bronson limps, another action player limps, a good player makes it $25, and I call with AKJ5 with a suited ace. Five of us see the QT5 rainbow flop. I have bottom pair, a broadway wrap, and the backdoor nut flush draw. Action Bronson pots it for $125 and it folds to me. I’m only $600ish deep at this point, so I make it $425 to commit, he puts me all in. He has KJT9 which is actually a big favorite over my hand. I just ran the odds and he’s 50% to scoop and 23% to tie, which means my scooping chances are only 27% (and I did this calculation assuming has no backdoor flush draw). So I actually got it in pretty bad here and wound up getting stacked.

This is right after that last hand, so I’m on a fresh reload and reconsidering my approach. I don’t 3-bet in this game a lot, but by this point, it’s clear to me that the good player is constantly trying to isolate Action Bronson and the other active player and doesn’t necessarily have great hands when he’s doing this. So when Action Bronson limps and this guy makes it $20 again and another player calls, I decide to 3-bet with AQQ5 double suited to $85. Action Bronson folds, but the last two players call. The flop is T32 rainbow and since there is over $250 in the pot and I started the hand with $500ish and the board is super dry, I just bomb it to commit myself. They both fold. Eh. Maybe not the right line of thinking on the flop. The board is super dry, so a pot-sized bet is kind of ridiculous, as I’m only likely to get action from hands that flopped sets or big straight draws. I suppose I was just happy to take the pot down right there and not have to do any guessing on future streets, but I’m not sure it’s the right approach.

Active player (a major regular – I just haven’t thought of a good name yet) felted a hand or two ago and reloaded for $200 in red and opens to $15, the good player tries to isolate from the button to $35, the small blind calls, and I defend JJT7 double suited from the big blind. The flop comes down T85 giving me an overpair, a bad gutshot, and two backdoor flush draws. The active player leads out for $50 and the good player just calls. It folds to me. Since the good player is just calling here, I don’t expect him to have a hand that can stand a raise and the active player could literally have plenty of hands I’m doing well against and started with $200 and only has $115 behind now, so I decide to make it $225 expecting to get all in with the active player in a heads up situation. It almost goes to plan. The good player does fold… after the active player calls with $200 in green chips that he had hiding behind his stacks of red! So now I’m playing against a $400 effective stack instead of a $200 effective stack! Turn pairs the 5 and gives me a flush draw, so I put him all in and he calls me with… JJT7! The exact same hand! Minus a flush draw. I miss my freeroll and we chop the pot up. I had told this player last week that he needed to keep his big chips visible at all times so I now take this opportunity to give him a friendly remind of why he’s supposed to do that.

I call $15 on the button with JTT8 double suited and it checks to me on the JT6 all club flop. I don’t have clubs, but I do have a set and I like the fact that everyone checked to me. I bet $50 so I’m guessing there were four or five of us that saw the flop. I get called in two spots. One of the players is a bad LHE player that I’ve never seen play PLO and the other guy is a PLO reg that I don’t expect to have a big hand here. The turn is an 8 and now the second player leads out for $50. I thought they both might have weak flushes on the flop and now that one of them has checked twice and the other is making a very weak bet, I decide to put the pressure on with a raise to $250. It feels like a stroke of genius until the first player goes all in for $519 and now I’m sitting there wondering how I can possibly be so bad at this game. The second player folds and it’s back on me. I ended up trying to do some math while at the table, but I have to admit it’s not a strong suit of mine. I ended up calling it off, but I’m almost sure this is a fold. I’m blocking my outs pretty hard, having both a ten and an 8 in my hand. I’ll do the math now though. I will assume there was $75 in the pot preflop, $150 more on the flop, $300 plus $519 on the turn for $1044 total and it costs me $269 more to call. I’m getting roughly 3.88 to 1 to call and I have 8 total outs (the third player in this pot actually folded 66, so I’m in much worse shape than I think). I need 5 to 1 to call, so I’m coming up short. He always has the nut flush here and I’m not getting the right price. If all my outs were clean, calling is close enough to correct that it would be fine to continue, although finding myself in this predicament at all seems like pretty poor hand planning. I called it off and whiffed. I think my line of thinking on the turn is reasonable, but I had played less than an orbit with this guy and I really have no clue what his tendencies are. You just don’t see someone flop the nut flush in a multiway pot and check it twice very often in PLO. Oh well. Lesson learned.

Another disaster hand: I didn’t write details for this hand, but I can paint a picture. I have KQJ9 with a suited king and I believe I 3-bet this hand preflop. The flop was 953 with two spades, giving me top pair with three overcard kickers and a king high flush draw, and I made a bet of probably 60-75% pot and only the player on my right called. The turn was an offsuit 6 and I decided to bet again and he check-raised me $300 more. I called it off and we both checked when the 3 paired on the river. He shows A42x with no spades.

I’m running pretty pure at this point and find myself in the game for $2000 and I have $150 of it left in front of me. I did buy another $1000 in black chips, but they are still in my pocket, but I haven’t put any of them on the table yet because I’m unsure if I’m really willing to lose $3000.

I end up finding a spot to 3-bet with AKT7 from the small blind and commit myself before the flop in a 3-handed pot. I bet the rest of it in the dark and manage to go runner runner flush with the T7 in my hand to triple up.

I eventually build that $150 stack up to $1450, without reloading, before my next catastrophe.

I have AA54 with a suited ace and I decide to limp in UTG. A 3-bet in this game is super rare, so if I make it $15 UTG what will usually happen is I’ll be playing out of position in a 5- or 6-way pot. So by limping this hand (and I have a limping range in this game), I might have an opportunity to make a big 3-bet if someone else raises. The next player to act makes it $20 and he picks up two callers. I can only make it $100 and I feel like all three players are going to call and my hand will be kind of face up, so I just call. The flop is K32 with one spade. The PFR has never played PLO before, so I expect him to c-bet his entire range here – he does. The other two players fold and I am very happy to play for stacks (~$400 effective at hand start), so I pot it and we end up getting it in. Unfortunately he has KK in his hand and I whiff everything even though I turn a spade draw as well.

This was the last hand of the night. I’ve built back up at this point and I open with KK66 double suited. I get some callers and the big blind makes it $70. I call and so do the others. The flop comes down T82 with two spades and one club and it checks around. The turn pairs the deuce and gives me a flush draw and it checks to me. I bet about 70% pot and it folds back to the big blind. After 3-betting pre and checking twice postflop, he now decides to pot. He had around $600 to start the hand and his line doesn’t really make any sense, so I don’t see any way I can consider folding here. After his pot-sized raise, there’s not enough left behind for decision-making, so I put him all in. He calls and the river doesn’t change the board texture. He tables AsJs9X and my KK is good. So he flopped the nut flush draw and an open-ended straight draw in a bloated pot and decided to check on the flop… and it cost him the pot. And his stack. I would have folded to any reasonable bet on the flop.

Thanks to that last hand I managed to finish the night -$111 after being stuck $1850 at one point. Felt like a huge win for me. I realize some of these hands are pretty unconventional, but I’m constantly playing this game with inexperienced players with questionable card sense. I would play much tighter and take different lines against a lineup of competent players, but the money just splashes around so fast in this game, I feel like I have to try to get it while it’s there. It’s pretty rare for the PLO game to last more than four hours and it’s not uncommon for someone to double up and leave after playing for less than an hour. I can’t really say that I know what I’m doing but I think I make good adjustments in this game texture and my results in it have been tremendous.

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