Wednesday, July 28, 2004

The Evolutionary Cycle: PLO and PLO8b

YTD: +$25260.00
I read the other day that there is more genetic difference between chimpanzees in a pack than in the entire human race.  So although at a very basic level, we are all the same as human beings, boy, are there some differences at our level of perception.  PLO and PLO8b are very much the same at a mechanical level and to the uninitiated they look, smell and taste alike.  But again at a higher level they are radically different, to such an extent that a mediocre but a little unthinking PLO player could get creamed in a PLO8b game – as I did when I first learned the game in the School of Reading :-)  Perhaps looking at how a PLO game evolves over time, versus a PLO8b game, and importantly how a player becomes successful, will shed some light.


Stage 1: Blast Off

Everyone plays the game like NLHE.  Explosions are everywhere.  Big pots all in before the flop.  A wrap is 8 outs, once the word is discovered.  Bluffing is all but impossible except for rare grizzly (bare) ace moves.  Winning player simply play the nuts.  It’s that easy.  Incredibly some games do not move beyond this stage a la the North of England smaller PLO games.

Stage 2: Raising has been outlawed
All the loose gooses have had their fingers burnt.  Play is ultra cautious with almost no raising preflop, even with Aces (because then everyone KNOWS you have aces!)  A wrap is now 13+ outs and is understood to be ok, but better with a flush draw.  Big pots only happen when a big hand hits a big draw.  Winning players start to loosen up their game, making moves and raising with a range of strong hands and draws.  Very loose, but intelligent gamblers, can blow these rock-fests apart.  Paradoxically, good players start to see that they may have a point.  You can’t beat a rocky game by playing tighter.

Stage 3:  Equilibrium, but at a hell of a cost

Good players have realized that excellent players are putting moves on them and start to lower their standards.  Bottom trips has stopped being a pass to a raise and become a reraise.  Gambling, with skill, has become legal.  Losing players, both tight and loose, will have enough good days that the game becomes sustainable.  Unfortunately the price for a regular game is variance that shoots through the roof.

Now, for PLO8b:

Stage 1: Blast Off

Looks familiar.  Remember the gene thing :-)  PLO8b is just as bonkers in the early stages as PLO, sometimes more so, as players think any low is as good as the nut low.

Stage 2: Mug Murderers Row
The power of A2 is firmly understood.  High hands are in their place.  The penny drops on freerolls.  The game becomes one of waiting for a mug to sit down and then for the sharks to descend in a feeding frenzy.

Stage 3: IGHN

No more fish enter the pool…good players realize that there are better ways to spend their time and the game dissolves.

Because of this, there has never been a sustainable PLO8b game on the Net.

And if you are sitting down in a PL Omaha game of either type, it’s good to understand where it is in its evolution.


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Anonymous said...

Hi Dave

What's been unusual over the past few years is how this pattern is reflected in the online games. Two years or more ago, I used to play on Stars plo 1/2. After six months or so, I got fed up with the variance, and moved on to more lucrative pastures.

A few months ago I went back to the Stars game. None of the regulars from that period remains. I've seen one or two passing through the 2-4 games, but none on a regular basis. What conclusion can be drawn? A game like that, multitabled, should be enough to keep a small time online pro going. Yet there's no sign of them.

The only conclusion I can draw is that Internet PLO games burn out their players. The Ladbrokes £1-2 is another example. I played this a lot, and had a very profitable run. I went abroad for a while. When I came back, just over a year ago, the game had died out. (Although there still seem to be a few 6-max games for the hardened gamblers). I asked one of the players who had dropped down to the £0.5/1 why, and he was perfectly frank - "I've suffered huge losses." He wasn't too bad a player either, IIRC.

Of course, one of the earliest examples of this phenom was Concord Card Casino Online, although that was exacerbated by the very poor software. The games were tremendous, but the losses suffered by the poorer players must have been extraordinary. It burnt very brightly, and very briefly.

I'd imagine a similar outcome can't be discounted for the current explosion in the Stars 5-10 games - where do these players come from, do they know how big their bankroll needs to be? If they are winning players, which I doubt many are. I give it six months before the 5-10 games dry up and revert to a pool of just a few decent players and the odd passing weakie.

Anyway, with the influx of fresh victims, the Stars 1/2 game now seems to be playing far softer than 2 years ago ;-) - so there's still hope.

Rich. P.