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.