Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Get by With a Little Help from my Friends

YTD: +$52271.43

Apologies for faithful readers for a slightly longer than usual pause between posts - unfortunately my pc is somewhat on the blink again.

I wanted to get back to another topic raised by David Young in a comment a week or so back. The problem, if you can call it that, is an influx of new, WPT and ESPN driven players, cluelessly diving into a pot limit holdem game. In the classic way of lemmings searching for a suitable cliff, PLHE is the worst game they could have stumbled onto, bar plo8b. Their chances of even short term success, never mind long term, are very, very low. Especially playing Gus-stylee tourney moves.

But why is this bad and why should players care?

Players who make any substantial amount of money in live action should look at themselves as being in the entertainment business. Live players, especially in the UK, are a valuable commodity. They do not exist in US or Internet type numbers. Many players may be 'happy' to pay to be 'entertained' over a long period, but will struggle to maintain an interest facing unrelenting losses. A player after throwing off a couple of thousand $ in short order may never return, yet if he had felt that he had a remote chance and was getting some kind of value for money he may have gladly paid for many years to come.

So what is the solution?

Firstly, the newbie players should be treated well. As Tommy Angelo says, this is how you should treat everyone over the felt, not just the fish. Unfortunately for DY, the Vic, the place in question, is fairly well known for having an unfriendly ambiance. And that's putting it mildly.

Okay, anything else? Dealers choice games. Although they can confuse beginners the inherent luck in them shoots up variance and gives weaker players a shot at the loot. Here though the new players are their own worst enemies, as they tend to see these more varied games as some kind of conspiracy to befuddle the money out of their pockets.

The only answer is one that US casinos have adopted but the half-wits that populate card room management in the UK are unlikely to adopt unless coerced by the players. Who unfortunately themselves don't see the wood for the trees. NL games instead of PL. And crucially, critically, maximum buyins of about 100x the big blind. These factors will give conditions more akin to the tourneys these types know and love, shoot up the luck to give them a chance to get some winning sessions, but still leave skill as the dominant factor.

Everyone's a winner.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The Crade of True Art and True Science

YTD: +$52786.73

I did promise a hand about AA some time ago. Well here it is. The last time we looked at AA is was where a player seemingly overdefended his hand and made a weak call. Although the outcome in this hand is the same - I call - hopefully you will agree that the reasoning and situation is much more sound.

PokerStars Pot-Limit Omaha High, $10 BB (9 handed) converter

saw flop|saw showdown

CO ($632.50)
Button ($261)
SB ($1070)
Hero ($2489.75)
UTG ($390)
UTG+1 ($205)
MP1 ($1083)
MP2 ($57.25)
MP3 ($1516.50)

Preflop: Hero is BB with Th, Ah, Ac, 7s.
1 fold, UTG+1 calls $10, 3 folds, CO calls $10, 1 fold, SB raises to $50, Hero raises to $140, UTG+1 folds, CO folds, SB calls $90.

I'm not a big fan of raising with any hand out of position. But there are some big advantages to be had here. SB is a tight, solid player and is actually likely to be raising with one of the hands I can dominate, e.g. a high pair-ish hand. Also a reraise is likely to push out the limpers and actually give me position on the whole coup.

Flop: ($300) Ts, 2c, 4d (2 players)

SB checks, Hero bets $230, SB raises to $930, Hero calls $700.

When I completely miss a flop I do not always auto bet it, simply because it gives good players the opportunity to check raise me thin out of the hand, figuring that my reraise must mean aces. As faithful readers will have noticed, this is not always the case, but it will still be their most likely view of my holding. In this case I felt that the flop was fairly safe for a bet and SB thought for some time before check raising me.

Now sometimes the pause check raise is a sure fire tell of "let me think while I raise with the nuts". But in this case it is very difficult for my foe, if I have read him right, to have trips. It is very unlikely, if next to impossible for him to have a draw, or even two pair. And the ten in my hand nicely makes the top trip scenario unlikely too. As a contributing factor, just a few hands before I had wiped him out, raising with suited aces, hitting the nut flush on the flop and he had check raised me with the K high flush. So he was potentially in the mood for revenge and he was good enough to be making a move.

So after some thought I decided that either he had me strangled or I had him strangled, on which basis it must be a fairly straightforward call for better than 2 to 1 money.

Turn: ($2160) 3d (2 players)

River: ($2160) 3h (2 players)

Final Pot: $2160
Main Pot: $2160, between SB and Hero.
SB has Kc Tc Ad Kd (two pair, kings and threes).
Hero has Th Ah Ac 7s (two pair, aces and threes).

Outcome: Hero wins $2160.

Afterwards I did some more of my infamous EV analysis, which I may write up later - I just can't get the damn tables in. It showed that the breakeven point, where calling was neutral, was with SB having trips a massive 65% of the time, assuming my "he has few outs or I have few outs" analysis was correct. Clearly, based on my read of the player, this was a hugely profitable call.

Science and Art in the same bed again! Who would have thought it?

Monday, September 20, 2004

The Music of Chance

YTD: +$55394.38

David Young made some interesting points in response to my gripe about tournament play. So much so that I think I will break them into two separate posts. Here’s what he said in response to my complaining about the luck factor:

“It will even out if you play more tournaments. Make that a LOT more tournaments. Accept that or don't play.”

I think that this is a common fallacy. The difference between luck, or variance if you want to be more high-falutin, in tournaments and cash is that if you keep your stack at consistent levels, online buy-in maximums to one side, in a cash game, then when and how you have good and bad luck makes little difference. However, in a tournament, exactly when and how your bad luck strikes could be the difference between being a major success or going broke. Perhaps a slightly hypothetical example will make this clearer.

Imagine, in an alternate universe we have the power to see the destiny of a tournament player over the next two years. We know that despite excellent play, discipline and some recent success that Mr X will lose $1million in entry fees and expenses over the next two years. I don’t think that this is particularly an extreme example – see Sklansky for his look at tournament variance and the potential for “bad runs”. Certainly, Mr X, playing the circuit across the globe could easily rack up such expenses. Unfortunately for Mr X, his tank is exactly $0.9 million and this bad run will render him broke.

But Twilight Zone style we can stand with him at the cross roads of a major drama that may give him a chance to avoid his fate.

Mr X is down to the last few tables of the World Series, just before the albatross of long term doom is about to descend on him. Mr X is at the peak of his game. He has all his chips in the middle on the right side of a 6:4 shot. If he loses, he pockets $100,000, and like a Flying Dutchman, sails off to his doom and poker ignominy. If he wins, he will go on to get into the major money and pocket $2.5 million. The bad run will still come, but he will survive and go on to potential greater success. Unfortunately our glimpse into the Book of Destiny only extends for two years so we don’t know what the long term, whatever that means for a tournament player, actually holds. But at least now he has a shot. (I know that this is very much a similar situation to Harry D found himself and I am only using it because it struck me how it highlighted the importance of “particular” luck. All other resemblances to people and events living and dead, past or future, is purely coincidental.)

The whole of Mr X’s poker existence rests on a crooked coin flip.

Now I know I have grossly simplified rather complex issues around money management to make my point, but I think the point is still well made. In tournaments, the luck may never break even because some events are hugely distorted in value and these almost-never –to-be-repeated events just do not exist in cash games, assuming you are playing within a sensible bankroll.

Success or failure is just a coin flip away.

Apocalypse Now

YTD: +$55394.38

I said that I wouldn't waste column space commenting on the vagaries of my YTD. But yesterday was such a "correction" that it seemed that if I didn't mention it, people would wonder how the hell I couldn't. For half the loss I played bad, for the other half, I was unlucky. Interesting, if my 50/50s and favourite hands had all stood up, as opposed to all being washed to sea, my 8k loss would have been a 4k profit. Such is the variance of PLO. Ho hum. I will probably have a breather from the big game and also spend some of my winnings on financing some much needed cars. Coming very soon will be some posts on the interesting points DY raised in his comment to one of my posts.

Saturday, September 18, 2004


YTD: +$62945.48

It seems that more people read my blog during the week than at the weekend, so I will just leave a "stopping by" post before the bigger splurge of the AA in PLO analysis :-)

God I hate tournaments. I played a couple of single table sats for the 215 NL event on Sunday. Yes, sadly, I will only play the big Stars tourney if I win my way in.

I had one player all-in six times before the flop. He was a real ESPN player, moving allin on a huge variety of hands, often grossly overbetting the pot. Six times I could have bust him. And he won every one. Which was a 153 to 1 shot. 153 to 1 to survive the tourney and yet he did so. When I started moaning and whining - why do I do that? - he said "Well, thats poker". This beggars two questions:

1) Why do I whinge and cry like a baby online, behaviour which I would never do or condone in the real world? This seriously disappoints me. I don't do it often, but tourneys especially bring out the worst in me. Maybe its the arrogance of being knocked out by players I perceive, rightly or wrongly, to be "worse" than me. Also I think its the frustration of tournament-style poker, where when it's over, it's over. No more chances. I'm turning into a nit.

2) "Well, that's poker." There is probably now a huge number, if not the majority of tournament players, that think NLHE is about moving all-in preflop on semi-garbage. And that's the whole of the game now.

I'll stick to cash.

*Breaking News* just watching the US Poker Championship of 2003...ye Gods, how much worse can Phil Hellmuth play!

Monday, September 13, 2004

Dumb and Dumber

YTD: +$61322.68

I've noticed a strange phenomenon on the Stars 5-10 game. This is that players who are otherwise moderate to tight preflop, simply cannot play from the flop onwards.

This is doubly strange as in a game like limit holdem, preflop looseness can and should be a huge predictor of playing ability and player profitability. Here in the mysterious world of PLO, we can have a player who is playing 50% of his hands preflop, but is a fine player and making profit, yet on the other hand have a guy playing less than 30% of his hands, leaking money like a sieve and playing quite poorly.

Here's some examples:

PokerStars Pot-Limit Omaha High, $10 BB (8 handed)

saw flop|saw showdown

SB ($1928.50)

BB ($878)

UTG ($1221)

UTG+1 (Unlucky) ($852)

MP1 ($458.50)

MP2 (Foolish) ($1696)

CO ($955.50)

Button ($1126)


1 fold, UTG+1 (Unlucky) calls $10, MP1 calls $10, MP2 (Foolish) raises to $55, 1 fold, Button calls $55, 2 folds, UTG+1 (Unlucky) calls $45, MP1 calls $45.

Flop: ($235) Kc, 8s, 5s (4 players)

Unlucky checks, MP1 checks, Foolish bets $232, Button folds, Unlucky raises to $797, MP1 folds, Foolish calls $565.

Turn: ($1829) 5d (2 players)

River: ($1829) 6h (2 players)

Final Pot: $1829

Main Pot: $1829, between Unlucky and Foolish. > Pot won by Foolish ($1829).
Foolish has Ad Ac Kd Tc
Unlucky has Jc As Js 8d

Outcome: Foolish wins $1829.

Now no matter how you cut it up and slice it, this was a bad flop call. Sure people make plays on you in this game, but at very best it was EV neutral and at worse a losing call in the long run. This player has a serious AA problem.

This one was even worse:

PokerStars Pot-Limit Omaha High, $10 BB (6 handed)

MP ($971.30)
CO ($683.25)
Button ($2905.50)
Hero ($1303)
BB ($200)
UTG ($608.75)

Preflop: Hero is SB with Ad, 2s, 2d, 3c.

1 fold, MP calls $10, CO raises to $30, 1 fold, Hero calls $25, BB calls $20, MP folds.

Flop: ($100) 4c, 9h, 2c (3 players)

Hero checks, BB checks, CO bets $50, Hero raises to $230, BB calls $170 (All-In), CO calls $180.

Turn: ($730) 7c (3 players, 1 all-in)

Hero bets $570
, CO calls $423.25 (All-In).

River: ($1723.25) 6d (3 players, 2 all-in)

Final Pot: $1723.25

Main Pot: $610, between CO, Hero and BB.

Pot 2: $966.50, between CO and Hero.
Pot won by CO ($966.50)
CO has Js Jc Ts Kc

BB has Qc Ac Jh 6s (flush, ace high).

Outcome: CO wins $966.50. BB wins $610. Hero wins $146.75.

The CO thought a hell of a long time before making that call. This let me know that he didn't have that great a hand. It also let him know that I was going to bet the turn regardless, which to some extent the stack sizes predicated anyway.

He's made a "damned if he does, damned if he doesn't" call here. Either I've got trips, in which case he is not getting the right price for his hand, especially as the other player has cold called...meaning surely some of his outs are OUT. Or, because I am that kind of player, I have the nut flush draw, in which case he is gambling his whole stack on JJ being good.

In the short term these kinds of players may do well, as they catch what they probably see as bluffs with their isolated one pair kind of hands. But these bluffs are often high % draws or even the nuts and over time this "I raised before the flop so I'm committed" will only commit them ultimately to the rail.

Sport of Kings

YTD: +$63485.73

Whenever I hear Poker described as a sport I laugh. Or cry. It is beyond ridiculous to the absurd. Here are my views on how Poker is like a Sport:

You Can Behave Like a Cock

The ESPN coverage has highlighted some truly terrible behaviour. It used to be that there was a tightening of the lips, a grimace and a firm handshake. Now we can watch the likes of Mattias Andersson contort and roll around like an epileptic contortionist crossed with a hillbilly/porcine coupling, whilst the impassive Saint of Cowboy Murderers, Chris Ferguson, shows not a trace of emotion in the foreground. And many, many more.

You Get an Audience

People watch you. Millions of people watch you. However the same is true in the US for such luminaries as “dog jumping” and “crazy golf”. We must be so proud.

You Can Take Drugs

There have been recent exposes on performance enhancing drugs in the US especially. There are plenty of drugs in Poker, also of the performance enhancing kind. Or at least the players “think” that a quick toot of Nicaraguan Marching Powder in the dinner break improves performance.

And that’s it, really.

On why Poker isn’t like a Sport:

The Luck Factor Does Not Dominate the Skill

Imagine a Wimbledon where everyone in the quarter finals of the Men’s event is not only unranked, but a club player. Then imagine that in the final a guy from the crowd barges his way onto the court and wins the title. Then watch the Reno event for Season 2. Dreams do come true.

Experience is Not Easily Overcome

Any master sportsman not only has genetics as an advantage over his amateur counterparts, but literally a lifetime of preparation, grueling training and countless experience. Even if you are literally a sporting genius this cannot be easily overcome. Unless you take up the “sport” of poker, in which case a few books, a bit of thought, maybe 6 months of play then you’re in with a chance.

The Players Benefit from the Media

Beside the ability to play $5K to $10K tournaments every month I struggle to see what the poker pros have gained from their Sportification. Besides exposing their game plans. Proper sponsorship and added prize money simply haven’t materialized. And this is three years later. It’s even debatable how much value has been added through extra players, as they seem mostly to want to play games that in the long term will destroy their own, probably far-to-small bankrolls, i.e. tournaments and NL cash.

The Sport and TV Negotiate

“We’ve decided that Soccer is a bit boring, so we’re going to get rid of goal keepers. Any problems?”

Poker’s negotiating position to TV seems trousers around the feet, ankle’s firmly gripped. Shorter rounds. No logos. Rights waiving. Speed poker???

I will leave the last word to an auld favourite of RGP, Steve Badger. Steve was the first person to give me a public slap on a forum for talking garbage and although abrasive, is rarely wrong on matters Poker related:

“ESPN is marketing to their own target market, definitely not the "casual fan". The target demographic is 18-34 year old males, and to be blunt, specifically the dork/loser element of that demographic -- people who go into a frenzy over the result of a game that they themselves don't participate in, and even call talk radio to yell at other people about such
games…They can't relate (much) to Doyle or Howard. They can relate to someone about their age making idiotic trash talk, just like they do.

It is basic sports TV marketing, and is partly why ESPN loves poker. Poker *has* people very similar to their prime market. Major sport personalities are not nearly as relate-able to. The viewers can't say "I could do that" when watching Barry Bonds, but they could look at any of this crew and think "that could be me"."

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Do As I Say Not Do As I Do

YTD: +$57930.03

Whilst I was criticising Rolf S going all-in with KK before the flop in PLO, I was very aware that I had made a very similar play myself. However in this case, the play was very clear and I was also aware that this was going to be a play with a lot of luck involved in its outcome:

PokerStars Pot-Limit Omaha High, $10 BB (8 handed)

Button ($845)
SB ($388)
BB ($1678)
UTG ($661.75)
UTG+1 ($803)
MP1 ($541)
Hero ($2488)
CO ($1094)

Preflop: Hero is MP2 with Ks, 8s, Kh, Ac.

3 folds, Hero raises to $30, CO calls $30, Button calls $30, SB raises to $160, 1 fold, Hero raises to $550, CO calls $520, Button folds, SB calls $228 (All-In).

Preflop the action is straightforward. The SB had started reraising me with less than AA type values as he had noticed that my initial raising standards were lowish, at least in position. The extra A in my hand also gives me a touch more security that he doesn't have the AA. On this basis, my equity in the hand will be significantly improved if I can get CO to pass, as I may then win the pot unimproved. As he has shown no strength whatsoever, this further makes a reraise the better play.

Flop: ($1528) 6d, 2s, 9d (3 players, 1 all-in)

When CO called the big raise cold I basically put him on one of two hands. Either two pairs, or a 4 card straightening hand. Basically my strategy was that unless the flop comes three cards in sequence, I will bet the remainder.

The flop itself is fairly disasterous. As a 9876 kind of hand was a very likely holding, this flop may have hit him pretty hard. But if I check-called, I would be getting 4 to 1 on his bet, and even if he has the armageddon which is 9876 with diamonds, I'm only a 5.5 to 1 dog. Against "just" two pair and a str8 draw, i would be getting the right price to call. So perhaps betting is better? Betting may make him pass hands that he should probably call, especially as he may be worried about the flush draw. Also if he has the two pair hand, I may be a very big favourite and I wouldn't want to give him a free card to hit on the turn.

Hero bets $1525
, CO calls $544 (All-In).

Turn: ($3597) 5h (3 players, 2 all-in)

River: ($3597) Ah (3 players, 2 all-in)

Final Pot: $3597
Results below:

SB has Qc Ts Kd As (one pair, aces).

Hero has Ks 8s Kh Ac (one pair, aces).

CO has 9c Th Jc Qd (one pair, nines).

Outcome: Hero wins $2995. SB wins $602.

Not only was a very lucky to win this hand the strange thing is that no one played their hand wrong. The SB with a small stack is entitled to make a move against a loose player and the CO, suspecting that we both have AA is getting great value.

Often it can be the case in PLO that all the participants play correctly and the Gods of Poker reward and punish as they see fit. This hand they were kind.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Down at the End of Lonely Street

YTD: +$57896.08

"I had trips and he hit quads on the river, XXXPoker.com must be fixed!"

This is a common cry and one that shows how little the vast bulk of poker players actually know about the mathematical underpinnings of the game they play. Longshots are common. Miracles seem to happen everyday. In PLO, longshots very rarely are very long, as the 6 card combinations make nearly anything seem possible. But what about $1600 lost in a 515 to 1 shot?

I think that qualifies as a longshot.

This was actually a parlay. In about the space of an hour I lost to runner runner straights when holding trips, or in one case the nut flush to runner runner full. The latter one was almost amusing, as I flopped the nut straight and the nut flush draw and wondered to myself, "How am I gonna get paid on this one?". I bet it, hit the flush on the turn and bet it again. My opponent had called on the flop with top pair, Q kicker and no draw.

Losing all three pots was a parlay of 515 to 1.

I didn't smash up the computer.

I didn't shake my fist at the "cashout curse".

I did moan and whine a bit.

But I basically accepted that as a loose player my perceived action will make these hands happen more often and I should welcome it. Because calling for runner runner is one of the worst spots a PLO player can themselves into.

Then I knuckled down and still ground out a winning session.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Words are Like Leaves

YTD: +$61390.88

I don’t read a lot about poker any more, nor post on many forums. I’ve already commented on the dire state of posting on the popular forums. I recently did a trawl of poker writing to see how that was getting on. Ughh. I was right to stay away. I was astounded by how much of it was simply bad. Bad as in wrong. Or dumb. Or both. Here are some examples, and not just the soft targets like “The UK’s answer to Mike Caro”.

Anything by Phil Hellmuth

OK..I lied…one soft target then. The man is self-delusional to the point of insanity. As a case in point, read his view of the WPT event with Hoyt Corkins. Then watch it. Then marvel at how on earth Phil got from one to the other, except as justification for being comprehensively outplayed.

Harry Demetriou at Poker in Europe

Poker Europa has long been the Cardplayer of Europe. And that is not a compliment. Although Harry generated mixed views after his appearance on THM, with his knowing everyone style, I always quite liked him, as much as you can from glowing letters on a screen. Then this article :-( Here are some quotes:

“A good player in a cash game should also be a good player in tournament play as the basics for play itself in both are the same”

This made me grimace, but it may have just been an over-simplification. As a practical matter, the intersection of sets between good cash and good tourney players is tiny. And from a theoretical POV there are even more differences. But I guess the rules are the same.

“…more than fair proportion has little or no experience of tournament play…termed dead money… 40-50%... have next to no chance of …tremendous overlay in terms of positive expectation .”

This is a corollary to the small fields with better players are harder than massive fields with mostly chimps argument. Quality outweighs quantity. Paul Phillips has already shown how simply preposterous this is. But it is.

“There is also the question of value for money as most tournaments typically charge around 6-9% as an entry fee for the privilege of playing whilst cash games can vary tremendously and are seldom less than 10% regardless of whether they are raked or time charge games.”

??? WTF

“Another appealing aspect of tournament play is that it is also possible (at least in many of today's bigger buy in no limit tournaments) to make a big score. On the downside however is that because of the increased volatility you will need a relatively much larger bankroll to play tournaments than cash games.”

Sklansky showed that even in moderate several hundred player fields exceptional tourney players could go many, many years without a profit. Based on the big score criterion then the lottery is a good investment too.

Rolf Slotboom

I always though quite highly of Rolf’s game, from what he has described of it in his articles at least. Then reading his latest article I found:

(On losing several pots) “…it was not just the money: The lucky image that I have had been shattered.”

This brought a grimace but maybe it’s a language thing as English isn’t his native tongue.

“I thought it was best to stick to my short stack, move-in-early strategy that has given me so much success in previous years”

This brought a tightening of the lips and a shake of the head. Was he actually describing PLO?

Finally, he described a hand where he takes KK single suited against 4 other players, all big stacks, all-in before the flop. Now there are some exceptional circumstances when this may happen, but in general its poor play, or at best very, very, very marginal. Obviously he wins, but the story is positioned very much as a triumph of his skill and ability, without really stressing how exceptionally lucky he had been.

Another one out of the favourites then.

Dan Negreanu on RGP

I popped into rgp to see if things had improved. Heh. What was apparent though was that DN has not learned the lesson of that fine poker player though he may be, whenever he puts his “thoughts” into writing, he’s far from impressive. Here are some words of wisdom:

“ When a great player is playing his best, he may be capable of unheard of laydowns, oron the other side of the coin monster calls or monster bluffs even. Typically average to good players can only marvel at how a guy like John Hennigan plays a particular hand. Often, it's simple "over their head"

and very closely related to:

“You can use a chess analogy: if good chess players didn't understand why Bobby Fisher made a play they may see it as a mistake. Only Fisher knows that it is the best play available. With poker, good players might not understand the reasoning behind a play that a great player makes. Only a player that has a GREAT understanding of the game can deem whether or not another player is skillful.”

Hellmuth hubris?

“He's just got "feel", that one unquantifiable poker skill that "math guys" so desperately want but simply can't learn.”

I haven’t put up the ripostes that DN deservedly received over these gems, you can Google them yourself. However the last one was answered so elegantly it merits repeating:

“You say that like there weren't (at least) two "math guys" at the final table of this years WSOP final. It's a pity that one had to knock out the other.

It's those kind of statements which make it pretty clear that you don't really have much of an understanding of what "math" is.

The difference between "feel" and "math" is the difference between heads and tails. It's the same coin. It's just that the "math" people know that the coin has two sides, whereas the "feel" people think it has only one.'

Friday, September 03, 2004

Back to the Future

YTD: +$55048.73

After my blooper from the last hand and some further thought I decided to revisit the whole scenario of how my foe played the hand, but with a more detailed and analytical approach.

Firstly, with a short stack, his play on the flop is flat out wrong. Here he must either bet out or check raise me as he hopes to be a favourite and should want to get his stack in whilst so, with the added equity of making me pass. A check call is the worst alternative unless he knows for sure that he can contrive the play I am about to analyse, which starts to become a bit of an extensive parlay.

So we’ve got to the turn. What are his alternatives? He can bet out or he can go for a check raise – I’m dismissing a check call here for simplicity’s sake. The bet out is the straightforward play here. Assuming I’m a LAG (loose aggressive good) then betting out will make me pass all my draws, except the 15+ out ones, and of course if he’s already losing, he has to accept that he’s going broke here. It’s hard to get away from a set with a shortish stack in PLO. This wins him the pot but does it maximize his EV? Back to the Theory of Poker thing, it actually forces me to play correctly as in that I will pass if I should pass and call if I should call. It is hard for me to make an error here. But now let us look at the crafty check raise play.

The main risk, and drain of EV, in the check play is that I check back. Not only does he then give me a free card, but he’s also committed himself to calling any bet on the river as his show of weakness is more likely to encourage a bluff (I’m assuming he understands this of course.) But. He then picks up some catch bluffs equity on the river, normally from my low odd misses. And if I hit a high % draw, in a sense he was putting the money in regardless so although it feels dumber putting it in when I’ve hit, it’s not a catastrophe as he would have paid anyway. The only real disasters are he makes less money, because I would have paid but now refuse to bluff; I hit a low % draw which I would have passed.

Calculating all of these permutations is unnecessarily complicated, all we need do initially is look at the foe’s EV for the check raise turn, but understand that it would have to be downgraded for the reasons above.

Unfortunately I can't get my calculations into any kind of presentable format, but with some assumptions on the range of hands I have, mostly skewed to the weaker side, he ends up with a huge $500 EV+ on just over a $500 wager. This is truly massive and could not be turned negative by the risk of checking unless I am a high % checker on the turn, which is unlikely from the play of the hand. I also find it hard to see how simply betting out could better this either.

Interestingly, this expert play does not mean he is an expert. As I commented recently, many expert Omaha plays look identical to chump ones. It’s the thought that counts.