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.


Mr Mediocre said...

Hey Dave,

Its a pity Unlucky wasn't playing with a bigger stack. He could have made a mega semi-bluff on the turn.

Or was the fact that Unlucky was short stacked and put it allin, the main idea.

If Foolish was a Holdem type player, then maybe he was glad to risk it when Unlucky was short stacked and allin, as he knew he wasn't gonna have to play any more poker, if you know what I mean. Just call with the 'best' hand and hope that it all works out

Am I thinking right yet? :-)

Big Dave D said...

Mr M,

Good 2 c u back. I have often said that I am not a big fan of the EV concept in big bet poker. EXCEPT when there is no more money to bet with cards to go. Then the game is pure maths. When you are facing these kind of decisions, what you are trying to do is (a)evaluate have you got the pot odds to draw, i.e. +EV in a situation where you are fairly sure you need to hit to have the best hand (b) more interestingly, understand what range of hands your opponent has and see if you have a +EV against this range. In (b) you may not be sure whether you or your foe is drawing for example! It's a shame I cant html-ise the tables I do to show these EV calculations. And in the example of the AA, the EV is just not there for the AA call, simply because the drawing potential is so rich.

I will actually be doing a very similar analysis for when I defended with AA so hopefully that will make thinks a little clearer.

Anonymous said...

For some reason I expected to see my own play disguised under pseudonym Foolish. But *phew* this time.

Many players have problems with AA hands in Omaha. I remember well a comment from a live game when my friend described an opponent with these words "He would be a winning player if he would never get AA".


"Mistake No. 8. Raising When You Should Fold. This error is normally made only by expert players..."
-David Slansky .
... and I want to be an expert so bad.

Big Dave D said...

Just so you dont feel so bad about your error/expert play, the other day i put in 1500 bucks with 2 outs. It was not my finest hour :-(

Anonymous said...

I think unlucky made the the mistake i see in alot of PLO players in that they think they can take someone's stack when they outflop their aces but bluff them out of the pot when they don't. You simply can't have it both ways. weak players call to much but and you simply have to outflop because they'll call like Foolish did. I think unlucky played his hand badly

Big Dave D said...

Is that u aces?

Nice to see u whoever u r :)

If unlucky knows that Foolish is a poor player then of course u r right. However he was fairly new to the game. Also in this game a raise preflop by no means indicates aces. "Never bluff a mug" is the English phrase for this situation. But it is still a poor call by Foolish regardless. PLO can be interesting in that bad plays and good plays can seem identical - it is understanding the motives and the complexities of the situation that highlight the difference.



Anonymous said...

Hi Dave

Firstly, I'm a big fan of your blog, I'm learning heaps about PLO.
Keep up the great analysis.

As regards the second hand, I agree with your analysis that the CO should have folded to your flop raise. But was his call as bad as you reckon ? You said that he thought for a long time. So what could he possibly be thinking about ?

He was getting 3/1 on the pot at that stage. He had nine outs for a flush but as you said he must think that either you or the BB has 2 clubs, so we'll say 7 outs. This is what he should think but does he ?
We're not all as smart as you Dave and I'm not being sarcastic. So what else could he be thinking about ?
Well if a non flush Q turned it would give him an additional 10 outs for a straight. If an 8 turned it give him an additional 6 outs for a straight.

So could he have been thinking that 15 card will be good for him on the turn i.e. 9 clubs, 3 Queens and 3 Eights ? If so, then he may have felt that 3/1 was 'reasonable' odds. If a non-club Q or 8 turned, he would then have either 19 or outs on the river, which would give him sufficient odds to call. Also, maybe he may have been hoping that you might give him a free card. We know that you definitely will bet the turn but he may not ?

I'm not saying he went through all this thought process but this is the kind of thing he may have
been thinking about. I play with a lot of players who will call a bet on the flop in the hope that they will pick up a draw on the turn. They will 'justify' it using the type of reasoning above.

I have to reiterate that I agree that he should have folded but was his play as terrible as you make out ?

Rip me apart if you must



Big Dave D said...


Thanks for the kind words. I agree that the thought process you described is probably one a bad player would go through, or paradoxically a very good one if we both had very very big stacks. In our case the problem the player has is that there isnt much money left to be bet after he calls and the way I have played the hand either indicates I have trips or a big draw. He is effectively drawing to his overpair, and he also knows that i will now bet the turn regardless considering there is only 400 or so to be bet. He is not getting implied odds but reverse implied odds. Does he call again if he misses? If it pairs? The draw to a draw odds don't make up for this.

But the main point was that this was a tight player. All his stats pointed to rockiness, yet here he was, committing with at very best a gambling hand. At holdem, you can normally be sure that a sub 20% preflop player will play a very solid game. But it seems in PLO preflop play it is not always a good indicator at all.