Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Right to Retort

YTD: +$40559.14

My Faithful Reader may remember my critical view on a Rolf Slotbloom article that I found on the web. I talk about it at

I guess Rolf heard about this from some of the guys from the Amsterdam game I was losing money to in the Stars PLO love-fest and he recently wrote me a reply. Here it is in full:

"Hi Dave,

A while ago, someone mentioned your blog, and told me that you commented on one my my works. So, as it turns out I am about a month or three late, but anyway, here's my response.

First of all, thanks for calling me "one of the favourites" - I don't get compliments that often. :) Now, as to the KKxx hand in question. The only time I have written about this hand, was not in an article, but in the "What's Happening" section on my site. You are 100% correct that in the situation described here (deep money / multiway pot) going all-in with kings single-suited is a very marginal decision. In fact, if you read some of my older PLO articles I have more than once shown the dangers of moving in with KK. And in this case the situation was even more dangerous: not just was I up against three players, my kings were very crappy, so even if my reads on my three opponents were excellent, then I would still be ahead by just a fairly slight margin. In fact, no player that I know would have made the final (massive) raise with a hand this weak, because they would have reasoned "with so much action, someone must have aces"- they would either have called or folded. So, I was proud that I had the courage to trust my read and be correct, being a clear favorite against the person with the second-largest stack, who had QQ22 double-suited, while if I remember correctly one other player had JJ22 and another QQxx - meaning that for a large side pot I was in fact an (unexpected) large favorite, and for the main pot I was in good shape as well, no one even holding a single ace or king (!). More than all this, if you read my piece, you will notice the word "fortunately" on more than one occasion, because I *had* been very fortunate. But I had also made a daring but correct decision to not just flatcall to see a flop, but to come back over the top of not just one, not two, but THREE raises with nothing more than crappy kings, and I was obviously proud of that decision. Wouldn't you be proud if you trust your read so much, that you know that if your read is right, you will probably be ahead by just a slight margin, but if it's wrong you will be a massive dog - now, if you still trust your read in a difficult situation like this and you turn out to be right, wouldn't *you* be proud?

I will discuss this entire night of poker into depth in one of my upcoming CardPlayer articles, including this final hand. I have sent over the article already and I cannot make any changes now, so I'll just hope that indeed I have acknowledged how lucky I had been! :) Anyway, Dave, just thought I'd send you a reply, also to compliment you on your blog: it is well-written and contains some excellent info. Keep up the good work, man.

Rolf Slotboom"

Firstly, thanks for the response and the kind words. You were/are one of my preferred writers and I am prepared to forgive this one "lapse" :-)

I guess I would like to add two further points. I still don't like him referring to a short stacked approach as a successful style in PLO; I'm not convinced it can be a good approach except in very unusual conditions and moreover it's a style that will limit a player's ability to develop his game longterm.

More importantly I think that in such highly marginal decisions "backing my judgment and I was right" is not enough; those of you who went through my plo8b example earlier in my blog will see why that is flawed thinking. The reason is that for this play to be correct he probably has to be 40-60% certain that the hands he is against are so bad and so counterfeited. Any permutation of either an AA in there or just better hands as a whole, with an A flush in there, make his hand very much weaker. This means that on the balance of probabilities he is at best zero EV or even losing money on the coup, unless he has a very large headsup sidepot involved, which would affect matters somewhat and this was not mentioned in the original article. Sometimes the weight of mathematics outweigh instinct.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I share you opinion of short-stack play in PLO, although I think there are benefits to employing it in some circumstances: perhaps when starting up a game, or when first sitting down at a table of strangers. Over the long run, however, I think it only leads to going all in with hands like KKxx, which has the flavor of desperation.

When I first started playing PLO and NLO, I did a lot of work, and a lot of thinking, on pre-flop all-in moves with sub-AAxx pairs (there are a lot of times when you just know what a couple of oponents have), but, as pointed out, they are marginal at best.

P Mack