Saturday, February 04, 2006

Four Ps

I have surprisingly found myself still enjoying playing short handed NL. Winning helps of course. As I have commented before, when you play NL you really do feel that the "decision", with all its many variables, is king. In PLO, by comparison, it’s often just playing the maths of the situation. This is down to a very simple factor. In most big hands in NL, you are either really right or really wrong. In PLO, by contrast, big pots are often contested with hands that are very close in value and you are normally either side of a 60/40 shot.

One lesson I would like to think I would bring from my NL game to PLO is the importance of position. When you play NL, especially short-handed, the importance of position is magnified. You can feel how much harder it is to play any hand, especially in a raised pot, when you are first to act. PLO players, unfortunately, treat position almost as an irrelevance, and basically play the same hands wherever they are sat. And this gambling hurts. Here's an example:

You're sat in a six handed NL game with a mix of strong and weak players. You limp UTG with A6 suited (which I would never do, btw) and a good player raises behind you 4 times the blinds and everyone passes back to you. You both have 100x blind stacks. This is a clear pass.

Now look at a comparable situation in PLO.

You limp UTG with a nut suited ragged hand and again the same happens. But being a PLO player you call. The flop comes giving you a nut flush draw and a small pair. You check, the good player continuation bets, as he often does headsup, and you check raise.

He sets you allin.


This is a hugely common set of circumstances that you will see at PLO tables from 2-4 and up. Players, often good players, contriving to get themselves into situations where they are putting their whole stack in jeopardy with marginal hands, just because they think position does not apply to them.


chaos said...

My perception of the importance of position has changed through playing internet poker, or equivalently, just playing more. It's unclear to me whether this is down to my changingview of poker, or in poker itself. Possession of the button, for example, seems a much less valued commodity than a couple of years ago. Does the poker world cope better with it now, or have the skewed negative experiences that predominate when we fail from positions of expectation, distorted the picture, and caused me to undervalue it? Or have I just learnt more?


Gergery said...

I don’t play much PLO, but play lots of PLO8 and shorthanded NL ring.
And I think position is king. I will play lots more speculative hands in position and be more aggressive.

I never really took to PLO for precisely the reasons you mentioned – all the effort you go to and you just end up with a slight edge and lots of variance.

I’m surprised you say PLO players treat position as irrelevant since position is supposed to be king there.


Big Dave D said...


I think it matters less in tourneys and limit play, simply because play has so improved/got *much* more aggresive.

In big bet cash it *should* still matter as much, but I think PLO players simply ignore it mostly. You certainly *feel* it more at NL.



Big Dave D said...


I think position is king in all big bet games. It's just that PLO players , by their nature, like to gamble. I think a similar syndrome exists in PLO8b too, just that it is mitigated in that people have realised that limping with your best hands UTG is superior to raising them for *other* reasons, not just hand/position/hard to play ones.



Beset7 said...

Nice post dave. I was having some problems with my short-handed NL game so I decided to, as an experiment more or less, play like 10/5/3 (ueber-tight agrro) game UTG and UTG+1 and then 35/25/4 (ueber-lag ueber-aggro) from CO/Button for a while. It's a trip how good my results have been playing like that. Of course, it's time to integrate my game a bit and look for what +EV situations I'm missing out on playing in this exagerated fashion; but, it's been working very very well.

Your PLO example is a good one. I don't know how many times I played that hand before I started tightening up in EP.

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Phat Mack said...

I never really understood position until I played pot limit, and I came to PL after L and NL.

>> When you play NL, especially short-handed, the importance of position is magnified. You can feel how much harder it is to play any hand, especially in a raised pot, when you are first to act.

I disagree. In NL, especially heads up or short handed, being first to act gives you "right to first bluff", which can be a devastating weapon.

Big Dave D said...


In the games I'm playing, Im getting very little "right of first bluff" moves. Personally I think its more a tourney play than a cash game one, particularly on the flop.



Phat Mack said...


I can't speak to tournament play, but leading off in SH ring-game NL, you should be betting at many flops that looks like: a scare board, it hit you, or it missed your opponent. That's a lot of flops. A good way to get a feel for this, in live games at least, is to only pretend to look at your hole cards.

Of course, this may be total BS depending on opponents, stacks, and table's Shania. (Leaving myself an out. :) )



Big Dave D said...


You have been reading to much 2+2 :)

The problem with the lead bet is SH online cash is that it is hugely dependent on your foe. Personally, if someone leads into me I will raise with nothing, or raise with a monster. And similarly I will just call with each type. Just being called compounds the you now fire the second barrel?

All these problems can be overcome by simply not playing OOP.

I think the natural tendancy of most poker players is to "believe" that they can outplay their opponents. This leads them to make many plays OOP because they feel their skill differential is superior, especially from the blinds and especially if they have come from tourney poker, where blind defence means something.

Another example of the comparative paucity of playing OOP is thinking how hard it is to stack someone when you have a monster, but you have to act first.



Phat Mack said...


>>You have been reading to much 2+2 :)

Uh oh. I'm a contrarian, and if this is what they are posting on 2+2, I'm in trouble. :) I guess I'll have to start reading poker HE posts there again. heh

I'm going to have to defer to you in this matter. I know very little about online play, and have a feeling that I may be blowing smoke here.

>>Another example of the comparative paucity of playing OOP is thinking how hard it is to stack someone when you have a monster, but you have to act first.

This is a problem, and it's a big problem. If you are a big-pot player, it is difficult to build them from up front with out a lot of cooperation from your opponents. On the other hand, if you like to steal a lot of little ones, up front isn't the worst place to be.

But I wonder if short-handed NL is the best game for a big-pot player?

For me, this problem is more magnified in PLO than it is in NLHE. PLO big-pot play from OOP is something I just don't get, unless I flop a monster in the big blind and someone else bets it for me...



Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Good post cuz position is indeed king, but especially in any pot limit game more so than NL. At least in NL you can negate bad position by pushing when first to act.

BTW, I think you need to fess up and admit that you are back on the party 2K PLO crack again :) .


Big Dave D said...


Good points, although it does seem v different online at least at the levels I am playing.

As to the rhetorical question, short handed NL is certainly the best place for *this* big pot player to be at present :)

Big Dave D said...


Thought u would like it. S'funny I have seen very many pushes recently, except from me!

Although I think the full ring game only on Party would suit me fine, im loyal to short handed NL at present.

Maybe you didnt know my sig there after all?