Playing a different angle
My PLO results since the middle of last year have been kind of frustrating. They've forced me to think about Omaha and poker in general in ways that I never did before.
I thought back across my poker career. I started off playing limit hold'em. Then I transitioned to no-limit hold'em in 2007 before making the switch to Omaha in 2010. When you focus on playing one game for a while, you kind of forget how to play the other games a little. Players adapt and change all the time. If you go away for three months and then come back, the players play a little bit differently and the ranges are a little different. I'm sure I'd struggle with 6-max NLHE right now even though that was my main game for a number of years.
If I started playing a lot of 6-max NLHE again I'd have to back and re-evaluate how the game is played. When you do that, you have a new tool to use. You have all these different ideas from the other games that you've been playing that you can apply to the old game.
For example, in Omaha, there's emphasis on backdoor draws. They become quite significant. In hold'em we often forget about these draws, but they do add a few percentage points to your equity. When determining when to make a move, noticing a backdoor draw is going to increase your equity by just that much. Maybe it makes the difference in that instance, maybe it doesn't. But if you didn't realize it at all then you'd miss out on it.
I was thinking about this after a recent break from PLO. Historically I've been well-known for being the guy who piles through a downswing, doesn't care, and never takes a break.
My attitude is the bigger the sample size, the quicker I'll get back to my equilibrium point.
This time exceeded my threshold a bit. It wasn't really the dollar amount that was frustrating, it was the way things were happening - losing a lot of flips and 60-40s.
Obviously I was playing badly as well. Downswings are a result of both bad variance and bad play.
It got to the point where I felt like, "Why am I doing this?" PLO's a brutal game. I reminded myself "Hey, why don't you play something that's not so swingy." So I took a fresh look at hold'em. Just working on tightening up my hold'em game for 3 or 4 days got me out of my own mental black hole. It helped me look at Omaha in a more friendly light and convinced me to apply the same tightening strategy to my Omaha game and to get back on the horse. Plus I was able to think about concepts from one game that applied to the other, and vice versa.
It's good to take a step back and re-evaluate your game once in a while. Working on any game is going to help you as a player. It doesn't have to be your primary game. Even something as simple as rock-paper-scissors can spark a thought or an idea that gets you pointed in a winning direction.
Raymond Wu is a member of Team PokerStars Pro