Five cards good, two cards bad
by Johnny Lodden
I've spent the ten last days abroad playing PLO. It went pretty bad - I lost almost every day and didn't feel that I played that well in the end. Additionally, you can safely say the poker gods were not on my side.
I think the main problem with this trip was that I did not go off the hotel area for the entire duration of it. I got fed up with being dealt bad hands, and felt starved socially for the last days, but since the game was potentially very profitable I couldn't find it in me to go home. In retrospect, I realize that I should have taken a break for a day or two. Only problem with that was that there's not much to do when you get out of bed at 7pm and go to sleep at 11 in the morning.
I also noticed that when it started going bad, I played far too many hands against the main fish at the table. If there's something one should avoid, it's playing five-card Omaha with crap hands. The biggest advantage of playing this game with the big fish, is that there's always a chance with all kinds or shitty hands. The biggest fish take a flop with 90 per cent of all hands - not exactly profitable play.
Those who won the most in this game are often those who play fewest hands. One important tip in this game is never to play low connectors, as you're very rarely drawing to get the nuts. Hands like 3-4-5-6-7, that appear nice, aren't. Even if you flop the nuts with a hand like this, you rarely have redraws, which means half the deck is often against you.
Hands with low pairs are also bad hands, as it quickly gets expensive if you should flop a set. There's a huge difference from four-card to five-card Omaha when it comes to which hands are playable. Hands that I like, are the high connectors. The closer, the better. My favorites are 8-9-10-J-Q to 10-J-Q-K-A.
Another thing people often do, is only bet pot pre-flop with AA. In my opinion, this is the worse play there is. Of course it's different if you manage to get all-in pre flop, although I don't like that much either, but I'm talking about situations where you're in with say 7K with 12K left in the stack against several players. Very often you'll end up all-in on the flop, and be a massive underdog - unless you find one of those case aces. If you have AA double suit or something like that I don't mind the play, but with only AA (or single suit) this is the wrong play in my opinion. My style is to commit as little as possible pre-flop, and play the hands post-flop.
In addition, some players make mistakes trying to get all-in when flopping for instance 4-7-8 with 5-6 in the hole. This isn't always a bad move, but most often it is, since another player may have the same hand while another may sit on 6-9-10 or something like that.
For those who still haven't tried five-card PLO, I urge you to get cracking. It's a very fun game! After playing five-cards playing four-cards almost feels like Hold 'em. You can compare it to playing Chinese poker for a long time, and then converting to open-face Chinese poker (Russian way) - you'll never go back!
I'll suggest five-card PLO to PokerStars, and hope they can arrange it.
Johnny Lodden is a Team PokerStars Pro. You can read his bio here.