Quest for PLO Glory: February Review

During January I played $0.01-$0.02/$0.02-$0.05 in order to learn the basics and get used to Pot-Limit Omaha. I think that it was very important because making silly mistakes at mid-stakes while I can do those at micro-stakes would be stupid...

I'm not talking about mistakes where my ranges are unbalanced, not taking advantage of leaks in my opponents' strategies or stuff like that... I'm talking about mistakes where being used to hold'em conflicts with the fact that in PLO you always have to use exactly two cards from your hand!

An example would be a KT333 river where my 9978 is actually pretty good in a lot of situations and my KJ98 is probably not worth much because I only have a three of a kind! KJ98 is actually losing to AQ98 that didn't have much more than a gutshot until the river!

Same thing when I have AT23 in AAK44. I'm not chopping the pot with most Aces, in fact I'm actually losing to AJxx and AQxx, etc.

Have you tried PLO and made this kind of mistake? I have, and I did!

After getting a bit more comfortable with four cards in my hands I've decided that it was time to move up on stakes and increase the level of competition. I'm not doing any challenge, so I think that it makes sense to play where I either make the most money or learn at the fastest speed without a significant amount of money, so I chose the former.

I think that Zoom is interesting because you can play a lot of hands really quickly and try out strategies that focus more on balancing your ranges and play against a wide range of players. However, I wanted to focus more on figuring out how to beat other players, and I thought that it would be better to play regular tables since I play more against the same people at those. So I started by playing regular tables up to $1/$2.

It was an interesting experience, and after my poker friends asked how things were going, I asked them how would they approach learning PLO if there were in my shoes. I got an interesting reply from fellow member of PokerStars Team Pro Online Alex Miller:


This made a lot of sense to me, and since I don't have too much pressure to make some money in the first months of the year, why not try an approach that might be better in the long run?

I tried to play Heads-up PLO, and I was hooked!

Somehow it reminded me a bit of the times I used to play a ton of Magic: The Gathering since all the action was 1 vs 1, and that felt comfortable...

Don't take me wrong. I got a ton of uncomfortable spots while I was playing, since I ended up playing a ton of hands and had to make a lot of decisions with pretty weak ranges. It wasn't a frustrating experience though! There was always a ton of action, and I was facing similar spots very often, so very quickly I started studying them and improving!

I would play with pokertracker for statistics, record my session with screencast-o-matic, then run some simulations/calculations with OmahaRanger, and if I wasn't sure about a spot after reviewing it I would ask my friends at the office about it.


Reviewing a recorded session while using OmahaRanger for calculations

Regarding books I've been reading Advance PLO Theory by Tom Chambers. It's a very dense book, with lots of spreadsheets, so it's a bit hard to read. However, if you ignore the dense math/calculations and focus on the conclusions, it can be a very good and helpful read.

I haven't been getting any poker coaching, but I'm having a monthly 1-hour session with Jared Tendler for mental coaching. I think that it's a very good investment for any mid/high stakes player. He has been helping me focus more on the process and value more the process than the end result, and in my opinion that is very important for a professional poker player.

The goal for March is to keep working on my learning process, improve on my heads-up game, and hopefully by the end of March be better than I was at the end of February.

See you at the (Omaha) Tables!

Andre Coimbra is a member of Team PokerStars Pro Online