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You Decide #70 Revisited

If you've been playing along, yesterday I posted a hand that didn't sit too well with me. It was a PLO hand in an $11 tournament on PokerStars, and after flopping the nut flush draw as the table chipleader, I pushed all-in against the sole remaining player on the turn, the second chipleader (I had almost 2x as many chips as him), only to discover that he wasn't going anywhere, since he held the nut straight.

I post these You Decide posts because I want feedback. No one is perfect and there are going to be hands when I mess up. This was definitely one of them. At first, after reading the comments, I believed that the opinions were in one of two camps, but after reviewing the comments for a third time, I see that each person, for the most part, had different opinions on where I messed up in the hand.

For the purpose of self-analysis and PLO analysis, let's go over all of the comments. First, a more detailed recap of the hand.

It was in the second level of a multitable PLO tournament (180 or so players, maybe more) and I had already more than doubled-up from my 3,000 starting stack to over 7,500. My nearest competitor at the table was Multi, who had about 4,500. I held Ac Kc 3h 5h. Multi was the first person to call my early position 3x the BB raise (to 90) and three other players came along for the ride.

After the 456 with two club flop, I bet out 450 (pot) and only got one caller, Multi. The turn was a Jd, creating a diamond flush draw as well. My opponent bet out 1,350 (pot). I read him as having a potentially weak, drawing hand. Perhaps the diamond gave him a flush draw to match a two-pair or even gave him two-pair. Whatever the case, since I was the large stack with momentum behind me (remember, I had more than doubled up and we were still in the 2nd level), I thought I could push the second largest stack out of the hand with a push, with the nut flush draw as a backup. Multi called, showed 8872 and took down the pot with his nut straight when the river was a blank.

The first commentor was Jamie from Wall Street Poker. Jamie made four points, all worth discussing. The first is that I overvalued my starting hand. On this one, I cannot wholeheartedly agree, although I can see where he is coming from. I know that online PLO tournaments are very loose, so I liked my starting hand and for a tiny sum (90, less than 2% of my stack) I wanted to cut the field of limpers. I knew it wasn't a monster hand without a good flop, so I really don't think my preflop raise was disastrous. It wasn't a given either. A limp or even a fold there is acceptable, but I do think that the raise is defensible at the very least.

Jamie's second point is that I really don't have an open-ended straight with my dangling 3 off of the 456 flop. I agree, in large part. I have the idiot's end of a low straight draw. At best, I should assume that it might be good for a chop if my 2 comes. If the 7 comes, I would be even less confident. But truthfully, I never really relied on the straight draw. I knew it was out there, but I also knew it was weak at best.

The next one, though, is where I think Jamie hit the nail on the head: I misread Multi. I assumed he probably didn't have a 78 based on the fact that he called me preflop and was fairly passive post-flop on a flush-draw board. In hindsight, I should've realized that I was playing one of the loosest forms of tourney poker, online PLO. Once he called that flop, I should've cooled it off and checked the turn, as recommended by Jamie. After all, he was not giving up his hand, even if he had the idiot's end of the straight, a set, or possibly even two pair.

This leads to his next point: I lost control of the pot size. I don't think that's entirely accurate. I was in control...I just misused the control. I should have checked the flop to keep the pot small. Assuming I checked, either Multi would bet, giving me some info on his strength (at which point, even if I called, I could fold when I miss the turn), or we would've seen a free turn.

Pirate Lawyer, aka Shrike, also commented, and agreed with Jamie's comments. But Shrike also added his opinion that I should have been preserving my stack. While I agree with most of his comment, I disagree with this idea. Some people say it makes no difference if you double up early because there is still a lot of poker to be played. So why isn't the other side of the coin also true? I wasn't at risk of busting; if I lost the maximum (which I did), I'd be back to my starting stack, all within 20 minutes of starting the tourney in the first place. Simply put, I don't think one should play tournament poker to preserve a stack that early on. I think I get more value out of my big stack by playing more hands early and gambling a bit because I can afford to do so. Now, I'll admit, I gambled too much with too little in this hand, which is something Shrike astutely points out. I agree with that principle. I just disagree that one has to preserve a stack so early in a long tournament. What's the point of amassing a decent sized stack early if you are just going to wait to be blinded down or others accumulate chips until you are average again.

Astin and Fuel echoed each other's sentiments that I made the incorrect assumption that my opponent has any clue. They are correct. I assumed from his stack size that he had some knowledge of starting hand requirements and PLO play. So, I never expected the 78 in his hand. This was not his mistake. It was mine. I cannot control my opponents so it does me no good to call him a donkey and blame him for the loss. Instead, I must turn inward and figure out how to avoid these situations. The answer is kinda obvious. I know how these PLO games play, and he could have any four cards. That means that I have to always consider that the nuts are out there. It doesn't mean I have to see monsters under the bed; but I do have to be conscious that I cannot merely eliminate cards because a competent player would have folded them.

Hoyazo made a similar comment for which I generally agree, but I disagree when he says that "even a modicum of experience should teach you that somebody clearly has a straight if they stay in for any meaningful bets on that flop or aftewards." It's merely an overstatement and is likely colored by the hindsight approach to analyzing hands. It's easy to assume he had the nut straight when you see that he did in fact have the nut straight, but at the time, there were a slew of other hands that made sense in that scenario, including the idiot's straight (23, 37), a straight flush draw, a weaker flush draw with a pair or two pair or set, a bare set, etc. Now, all of these hands have something in common: they beat me outright (with the exception of the straight-flush draw). So the rest of Hoy's analysis is correct. I should have realized Multi was not going to fold. I merely disagree that it was obvious that he had exactly 78 in his hand.

PLO is a helluva game. I have to admit that I probably do not know half as much as I think I know about the game. I love it, though, which has to count for something, and comments like the ones left on the last post really go a long way to expanding the way I think about the game.

Thanks for the comments. If anyone has any additional thoughts, feel free to leave them here or at the You Decide #70 post. I read and consider them all.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 12:02 PM,

6 Comments:

At 1:29 PM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Keep in mind that a crucial part of my explanation here is that this was a 5-way pot. In PLO in a five-way pot that hasn't been raised and reraised preflop, you're going to run into precisely 78 there after a flop call far more often than I think you realize. If it was just one player you're up against there, and that guy had raised it up preflop as it is, then the odds of him holding exactly 78 drop dramatically I think. But five ways, really early on in a low limit PLO tournament, online no less? That's exactly 78 or 73 maybe 85, 90% of the time in my experience.

 
At 2:15 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Fair enough, Hoy. I didn't factor in the amount of players. I think your analysis stands anyway, even if you open up his range to include sets, weaker straights and strong hands with flush redraws. I still disagree, though, that if five players enter a pot and three cards in a row flop with two flush cards, and a player calls a pot bet, that player must have the nut straight.

 
At 2:30 PM, Blogger Drizztdj said...

I still disagree, though, that if five players enter a pot and three cards in a row flop with two flush cards, and a player calls a pot bet, that player must have the nut straight.

9 out of 10 times that's exactly what they will have. Do you think everyone in is playing broadway cards only? 5 people in the pot, I'd rather have 6-7-8-9 in my hand than A-K-Q-J since most of those cards are probably out of the deck and won't hit the board.

5 players and there's a mid-straight on the board? Easy turn fold, or call the turn bet (since you can afford it) with every intention on pushing the river should the board pair or hit your flush of course.

Every beginning PLO book out there will tell a person to flat the flop, push on the turn if the board doesn't pair/put a flush out there with a flopped straight.

If your opponent has a clue, fold.

 
At 3:08 PM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

What Drizz said. It's a lot more likely than most people realize given this exact scenario. 9 out of 10 is about right in my experience as well.

 
At 5:21 PM, Blogger BWoP said...

Drizz beat me to the punch about what the general betting line is when you flop a straight.

Another thing that I'm not sure if anyone mentioned was how much of villain's stack was committed when he bet the turn. You said he started with about 4,500. Pre-flop = 90, flop = 450, turn = 1,350. So that's 1,890 of his 4,500 stack (or roughly 40%). Unless he has total air (seems unlikely), he's probably not going anywhere. So you are either getting a fold from a complete bluff or you are getting a call from a hand that probably has you in pretty bad shape by the turn (unless he has something like a crappy non-aces over-pair with none of your club outs - which would put you at about a coin flip).

You can find much better spots.

(I haven't tested the crub theory for omaha . . .)

 
At 5:50 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Ok, ok. I'll just eat some humble pie on this one. I especially like the point about the betting pattern. I can see how a flat call on the flop followed by an open pot sized bet on the turn could scream nut straight. Thanks, guys, for the input and for setting me straight.

 

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