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Goal Tending

I had another hot night yesterday. I'm the type of player who needs some direction. That is why PSO and VPP bonuses attract me so much. I have a goal (reach the bonus), so I play accordingly, choosing games that will get me there the fastest. I suppose it is the same mentality that makes me love videogames (which I've stopped playing about a year ago after, can you believe it, carpal tunnel problems) and school, with the immediate gratification of grades (it helps when you are able to coast along).

After I finished my most recent VPP bonus at Mansion Poker (easy bonus, pain-in-the-ass site) and the 45 SNG Challenge (just out of the money!), I was wandering the poker waters without a tangible goal. I'd play some of the new HORSE on Stars, then some Chinese Poker at, but there would be times when I didn't know what to play. I have money spread on probably at least a half-dozen sites (FullTilt, Party, Stars, Mansion,,, and More!), and I find myself wondering just what I want to play. After a recent event, I have found a new goal. Unfortunatley, it is one that I am loathe to follow.

I received some money from Royal Vegas because of referrals. It is not through an affiliate deal, but rather through people who had signed up for RV (generally through PSO or VPP) and used HighOnPoker as the person who first told them about the site. RV then bestowed upon me $50 per referral, which I had to play through to withdraw. The first two that I received were months (if not a year) ago. I busted quickly because of the mentality that it was free money. When I found out that I got two new bonuses, I went back to my old ways, starting with an impulsive $50 heads-up match that I destroyed. I decided to dedicate my time there to HU SNGs, which I will be getting to later, but once I reached over $100, I tried to withdraw the whole amount. I knew that RV wouldn't let me remove the original $100 they gave me for the recent referrals, but I figured the remainder would go through. To my surprise, I received an email rejecting my entire withdrawal! The reason: I had $200 to play through, not $100. Apparently, RV's memory is long, so they are counting all four of my referrals, even though the first two were long gone (both in time and in $$).

What's a man to do? Earn it, I suppose. So, you'll be seeing me at RV here and there, playing cash games and earning my way to my $200. As soon as I break $200 (we'll get to that later also), I will withdraw the extra off of the top, so that I never lose back withdrawable profit.

With this in mind, I decided to see if RV had any non-Hold'em games going. To my surprise, they had two PLO8 tables going, but they were both 1/2 blinds, higher than I am used to. With nothing to lose (literally), I bought in for $100. I then went on a tear.

Part of the fun with PLO8 is the fact that there is so many ways to win. You can win the high, the low, or scoop. You can play draws hard, or play made hands hard, and both are correct!

For the uninitiated, I'll explain my general strategy. I play any hand that has three cards from the wheel (A2345), because the real goal in PLO8 is to scoop high and low, and the wheel (being the nut low and a straight) is usually the way to do it. I also play any hand that is dominated by paint (AKQJ, and sometimes T). In both instances (wheel- and paint-heavy hands), I want an Ace. If its a royal flush-heavy hand, I want all four cards to be within the royal flush range, or I want an Ace, two other royal straight cards and a low card, so I can potentially scoop. Remember that if the paint-heavy hand hits, there may not be a low, so its a scoopable hand in and of itself. I always avoid the middle cards (7-T or even 6-J), and I loathe playing hands with three of a suit (unless it is a paint- or wheel-heavy hand). I also dislike two pair, because you can only hit so much (a set, and maybe a full house). AA in a hand helps, but its a hand you have to be ready to drop post-flop. KK might as well be crap. So, to review:

A258 rainbow - Playable, because you have a lot of the low covered, along with the three wheel cards. I'd try to limp in. If it's double suited or the Ace is suited (remember, the rank of your flush matters a lot in Omaha), then I might go in for a raise. But in general, you want players in the hand, so your hand pays off if it hits. Also beware A2 lows, since anyone else with an A2 is probably playing, so splitting the low (i.e., only 1/4 of the pot) is often financially irresponsible.

Ax6x8c9c- Fold! Unless you are in a blind, you don't want this hand. Your low will be beaten by a 56 low, so just move on.

KK66- Fold! Okay, I'll allow a limp, but only to see if you make your set on a non-threatening board. But never to a raise. If it's double-suited, then I'd encourage a limp, but still only a limp.

KQJT- Bet out! Get rid of those low draws. If you are suited or double-suited even better. Ideally, you want to hit your straight, but two pair is often okay with a hand like this, too.

AA22- Raise it up! You could potentially scoop with nut highs and lows, or even just hit one, and know you are in good shape.

A234- Wheel-heavy?! Bump it up! Then play your low draw fast and strong if it comes. After all, the rest of the players will be fearing you.

[Note: I realize two things after writing these samples. The first is that most of my samples include an Ace. That is because Aces are very important in PLO8. Some say that if your hand doesn't hold an Ace, you should fold. I won't go that far though, since I'll gladly play KQJT or 2345 or even KKQJ suited. Second, I may play some PLO8 and simul-blog, so I can go over my hand selection, since I am having so much fun analyzing the playability of hands.]

The great thing about the game, at RV at least, is that a lot of players don't give you credit for the nuts. I rivered an inside straight draw (2-6) and made a second nut low in one hand after the rivered 5. I had called middle-sized bets on the flop and turn, but when I hit the river and it checked to me, I potted it, for $105. And he called me! I assumed he had the nut-low, but no dice. Long story short, I ran rampant over the table, and after 20 minutes, turned my $100 into $270!

After that, I decided to see what else RV has to offer. That's when I found Pot Limit Seven Card Stud. It's a helluva game, since Stud is traditionally limit. The huge difference is the ability to protect your hands, as opposed to Stud, generally, when you start with QQX, but never improve, whereas your opponent with 662 calls you down only to river a 2 and take the hand. But don't take any advice from me. After 40 minutes, I lost $65. It was an interesting game, but a bit too much for me.

HU at RV has always been good to me. The blinds go up based on the amount of hands played, so I'm able to manipulate the game more. I decided to try that out as well, and while I was at it, I also started a new spreadsheet. My goal is to play 50 HU matches and determine how profitable I am. Last night I played 3 games for $20+1.50. I won the first two, and had some difficulty in the third. I was down to 35 chips, but was able to get back up to the lead! Unfortunately, a suckout took my stack, and I decided to stop for the night. I think my general rule of thumb will be to play HU until I lose one game, and then stop.

So, my goals are to finish 50 HU matches, and to clear my RV bonus. It's going to be slow goings, but at least I have a goal. Last night, I ended up over $200. It's all I can ask for. I'm not saying I'm on a heater, but I've been playing well and I have been winning cointosses. Wish me luck, because I sense I'll be back at the juicy 1/2 PLO8 soon enough. Until then, make mine poker.

posted by Jordan @ 10:31 AM,


At 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Liked ur words on PLO/8 another type of hand that you didn't mention which I have read about that has a great perspective that is rarely discussed (I can point you to the website if you want the article) is hands such as 2356 and a467. They are the type of hands that traditionaly quarter the competition and while O/8 is a scooping game, consistently taking 3/4 and often 2/3 of a pot is incredible. People are easily locked in with the nut low and will call any bets without a high hand and with a straight in their low can not get away at all consistently quartering your opponents not only gets you their money but also reassures them because they are getting money from the pot. (this is a deep stacked PLO/8 approach and is disastrous in limit...Just thoughts haven't read or responded to ur sight in a while but just checked it out KiT EB

At 8:48 AM, Blogger C.L. Russo said...

Do you have any bankroll goals, or a certain level of SNG or cash game you want to be fully funded for? That might give you a bit more direction.

I've said it plenty of times, but my goal is to get a 'roll for 2/4. The only problem is I'm feeling a bit locked into limit hold'em at the moment. It's the only +EV game for me at the moment, and I don't feel inclined to spend either money or time learning another game.

At 12:17 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

My long term goal is to make as much playing poker as I do as an attorney. Realistically, in the shortterm, I want to clear $1800 profit for the year (I'm on course), and play in a $250+ live tournament. By the end of 2007 (or maybe 2008), I want to play in a $1000+ WSOP or WPT Circuit event. In five years time, I want to play a WSOP event (non-circuit).

But on a daily basis I don't know where to go. I'd like to get my bankroll over 10k eventually, but I'm not at 2k yet (I don't think), because of withdrawals.

Oh, and thanks for the comment, Ebs. You always offer great insight.


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