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Experiment: Starting with $2500

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Experiment: Starting with $2500

Hey guys,

You've now had 10 months to grind 25 PLO since the previous experiment thread, so let's do 50 PLO. It's not so much an experiment anymore, neither is it a challenge, it's just a fun thing to do. Starting with $2500 exactly isn't necessary, but it's a nice number to aim for if you want to play 50 PLO regularly. You can of course take shots with less.

In December and January I've taken short breaks here and there (from the course work) and played some 50 PLO Zoom. During that time I played 26,276 hands and won $1160. That translates to a win rate of around 9 bb/100. I've calculated a 70% confidence interval to [0,18] bb/100, which tells us that there's a good chance that a a winning strategy was played over this hand sample. I also paid $1779 in rake, so before rake the win rate is around 22 bb/100. FWIW, I also ran just about even with respect to all-in adjusted EV.

Here are some of my findings:

The games are hyper-aggressive

I've seen an almost shocking amount of terrible play. People are 3-betting and squeezing hands that shouldn't even have put chips in at all. Flops get called by naked gutters, or bottom pair and undercards. C-bets happen way too often, and few seem to slow down just because someone called and the most obvious draw hit. Most players auto pot it when checked to. 3-bet pots will often go 3- or 4-way and many will pot lead any marginal hit. Some say that the Zoom games are very tight and passive, but I see very little evidence of that. More than half the player pool appears to be borderline maniacs, and even the (presumed) more sensible regulars are making completely crazy plays.

This is fine though. When play is this bad the opportunities to win chips are great! You just can't go in expecting the games to be tight and passive, because you'll get massively run over in no time. And you need to arm yourself with a healthy bankroll. Variance is going to be quite high.

It's possible that you end up with tight and passive stats if you just run averages across the whole player pool, but I don't think that represents actual play very well at all.

Rake is your toughest opponent

The rake is 5% up to a cap of $2. That's 4 bb. Compared to the rake cap at 10 PLO which is 15 bb, this seems much lower. However, it's still almost 8 times higher than at 500 PLO. But the magnitude of it really shows when you look at how you've paid over a hand sample. In the hand sample here, I paid a 60% rake tax. That should make you all stop and think. Seeing flops is expensive. You really have to adjust for this in your strategy, otherwise that will be your biggest mistake. Players are bending over backwards in all kinds of situations just to see flops. You can't really get away with playing weak hands. Once you get to the flop, you have to win quite often. I won't go over all the strategy adjustments here, but if you aren't already asking the video coaches for rake adjusted strategies, then you most certainly should.

Solid play is likely to be the best base strategy

Given the findings above, the hands you play will need to stand up to a lot of aggression. You will end up having to show down your hand quite frequently, and given the rake you also have to win those showdowns quite often. You can still fold out hands a fair bit, but should probably expect to have a negative red line. I've played pretty snug pre-flop, quite aggressively post-flop, and I still have a slightly declining red line. That's fine though, because the showdown winnings more than make up for it. It's a tough balance to strike though. For beginner players I would very much recommend playing solid hands and relying primarily on showdown winnings. We talk some about hand selection, range construction and strategies in the PLO Fundamentals series of courses.

Nobody will notice if you exploit

It's amazing to me that even micros players talk GTO and blockers now. That's all fine, except it's not going to help you to the highest win rates in these games. If you don't know very precisely what you're doing, those concepts are actually more likely to lead you wrong. During this period, I've taken crazy exploitative lines over and over, and nobody seems to notice much. If you can get away with exploitative play, then I absolutely think you should. In fact, unless you run crazy good, I don't know that you'll end up winning much unless you go for max exploit at all times. And I've been amazed at what exploits I've been able to get away with here.

Previous threads:

Experiment: Starting with $100 (2013)
Experiment: Starting with $1000 (2016)

In summary, play is really bad in these games for the most part. It might actually be worse than a few years ago. The level seems to be roughly the same compared to micros games. It doesn't take a very sophisticated strategy at all to win, but it does require a very high level of discipline in execution. You can't really afford to make many mistakes at all. You have to be very resilient, and not let it get to you if you lose 5 or even 10 all-ins against worse hands. The rake and variance act as a sort of a trap, which keeps players playing at low stakes. It's easy to underestimate how much you need to crush the games in order to win much of anything at all. Or you can get lucky. That's also a successful strategy, just a less predictable one.

For those of you who play in these games, what do you mostly find challenging? Maybe the combined wisdom of RIO posters can help clearing some of that up. This thread is a good place to discuss how the games play, and how you think you should be setting up your strategies.

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