My PLO Progress: Jan 1st 2014 +

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My PLO Progress: Jan 1st 2014 +

Hi all,

I started playing PLO on 1st January 2014 and wanted to write down my progress / thoughts to date.  Might be a long one!

Firstly, here are some graphs:

Overall Stats (Graph)

Overall Stats (Position):

So as you can see, from playing nearly 5 weeks I'm about $275 down and $1800 down on EV over ~34k hands / ~130 hours.  In the last 10k hands my red line has improved pretty significantly which I feel shows that my game is improving.

In preparation for the 'MBN' comments ;) yes it nice to run above EV lol (although EV only shows results and not ranges) and I'm sure we are all aware that the variance is pretty epic.

My energy and focus though is on always improving regardless of the results; we can learn from what has happened in the past - but we cannot change it.

When I started playing PLO I made some goals for myself:

1) To break even for the first month

2) To identify areas weak areas of my game and actively improve

3) To create and put into practise a structured approach towards playing and improving

So far I am very happy with progress:

1) To break even for the first month

In terms of bankroll I started on $4500 and although I am down $275 from playing, my account is actually on $6300 due to all the bonuses and rakeback, etc. and they are ongoing - From my results to date, I calculated playing 4 tables of 6 max at 100nl earns around $13-$14 per hour in "additionals" (or whatever you want to call them); not too shabby!  

There is space for this to grow if I am able to play more hours or move up the stakes in the future, I consider these "additional's" my method for de-risking the variance and at the start to help pay my "tuition fees".

2) To identify areas weak areas of my game and actively improve

I underestimated my shortfalls in PLO, as after playing a decent sample size of hands and writing down areas I felt I need to improve in, I realised that my list of "areas to improve" was very long.  This to me is very exciting and motivating; I know every day I can work on areas of my game that will ultimately increase my ability in the long term and it makes the game so much more interesting and rewarding to play when I can see my game evolving. 

I've spent a lot of time off the tables posting on forums, listening to podcasts, watching training videos, videoing my own sessions, reviewing hands and have paid for some coaching sessions.  I also spend at least 30 minutes before and after each session preparing/reviewing/ etc. - which btw makes an epic amount of difference to your play, and if you don't do this I highly recommend you do so.  

I also keep a spreadsheet that I review before I play and update after I play, in this spreadsheet I write down any comments about how I played that day (good or bad) and keep a list of the areas I wanted to improve in.

If you are interested, it looks like this:

Session Notes (read before playing): 

Doing myself justice!

Areas to Improve: 

Like I said...a pretty long list and it is just in short-note form lol, there is much more to add in the future I am sure. I also want to keep experimenting and pushing myself, something to think about as I develop.

Mental Game

When reviewing this now I instantly recognise some of my weaknesses that are re-occurring...the good news is that I feel very confident that I am able to fix the issues in my mental game with the right approach, the mental game is a lot more complicated than people think. Recognising problem areas is the first step towards resolving issues, then you have to take action on them.

Specific areas to note: Importance of preparation before playing, Taking time to make the right decisions, Always continue to improve, Push myself to play longer sessions

3) To create and put into practise a structured approach towards playing and improving

I feel the above is proof that I am doing well in this area, something I do want to write about though is my discipline and time management (I will below in this post).  

There is a lot of information in HEM2 (eg. using the filters or various reports) that can help me to improve my game, this is an area I feel I will improve with practise, study and experience.   

I feel would really help me is if I was able to find someone else who is also developing their PLO game or an already very experienced player to discuss hands, share thoughts, swap rails, etc. If anyone is a PLO enthuiast who is keen to keep improving their game and willing to work hard, then drop me an email at [email protected] and we can discuss :)



Something that has inspired me a lot over this month is when I see Reg's make mistakes that I used to make...and they keep making them!  This inspires me because I know I am making progress and also potentially making progress faster than my competition (I feel this is very valuable).


I take a notes on players as I play; not with too much detail, more just a quick note to describe a way they played a certain hand and anything that helps me understand the way they think.  

One particular note I feel has been very useful is writing down what value bet sizing each player does with a strong hand (especially on rivers)....firstly if I have this note then it means I have probably lost the hand, as they are value betting (lol), so I might as well get some worth from it and secondly it makes playing opponents and decision making a lot clearer.  

Granted some of the better players will be aware and levelling/balancing themselves against me with their bet sizing, however for now I am just going to accept this until I move up in stakes, as I don't feel like it leaves me that exploitable at 100nl.


Using the statistics in Omaha is pretty complicated as defining ranges for 4 cards is a lot harder than 2, however one stat I feel has been very particular useful (beyond the standard stats) is "vs missed C Bet": how often the villain check-call, check-fold or check-raises.  When playing in position this stat is so useful for figuring out your opponents strategy, hand strength and determining a line/plan for each hand that you are happy with.

For instance if you are playing someone who say opens 40% on the SB, C bet's 50% of the time and check-folds 90% of the time when he doesn't C bet: playing in position (in this scenario the BB) means that statistically you can steal postflop around 90% of 50% of the time (45% of the time) - which equates to less than a pot sized bet on the flop whenever they have checked to you, to instantly show a profit and this is before you even play any cards!  

Granted, the stats don't always tell the full story and don't have exact details (e.g. positions, vs different players, etc.) - but you can only use and make the best out of the information you have available.

Discipline and Time Management

Lets start with the stats, last month I played:

106 Hours, which equates to 3.4 hours a day, or 24 hours a week.  

I spent a lot of time studying as well which I don't record the hours for, but I'm sure with a better approach I could play a lot more hours....I feel it is a realistic goal to play 36 hours a week (an extra 50%), which by itself could add an extra ~$1k a month in additional's alone.

To achieve this I will need to be more disciplined with my approach, organise my life and sleeping patterns better so that I am able to make more out of my time.  Playing cash is a lot more flexible than MTT's (which is my background for the last 4 years) and you can start stop whenever.  This is one of the most appealing feats of PLO/Poker to me as I love being free. I can travel, dance or take time off whenever I like.  

However I need to realise that this means that I have to accept accountability for my own progress, that I have to take responsibility for my own success and that the improvement of my work ethic needs to come from myself! 

I'd be interested to know other player's approach and how they balance their life with poker, how many hours they average a month and what goals they set themselves, everyone is unique.  Any feedback appreciated :)

*I have to state though, I play because I love poker. I enjoy playing and learning, and every time I sit down at the tables I'm motivated to play my best. I can't remember one time where I forced myself to play, but at the moment I could do more and if I want to achieve my goals, I need to do more right. Why limit myself?

Bluffing and Big Calls

I had been coaching MTT's for a few years for various private and staking clients before I transitioned to PLO this Jan. Coaching adds a lot of value to your game as it makes you "practise what you preach" so to say. When you are discussing so many hands, concepts, thought processes, etc. and are regularly giving advice to players, you don't realise it but you are also advising yourself, solidifying your fundamentals and also more to the point, every so often a statement comes out that has a big impact on yourself.

So in a hand I was reviewing with one of my students, the student leads out the river and I asked him his reasoning for this...and he said he didn't know.  I thought about it for a second then the advice I gave him was to "justify the reasoning for every action you make, before you make it".  

Seems pretty simple and logical right? but then when I started playing some PLO I realised that a lot of the bets I was making were not justified, or had a very poor justification! Like a "standard C bet".  I wasn't thinking about my sizing, what I am expecting my opponent to do, the details of the flop texture, etc. I was just being lazy.  You could certainly argue that the source of this problem is part of the mental game and about your approach / bringing your A game to the tables.  

However onto topic, in the first 2-3 weeks of me playing my hero calls and bluffs were pretty poor to say the least; aimless or non-logical might be a better words for it. But since I started justifying to myself every action I make (and sometimes I say it out loud) and am taking the time to ensure I am making the best decision I can, my confidence and results in these spots have got so much better.  

These are the kind of questions I ask myself: What are my pot odds? What type of player is he? What is he capable of? What story has the hand told so far? What kind of hands could he have and what kind of hands could I have? What sizing would be best and why? What are my options?

In one of Phil Galfond's videos he says that he likes to ensure his bets and lines can have multiple meanings, i.e. value bets represent lines bluff's or weaker holdings could take, or bluff's represent hands that strong holdings would take. 

Granted, easier said than done, but something worth considering when playing and trying to push your edges.

Some examples ;)


I'll review this post again in about a month and see how far I have progressed.  I had planned to not make any profit this first month, so I am very happy with the outcome and to see my bankroll growing - but more importantly I am very happy with the fact that I have improved so much.  

The first 2-3 weeks of my playing, there is no doubt about it:  I was a losing player and from reviewing the hands, I could probably say now around $3-4k of my losses were not essentially unnecessary (because I am learning); but are mistakes I have learnt from and are very unlikely to make again. These were due to lack of experience, technical ability and knowledge of PLO. 

I have 3 goals to achieve before the next post (planned for mid Feb):

1) To continue learning, improving and challenging myself

2) To show an overall profit by the next review

3) To increase my volume of hands played by 50%, without impacting my learning or ability to play my A game

Hope this was interesting to some of you, writing this down I know and can feel is making me a better player; as it is documenting my thoughts and forcing me to think subjectively about my poker.  

If you have any comments or feedback it would be much appreciated, be as harsh as you like with them: I'm tough to offend and ready to learn :) GL at the tables all,


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