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Ben ‘milkybarkid’ Grundy shows you how to be strong and tough at one of the swingiest games around – pot limit Omaha
PLO is a swingy game. You only need to look at the nosebleed tables to see how millions can be won or lost overnight.
Yet for the past few years, one player has withstood the swings better than most. UK hotshot Ben ‘milkybarkid’ Grundy has won close to $8 million online, quietly going about his business while all those around him were losing their heads. Here the milkybarkid explains how you can take on all comers at the PLO heads-up tables.
- Heads-up PLO is all about getting inside your opponent’s head and getting on his nerves. In a ring game winning’s more about position, hand selection and reading hands postflop. You don’t have to think as much heads-up.
- When you hit a big hand you can get it in with confidence and a lot of people who play are there to gamble. In ring games people are only playing 25% of hands, compared to 70-75% heads-up. I’ve always found it more fun because of that.
- The most common amateur mistakes in heads-up PLO are not being creative enough and overvaluing hands. For example, top two pair on a 9-T-4 flop is not a going to win very often. You can be crushed by a set, and big wraps and flush draws are a favourite against you.
- Amateurs have to move away from ABC poker. A lot of people will give up on a flop of like T♣-3♣-4♣, fold to a c-bet and move on. But you can’t always fold if you miss. Players will be c-betting 80-90% of flops from the button and you should be floating occasionally in that spot. Players will often put you on a flush and think you’re check-calling if they keep firing.
- Even bad players can win on the button because having position is such a huge advantage heads-up. If you’re aggressive you should be opening 80-90% of hands on the button.
- On the big blind you should be calling less than 60%, otherwise you’re just playing trash a lot of the time.
- The button is so important because you’re creating the preflop action and building the pot. Some trickier players can lead out from the big blind, but 40-50% of players will check the flop to you if you raise from the button preflop.
- In position, fold anything really filthy like 2♣-3♦-7♠-K♥ and horrible, unconnected cards. However, hands like 3♣-3♠-K♥-8♦ are a raise, even without paired suits, because they have much higher value and are easier to play postflop.
Pre is key
- The best heads-up PLO players are three-betting and four-betting a lot out of position preflop. Opening ranges are now a lot wider and you’ll see players getting stacks in with hands like 7♦-8♦-9♣-T♣. If that’s how you want to play, you’ve got to be willing to three-bet or four-bet light.
- Some people argue that there’s no need to three-bet preflop out of position, even with Aces. You don’t want to bloat the pot with 10% of your stack only to not have a clue on a 6♣-7♦-9♦ flop.
- If your opponent is good he’ll keep putting pressure on you if you’re out of position and you’ll have no real choice but to keep giving away pots all the time. You should tighten up against aggressive players in the big blind. That way if you call or raise with premium hands you can be pretty confident you’re ahead of their range.
Size ’em up
- Bet sizing is really important and needs to be considered carefully. If you are playing a non-tricky, passive player, betting 50-70% of the pot will normally get them to fold the flop, which is what you want.
- I’ll c-bet less against really aggro players. They’re not going to just fold hands all the time and I often prefer to just give up. It’s better to lose 3BB when you flop nothing than go chasing with your stack.
- If you flop top set on a dangerous J♣-K♠-T♥ style board, c-bet 100% of the time if no one three-bet preflop. But that doesn’t mean get your whole stack in. If you are check-raised in that spot it’s usually a pure bluff or the nuts.
- Look to get all-in with T-T-x-x on a 7♣-8♣-T♠ type flop. You can sometimes get 6-9-x-x to fold, and if they decide to gamble with lower sets or a flush draw you are in good shape.
- There are lots of hands on the 7-8-T flop that you will be ahead of if you get all-in on the flop, whereas on the J-K-T flop, a decent opponent will nearly always be ahead with a set if you get all-in after only a single raise preflop.
No HUDs allowed
- I try to avoid playing on sites where my opponent could be using a HUD. I don’t believe in them, they’re anti-poker. I don’t like the idea of someone using a piece of software to gain an advantage over me.
- I try to use my brain and keep an eye on how often my opponent is c-betting or check-folding. The field is quite thin at my level anyway, so you’ve usually met your opponent before.
- When you’ve played hundreds of thousands of hands like I have, you’ve seen every flop, every opponent and every scenario. Hand volume is more important to your development than any HUD.
No fear, no surrender
- If you flop top set on a T-9-2 board and you’re not happy getting 100BB in then you’re playing too high. Slow down and you could get bluffed on the turn after a million scare cards. You need to have no fear.
- I hate losing, but over the past few years I’ve never, ever sat out to another player. I want to beat everyone so badly that it’s almost a leak. The only way you’re going to get better is to play superior players.
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