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Jan-Peter Jachtmann is a household name in the German poker scene.
The publisher of a German poker print magazine and owner of a German poker news site, Jachtmann has also made a name for himself on the felt with, among other things, a gold bracelet in the $10k PLO Championship at the 2012 WSOP.
Jachtmann as well stars in several TV poker shows including Cash Kings – an ongoing entity filmed at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov and one of the biggest cash games in Europe.
PartyPoker recently secured Jachtmann as an ambassador for the German poker market (alongside former tennis champion Boris Becker) and both are now promoting the former market leader’s return to online poker glory.
Jachtmann’s specialty is the game of Pot-Limit Omaha and we met up with him in the high-stakes cash game area of the Gran Casino Barcelona last month to find out why PLO is on course for a dramatic rise.
PokerListings: Is PLO generally underrepresented?
Jan-Peter Jachtmann: Pretty much the only $10k buy-in PLO events happen here and at the PSCs in Prague and Monaco.
The World Series is obviously unmatchable; they even have a $25k tournament. I’m a bit disappointed, though, that the PLO event at WSOP Europe only has a €2k buy-in.
PL: You mean €5k would have been more appropriate?
JPJ: Definitely. PLO is unfortunately still treated a bit poorly there. If you ask why that is, you’d always get the answer that there are more Hold’em players, which of course is true.
However, there are now a large number of PLO cash-game players.
At many poker festivals in Europe you’ll now find more PLO than Hold’em cash-game tables running — for example in Austria, but also here in Barcelona or in Monaco.
There is an indisputable trend towards Pot-Limit Omaha.
PL: You often hear people say poker is dead, everyone is solid, there’s no value in it anymore. Nobody ever says that about PLO.
JPJ: The development from being a beginner to becoming a good player is just longer in PLO.
In Hold’em you have that option to just put it all-in pre-flop and then hope to get called – or not get called. Either way the action is over before the flop comes down.
In PLO, that option isn’t there. Not just because it’s not a No-Limit game but also because there isn’t that perfect starting hand like pocket aces in Hold’em.
It takes more to become good at PLO and to avoid mistakes. But the general level of play is going up in PLO, too.
Yet it’s far from becoming boring. This game has so many variants – and so much variance – that it’ll never be boring.
In PLO every player can develop his own personal style and you can play many hands in different ways which might all be legitimate. There’s no simple right and wrong way.
You have plenty of space for tactical manoeuvres because the hand values are so close to each other. Some players prefer to raise with high cards, while other rather use rundowns.
Ronny Kaiser, who is one of the best Omaha players in the world, sometimes raises with completely bizarre hands and the result is he’s almost impossible to figure out.
But there are parallels to Hold’em, too. For example, you shouldn’t bluff a beginner as he doesn’t know the thought process behind that bluff – yet.
PL: Should there be PLO streams at poker events?
JPJ: Let me put it this way: in German poker shows like the Cash Kings, the episodes where we’re showing PLO always get a lot more feedback than the others.
Part of the reason is that these are the nights with the biggest pots. But it’s also because there are a lot of weird, funny and sometimes absurd situations — particularly if you have players like Gus Hansen, Leon Tsoukernik and me at the table.
In Hold’em that just doesn’t happen very often. You need people like Rob Yong who do crazy things sometimes.
Leon, of course, is also someone who not only loves the game but also the show. If nothing happens at the table Leon goes mad. If you turn out to be a rock at the table you just won’t get invited anymore.
But Hold’em won’t go away. It’s far too easy to learn for that. Everybody gets two cards and then let’s go. The other game is just more complex.
PL: The number of online players has been dwindling for years but Barcelona saw some of the largest live tournaments ever in Europe. The fascination seems to still be there.
JPJ: I’m very happy to see live poker so alive. Because poker is awesome. Poker is the most awesome thing! I’m saying that even though I’m now representing the online provider partypoker.
I started playing online again, too, because of my contract. After several years of a hiatus I’m surprised that I’m actually having fun doing it.
However, I must admit that technological progress has passed me by. I’ve never used software like Hold’em Manager or any of the others and I really don’t want to either.
That’s the beauty of live poker. You have that one single table. You can see the people; you see the dynamic, the psychology. You look someone in the eye and you find that read.
That’s just missing online. Which is why I like how PartyPoker, but also the other big operators, give players the chance to use online poker as a vehicle to qualify for live events.
Just think of all the events in the Caribbean, in Sochi, Rozvadov or Nottingham. There are always plenty of players there who qualified online for little money and then play for millions of euros in big events.
PL: partypoker has been rising like a phoenix lately. They went from market leader to oblivion to back in business.
JPJ: Several factors play into this. Some of the most important driving forces at partypoker are recently employed. John Duthie, who was one of the founders of the EPT, and Rob Yong of Dusk till Dawn, who never shies away from things like paying an overlay if it helps the game.
Also, competition is good for the industry. That’s just a fact. My impression is that the operators now care more than they used to and players can only benefit from this. I think that, in general, things are really looking up.
PL: Thank you, Jan-Peter Jachtmann.