When checking out the 2+2 PLO forum, people were truly ecstatic after the release of this book by the previously unknown Jeff Hwang. People talked about a truly in-depth piece, and the possibly best PLO material to date.
While I like the book, I am only moderately enthusiastic. Basically, this is not much more than just a book aimed at beginners. The strategy recommended is not much more than just a waiting game / nut-peddling approach, where you play tight in full-ring games, selecting hands that can flop big hands or premium (straight) draws, so that you will have an edge in the big pots that you play. For the beginning players, Hwang’s description of wraps is definitely very useful, and he has tried to be accurate and serious – all good things. Therefore, I would recommend the book to especially new players, with the following points of criticism:
• New players nowadays start out with short-handed PLO online. There’s nothing about these types of games in the book. The advice is mostly about full-ring games, especially loose-passive full ring games, and these games are hardly available anymore – at least not above the $1-2 level.
• Why do PLO books always have material about limit Omaha or (pot-limit) Omaha/8? Just like in Sammy Farha’s book, I would rather have had an in-depth approach about just one game than a little bit about everything.
- No mentioning of – to online players – highly important programs like PokerTracker Omaha / PokerAce HUD, or sites like propokertools.com or twodimes.net. Calculations are merely done through the Wilson software and the CardPlayer calculator – not the two best of tools IMO.
- “Always bet pot” advice that I’m not very fond of. In fact, as can be seen in my books and articles, I rarely if ever come out betting the pot!
- Lots of times, like in the example hands, Hwang recommends “Raise” or “Bet again” – but he almost never mentions by how much. So, the most crucial part of information often seems to be missing.
- His quizzes have the same bad rating system that Stewart Reuben also uses – with sometimes 0 points for options that clearly have some merit, and that under some circumstances could even be my preferred play!
- Way too much emphasis on folding the nut straight. Hwang seems to think that every time that someone bets, he has the nuts + redraw. Folding the nut straight on the flop should be a real exception. Those who follow Hwang’s advice will start doing it habitually, forgetting the fact that people can be betting with lots of different hands other than the nuts (a set, two pair + gutshot, pair + nut flush draw, or even just the blockers). Especially at the higher stakes, the bare nuts with no extras can be a hand worth playing for the entire stack. (Maybe not always on the flop, but definitely on the turn – assuming you are up against a “player” and not a total Rock.)
- Hwang’s play shown clear signs of someone who makes different-sized preflop raises, where the size of his raise tends to give away tremendous advice about the content of his hand. For instance on page 115, he raises to $20 after one $5 limper with AAKK, yet on page 114 in a similar situation, he raises to just $15 after two $5 limpers with the much more speculative T986. With deep money and / or against decent opposition, giving away information like this is plain suicide.
- The pot-sized raises are not always calculated correctly. (p. 103 a pot-sized raise would be $69, not $78; also p. 108 a pot raise is to $47.50, not $56.50.)
- On two occasions in the book, the author (correctly) recommends to raise on the flop with a huge draw, but when faced with a pot-sized reraise, he recommends to just call. His reasoning: If the board pairs on the turn, you can still get away from your hand. This is incorrect reasoning, as the assumption is that the opponent must have top set – but there are many more hands the opponent could have where you would still be drawing live even after a pair on the turn. For instance, the opponent could be reraising with a big draw of his own (from his perspective, as you have the better draw), meaning that in this case you should just jam the flop once more to avoid getting bluffed out on the turn, and to simply push the edge that you have. Like on p.96, with A♦J♦T♥9♥ on a flop 8♦7♥4♦, you raise to €100, the opponent raises pot to €325, and instead of the obvious re-reraise all-in with your €1000 stack, Hwang recommends just calling for the reasons mentioned. This is bad advice, as if the board pairs on the turn, you would now fold while having a very live draw against your opponent’s most logical holding, 65 for the nut straight, and you would even get bluffed out if he was pushing a worse draw than you have (say, something like JT9x for a similar wrap without the flush draw).
Notwithstanding all these critical notes, “Pot-Limit Omaha Poker – The Big Play Strategy” is probably the most analytical PLO book available for relatively inexperienced players. So, especially for them, the “only play hands with sufficient nut potential approach” definitely won’t harm and will in fact be a very solid foundation to start from – even though in shorthanded games or at the higher stakes they will need to learn to lift their games and start playing “Real Poker” in order to be successful.