Poker players are constantly looking for new challenges when it comes to strategy. Learning new poker rules and playing different variants — including trying mixed games and other non-hold'em formats — is one good way to exercise those "poker muscles" and think about various aspects of the game differently and more skillfully.
In an article for PokerNews last month, Lee Jones wrote "In Praise of the Banana Games," alluding to the mixed games on PokerStars dubbed by Team PokerStars Pro Jason Somerville as "banana games" in part because of "the sometimes crazy nature of such mixes."
Speaking of crazy games, PokerStars not only offers many online but also often introduces non-standard variants at their live events.
Today marks the start of the PokerStars Championship Bahamas series, with the nine-day, 92-event schedule including a number of off-the-beaten-path variants including "Win the Button," "Deuces Wild," survivor and knockout tournaments, and more.
For pot-limit Omaha fans there are a number of PLO events on the PokerStars Championship Bahamas schedule, including a "Dealer's Choice" variant later today allowing the player with the button to call whether players will be dealt four or five hole cards.
At the final European Poker Tour stop in Prague last month, PokerStars included a different, brand new PLO variant among the mix of offerings, one called PLO 3-2-1 that proved both entertaining and challenging to those who took part.
To explain briefly how PLO 3-2-1 is played, it begins much like regular pot-limit Omaha, with players dealt four hole cards and following the same sequence of four betting rounds — preflop, flop, turn, and river. Like in regular PLO, players use two of their four hole cards along with three community cards to form a five-card poker hand.
It's those community cards that introduce a significant twist to this PLO variant.
Rather than deal just three cards for the flop, in PLO 3-2-1 there are three flops dealt in three rows. Players then can choose which of the flops they wish to use when starting to make their hands.
Then on the turn there are two turn cards dealt, with players again choosing one of them. Finally there is just one river card — thus three flops, two turns, one river = PLO 3-2-1. (That photo up top shows how the final board looks.)
Matias Knaapinen of Finland won the event in Prague, with the United Kingdom's Benny Glaser rounding out a very successful 2016 with a third-place finish. Our Sarah Herring spoke with Glaser about the new format.
PLO players know how having four hole cards instead of two means hand strength goes up compared no-limit hold'em. As you might imagine, the additional board cards further affect things, with players able to make even stronger hands. That in turn affects the value of starting hands, just one of the elements of PLO 3-2-1 strategy Glaser discusses below:
For more about how PLO 3-2-1 went in Prague, see Sarah's conversation with PokerStars Tournament Director Europe Thomas Lamatsch.
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