Last year, there were 314 players, and the year before, when Lee Watkinson took the bracelet, there were only 218 players. Due to the explosion of PLO, mostly online, I'd expect this to increase again, perhaps maybe breaking the 400-player mark. In the meantime, I thought I'd lay out a few PLO tournament pointers:
Nit It Up
For a PLO freezeout, you can't gamble, now that sounds inherently stupid, but this is not a rebuy tournament. Every time you place chips into the pot, you bring yourself closer to tournament oblivion, but the crux is that PLO is a flop game and you're just going to have to see some flops, just make sure you're holding good cards and not trap hands.
Avoid anything with a dangler, Q-J-T-5, 9-8-7-2, you need all four cards in working order, otherwise it's like turning up in your car to a Nascar race with one flat tyre. Avoid overplaying any A-A-x-x hands also, people when they re-raise you will naturally put your on this hand, and when playing any big pair, be prepared to give it up when you don't improve on the flop. This means you'll be folding overpairs A LOT, but that's just standard for PLO.
The best way to look at big pairs that do not come with any helpful cards like A-A-6-2 or Q-Q-7-5, is to play them for set-value at best, if at all. Most flops, you should be dumping them, especially in multi-way pots, heads-up you can take shots at the safer flops such as holding K-K-x-x on a Q-7-2 rainbow board, but again, be prepared to give up the hand if you are raised.
Draw To The Nuts Only!
In a 6-max cash game, you can just about get away with making low-ends of the straight, weaker flushes but in a full-ring tournament, this just can't be done. You want the nut-draw pretty much all the time, and early on, even if you flop a big wrap with flush draw you don't particularly want get all your stack as quick as you can. If you're drawing against top set, you're still only the better side of a coinflip at best, and if the board pairs on the turn, you're often going to be drawing dead by then.
It's that simple. If you don't have the nuts or aren't drawing to the nuts then get out the pot. Stay away from the idiot ends of the straight draw or chasing the 5-high flush draws, as you'll only ever go broke in the long term. When you pick up good hands, play them aggressively, and if the board kills your hand, as it invariably will from time to time, then without a redraw, give up because your hand won't be good.
Slowplaying is a great trappy way of picking up extra money against overly aggressive players in no-limit hold'em, but you just don't need to do that in Omaha. There's so many scare cards out there, that you should generally just keep betting while you have the best hand. Say, you're holding 7-7-x-x and the flop comes 7-5-5. In hold'em, you might slowplay that hand, but in PLO there is no need to.
A person will have to call at least one bet with a 5 and may pay you off more if they make a smaller house. Also, if you slowplay and a card bigger than a 7 comes off, it might make a bigger house for someone else and there will be very little you will be able to do in getting away from that. If no-one calls, then it was unlikely you were getting any more money from the hand anyway.
I've mentioned before how often people go broke playing A-A-x-x, the best way to avoid doing this is that if you can't get 1/3 or more of your stack preflop with aces then don't re-raise. Also a disguised flopped set of aces are usually profitable since people will assume you'd re-raise preflop with them.
Other trap hands are ones like A-K-Q-J, it's a good hand, but you don't want to get into a raising war with it, you're usually dominated and in serious problems. Hands like K-Q-J-T or 9-8-7-6 are much better since you will know where you stand post-flop and won't ever be in too bad shape vs aces.
The most difficult situations to avoid though are when you flop an underful, that is, the bottom house such as holding 7-6-6-5 and the flop coming T-T-6. These hands have to be played very cautiously if deep-stacked, (if you or your opponent is short, you should just get it all-in quickly). And generally, if your opponent raises on the river against a bet from you, you generally should always be passing there as you're never good.
Hopefully, if you're following our PLO coverage and are an Omaha novice, then these pointers should help you out somewhat.