Euro edge? Ziigmund and durrrr talk PLO

Tom Dwan
"There's more gambling and more variance and that makes it more enjoyable."

The first day of the $10k Pot Limit Omaha World Championship kicked off Saturday at the 2009 World Series of Poker with a decidedly international field.

PLO, a game once favored only by hardcore Euro-rounders, has seen a huge resurgence on this side of the Atlantic, including those who play at the highest stakes online.

"It's a more complex game than No Limit Hold'em," explained Tom "durrrr" Dwan, the American poster boy for nosebleed stakes online.

"There's more gambling and more variance and that makes it more enjoyable."

While the poker boom in North America was in full swing over the past few years and millions were flocking to No Limit Hold'em, European card rooms continued to spread PLO regularly for the core of players on the other side of the pond.

As a result, Finn Ilari "Ziigmund" Sahamies, who frequents the same high-stakes online tables as Dwan, trading pots that often reach up to an astounding $600,000, says Europeans have always had the experience edge in the game.

"I think the average European player is definitely better than the average American," he said. "But they're getting better."

Dwan agrees.

"[Europeans] did have an edge a few years ago, but right now it's just a slight edge." Dwan said.

"Finnish players, and maybe Europeans as a whole, might still have a slight edge in experience, but Canadians and Americans are closing the gap."

Ilari Sahamies
"There's definitely more action."

Among the masses, PLO has always had a reputation as a game with more swings than No-Limit Hold'em.

However, Dwan said that may be a misconception.

"It's really not as swingy as most people think," he explained. "When played correctly, Heads-Up No-Limit Hold'em can be twice as swingy. The problem is most people don't play correctly.

"There are still people who don't play Heads-Up No Limit Hold'em as aggressively as they should, but even inexperienced players know they need to be aggressive in PLO."

Sahamies says that's part of what makes the game so attractive to high-stakes players.

"The game is more fun," he said. "There's definitely more action."

While Dwan has played very few events at the 2009 WSOP thus far, he and another Finn, Patrik Antonius, have met on the virtual felt for a couple of durrrr Challenge sessions, including a 15-hour marathon that saw Dwan take a more than $700k overall lead.

The challenge consists of Dwan putting up $1.5 million to any challenger's $500,000, four-tabling PLO or No Limit Hold'em heads-up with minimum $200/$400 stakes over 50,000 hands.

Should any challenger be up when the 50,000 hands are through, Dwan will be out the $1.5 million. Of course, should Dwan end up ahead, he gets the challenger's $500,000.

Antonius was the first to accept the challenge and chose PLO.

"It's really up to whoever plays me as to what we'll play," Dwan said. "Patrick chose PLO and I think Phil Ivey will be next. I'm not sure whether he'll choose No Limit Hold'em or PLO. Whatever he wants is fine with me."

While Dwan claims he has no preference, he definitely feels it might be easier to find an edge in PLO, even against the best players on the planet.

"There's just so many more situations one has to deal with in PLO," he said. "It's easier for players to come to bad conclusions and it's easier for a player to think they're actually winning money when they aren't."

Day 2 of the $10k Pot Limit Omaha World Championship rolls on Sunday beginning at 2 p.m. PT and both Dwan and Sahamies hold healthy stacks.

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