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Mattias Pum Interview

High Roller Radio has interviewed some of the greatest gamblers, casino insiders, sports bettors, authors and poker players. Here, our interview with Matthias Pum, author of Strategies to Beat Small Stakes Pot Limit Omaha, a Twitch Poker live streamer and poker pro.



Q: I got my first real taste of big time PLO in Barcelona, Spain, about 10 years ago. I wasn’t familiar with the game at all, I was there playing no-limit, but i watched these guys play massive pots. This is an action game, they always seem to be saying, ‘Pot, pot, pot!’

MP: Yes, that’s why the dealer’s have to do a really good job. (laughs)

Q: What you’re talking about is the smaller games, smaller stakes, going from beginner to winner in 28 lessons. How do you do that?

MP: I’ve always liked to watch poker videos, especially from pokerstrategy.com, the site where I learned, and I quickly switched over to pot-limit Omaha because I really love the game. I really wanted to learn the theories and everything about the game. 

Q: Why do you love PLO, because there’s so much action? And, I guess for a guy like you, and with others switching over from no-limit hold’em, you can really find some spots at the smaller stakes where you have a clear edge?

MP: Exactly. There are so many small things to learn, so many things that add up, and that’s the beauty of the game. 

Q: Where is the game now in terms of popularity? It seems more and more PLO games are popping up in poker rooms traditionally used to hosting only NLHE? 

MP: Yes, I can definitely see it, especially considering, like you mention, the game is becoming more popular at casinos everywhere.

Q: You’re from Austria, what’s the poker scene like there?

MP: It still leans more toward no-limit hold’em but I can definitely see the game of PLO surging in popularity. People like it.

Q: Must say, I personally prefer Omaha Hi/Lo, that’s my game of choice, but Im intrigued by PLO. It’s appealing to a lot of players, but what are some of the mistakes, or things to watch out for, that NLHE players make when they make the jump to PLO?

MP: I think the biggest difference between no-limit and PLO is hand strength. People coming over from no-limit will definitely over value small pocket pairs and those beautiful looking double-suited rundowns. They think they can play any pot with them but that’s just not the case. I think it’s very difficult in the beginning, in fact this is where my book starts. There is a dedicated chapter focussing on hand selection. You have one page where all the starting hands and all the open-raising hands are listed and you have one page where all the defending, three-betting and four-betting hands are listed, both in position and out of position. I think that’s the best place I could have started a book, for beginners and for people who switch from no-limit to PLO. 

Q: Your book, Strategies to Beat Small Stakes Pot-Limit Omaha, I have to get a copy. You can really take a guy from beginner to winner in 28 lessons? What’s the synopsis on how you do that?

MP: It was the biggest barrier to writing the book. How do you structure a book, that suits both beginners and intermediate players, so that beginners aren’t overwhelmed and intermediate players don’t have an easy ride.

Q: You talk hand selection. There are people in NLHE, players who like to push the action, the table captain, who like any two cards. They come over to PLO and now they have four cards, so hand selection is very important. What about after the flop? Some common mistakes players make in PLO?

MP: After the flop, I think relative versus absolute hand strength is a very big deal. On the river top pair can be an easy call against a bet while second full house can be an easy fold, if someone bets or raises, given the action or the range they’re representing. Another area I think people struggle with? They aren’t able to fold their weak flush and want to look up people too often, even if they know they might be beat. Yes, over-estimating hand strength in PLO is a very big deal.

Q: Should players be defending more in PLO?

MP: The big blind is definitely the position where you are likely to be defending the most in PLO, given the price and the high equity you have.

Q: For many players who take the game seriously, or even those just starting out, the goal is to move up stakes and play for more money. What are some of things to remember while trying to move up to bigger games?

MP: You should definitely be confident about your game. It doesn’t matter how big your bankroll is, if you don’t know that you beat the game then moving up is just not a wise choice in my opinion. Variance is so big in this game, another difference between PLO and no-limit hold’em. If you compare the graph of a winning player in PLO to the graph of a winning player in NLHE it’s just crazy. There are 100k, 200k, break-even stretches in PLO whereas in NLHE I don’t think that’s possible for a decent winning player. In PLO you can win your whole monthly income in just one day, and also lose it, so that’s pretty sick. I think you have to have a very solid mindset to succeed in PLO.

Q: On your website, you list your strengths as, tilt-resistance, patience, self-criticism, the ability to acquire new skills and motivation. Important traits right? You’ll need all of these with so many swings in PLO?

MP: Yes, those are key characteristics you have to acquire. If you’re having a hard time in PLO, like those 100k break-even or losing stretches, then it’s really tough because you don’t know, ‘Is it me? Do I play bad? Or do I just run bad?’ This is why I think you need to start out somewhere by getting advice and talking to players better than you. Also, if you have a winning session are you sure you really played well? In that moment you might be but the next day you play the same way and lose 20 buy-ins. Are you then still confident you are playing well? This is why I recommend you understand the theory behind PLO. There are a lot of concepts you have to learn in order to feel confident about your game to take those swings as well. The goal of the book is to have one state-of-the-art PLO piece of material that might be the best on the market. That’s how I’m using Twitch Poker, the live streaming, I want to establish myself as the best coach for small stakes pot-limit Omaha. Where my book is different than others is you really have to work through my book. I think that’s crucial if you want to get better at poker. It’s not just enough to read a book and then fall asleep. My book takes you by the hand and explains to you exactly what to do. There’s 28 lessons, so four weeks, and everyday has its dedicated topic. There’s an introduction to the topic, theories are presented, then there are the exercises where you get to complete the exercises on your own, and then there’s the solutions part, where I recommend answers to the problems and exercises. The last part is the practise section where I explain how to implement those concepts in practice. I think this is the way you get better, not just by reading a book but by really working through it.

Q: I understand you were quite good at Warcraft?

MP: Warcraft was my big childhood passion. I thought about the game all the time, same as poker, I just wanted to get better and be the best. I managed to be the top three in Austria and Switzerland. Then, the best Austrian Warcraft player switched to poker and that’s when I started playing poker as well. You definitely have to put in your own thoughts to get better. It’s not just enough to watch other players, you have to think about why they’re doing what they're doing. So, just like poker, you have to put a lot of study into Warcraft.

Matthias Pum Thank-you!

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Mattias Pum Interview
Author, Strategies to Beat Small Stakes Pot Limit Omaha (Full Audio of this Q&A HERE)

Alright High Rollers, today, one of the most exciting games in the casino. In certain parts of the world it’s the game to play, Omaha. I have personally watched watch some very big PLO cash games. They can get crazy, let me tell you, but today we keep it modest. Our guest is the author of Strategies to Beat Small Stakes Pot Limit Omaha; From Beginner to Winner in 28 Lessons. He is a coach at pokerstrategy.com, live streams on twitch and he’s @rulazPoker on twitter. He just finished a Masters degree in computer science, a true young gun folks, Matthias Pum, welcome to the show man, thanks for being our High Roller today!

MP: Hi Derrick, thanks for having me here.