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Capture the Flag -- Andrew Brown

by Kristy Arnett |  Published: Feb 01, 2010


Andrew Brown
Andrew Brown, also known as “browndog19” online, is one of the best pot-limit Omaha [PLO] players in the world, and he regularly decimates opponents in high-stakes games on the virtual felt. The 27-year-old Brown not only is a great cash-game player, but also owns a World Series of Poker bracelet from a 2008 $2,000 Omaha eight-or-better event, and recently won a $25,000 heads-up pot-limit Omaha tournament on Full Tilt, for $319,000.

Kristy Arnett: What games and stakes do you play on an everyday basis?

Andrew Brown: I’ve been playing higher and higher recently. I’ve been doing really well this past month, which is such a blessing, because I ran like garbage for four months before that. I’ve been doing this for seven years, and before the four months of running terribly, I had only one stretch in my career when I ran even close to that badly. It was just outrageous, obviously defying the odds. Then, all of a sudden, I started doing really well in cash games again, started to run better, and won that tournament. Then, my plan was to play $25-$50 pot-limit Omaha six-max with an ante, but I did so well at that in the following week or two that I moved up to $50-$100, because the games have been really good. Certain people have been moving up in stakes, and some people have been moving down. Durrrr [Tom Dwan] and Isildur1 have been moving down, and I’ve been playing them quite a bit — heads up and six-max, $100-$200, and for a few sessions I played $200-$400 and did really well. My bankroll can’t quite afford $200-$400, but it’s getting close. So, I’m trying to avoid playing $200-$400. I think $100-$200 will be my topish end, and $50-$100 will be my main game for a little while.

KA: What’s your take on Isildur1 and his sudden burst into the high-stakes cash games?

AB: Actually, I have a really unique take on it. I give the guy quite a bit of credit. I think he’s done things strategically in pot-limit Omaha, which I can’t go into, that are completely new. In a sense, he has changed the game. I really don’t care if people agree with me or not, but I’ve watched him play quite a bit; I’ve made a hobby out of watching him. Like a 1¢-2¢ railbird, I have watched him to see what he was doing when he was winning and what he was doing when he was losing. I have my own opinions about whether he plays well or not. I think he has some major leaks, and he might be a little young and inexperienced in certain psychological areas, but he’s done things that are tremendous for the game that some people have adapted to and some haven’t. I’ve definitely taken some things that he’s done that I think are good and added them to my game. There are a lot of things that he’s doing that are new and good, and there are a lot of things that he is doing that are not good. This combination is making his results oscillate like an earthquake meter.

KA: What do you think of his skill?

AB: Do I think he’s good? Yeah, I think he’s got something. Do I think he will go broke before we get a chance to find out? Probably.

That’s the beauty of pot-limit Omaha. In no-limit hold’em, there are a lot fewer showdowns, whereas pot-limit Omaha is a game in which, just by its nature, there are more showdowns, especially when played appropriately, in my opinion. So, you can see what your opponents have and how they are playing. It’s an easier game to spot when you are playing poorly, because you can actually plug in numbers. You can go to and use the odds calculator, and punch it in yourself. “Did I get my money in good there? Was that the right play with the fold equity?”

KA: You mentioned that you were playing pot-limit Omaha cash games with an ante. How does that change the game, and what adjustments must you make to be successful?

AB: It makes the game much, much bigger, and adds an appearance of favoring aggression, which mathematically would sound true, but because other players are more aggressive, maybe it’s better if you play a little tighter. The pots are so much bigger preflop that you kind of have to tread water when it comes to bet-sizing. You have to know when to bet pot, when to bet less than pot, when to min-raise [minimum-raise], and when to limp, because if you’re playing with an ante, the pot can get very big, very quickly. Plus, if you are playing against a short stack or are playing a short stack yourself, with the ante adding so much to the pot preflop, it commits people earlier in the hand.

KA: Is limping a more accepted play in PLO than it is in no-limit hold’em?

AB: Without a doubt. Limping in PLO is exponentially more accepted than it is in no-limit hold’em. In PLO, when you have good hands and are early to act — like under the gun or under the gun plus one — it may be better to limp just to keep the pot small preflop, because you are out of position. Plus, it conceals the strength of your hand. Even though you invite other limpers, as long as you are comfortable with playing limped pots soft, you’ll be fine. Also, you shouldn’t always limp with your good hands from early position; obviously, the key to poker is mixing it up.

KA: What would be a good hand to do this with? What about pocket kings with mediocre side cards?

AB: Generally, good kings are a good hand to raise, because you can afford to get reraised and see a flop, even out of position, as long as you know how to play them and know the percentage of the time that you can give your opponent credit for having aces. A better hand to limp and call a raise with preflop is something like 9-8-8-7 double-suited, a medium hand that you are going to either really smash or not; or, something like 8-7-5-4, a hand that has potential, but if the flop comes something like J-J-2, you’re done with it most of the time. Obviously, there are bluffing spots, but most of the time with these drawing hands, it’s better to just play them soft and see if you can connect first.

KA: Can you explain the concept of blockers and how it applies in PLO?

AB: The concept of blockers in pot-limit Omaha is having cards in your hand that are required to make the nuts. For example, if the board is 9-8-6-5-2 and you have two sevens in your hand, it is less likely that your opponent has a 7 in his hand, because you have half of the sevens in the deck. Therefore, with practice — depending on the action, and the way in which you represent your hand based on your betting pattern and texture of the board, and position, and all of those factors combined — if you have cards in your hand that are required to make the nuts, you will have a little more success bluffing certain hands. You should not do it every time, though, which is a mistake that a lot of players make. Spade Suit