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Interview with Odd Oddsen part 1 – The volume grinder who made it to the top

This is part 1/3 of an interview with PLO high stakes player Ola ‘Odd_Oddsen’ Amundsgård, published by the Danish poker news site PNN.dk and reprinted here in English with their permission. Link to PNN.dk interview (in Danish).

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The Norwegian highroller ’Odd_Oddsen’/’No_Ola’ has been one of the highlights at the high stakes tables during the last two years, which have seen him take home millions of Norwegian kroner from PokerStars and Full Tilt.

For a long time he chose to keep his identity to himself, and he has also kept a low profile in the press. Therefore, we are proud to present an interview series with him here at PNN.dk.

And let’s start wih an explanation of the secrecy surrounding his identity.

“I chose to keep my identity secret for several reasons. I was born and raised in a place where everybody knows everybody, where playing poker is somewhat of a “taboo” and isn’t regarded as “proper” work.”

“At the same time I’m a student at the University of Tromsø a couple of days a week, and I have wanted to keep a low profile to avoid “noise” in daily life,” says ‘Odd_Oddsen’, whose real name is Ola Amundsgård.

It’s important to test yourself against better players
Early in his career he busted his bankroll time and again by playing NL Hold’em, but when he switched to Pot-Limit Omaha, things started happening. As the saying goes, the rest is history.

What have been the most important factors in making it to the top of the poker pyramid? Has it been mathematical calculations, trying to play in an unexploitable fashion, or simply making smaller mistakes than the opponents, exploiting bad players, finding small leaks in the games of other regulars, or other things?

“I think all the things you mention are very important in order to reach an objective understanding and competence in the efforts to make it to the top.”

“The ability to analyze regulars and make decisons based on that is fundamental and extremely important. At the lower stakes they of course have more leaks than higher in the system. The higher you get, the more important mathematics and focus on unexploitable/GTO play becomes. The opponents are generally getting better every day, and tougher the higher you play.”

“Table selection is also important, but in my opinion there are many regulars at the lower stakes that will never make it all the way to the top, because they haven’t logged enough volume against good/better opponents. I have taken many -EV spots against many regulars (both consciously and unconsciously) on my way through the system, and I am convinced that this has been important for my game.”

Volume is everything
’Odd_Oddsen’ also stresses the importance of volume in his game. He doesn’t think calculations, GTO and the like, matters much, unless you also play lots of hands.

“Work ethic and the ability to multitable without losing too much win rate are very important skills, especially if you plan to work your way to the top.”

And ’Odd_Oddsen’ gives us an example to illustrate why this is so important.

“Let’s say you have a bankroll of $20,000 and you’re playing $1/$2 Pot Limit Omaha with a 100 buy-in limit for moving up in stakes.”

“If you’re playing six tables at a time, you will play around 500 hands per hour. With a win rate of $6/100 (3bb/100), your hourly will be $30/h. Your goal is to make $20,000, and you have an EV of $30 per hour played, so on average you will have to play 666 hours (($20000 / ($30 / $h) = 666.6h) in order to move up in stakes.”

“The conclusion is therefore that proper volume is extremely important, and you will have to grind a lot of hands to even have a chance of making it”.

Has played over four million hands
Personally, ’Odd_Oddsen’ has found multitasking easy, given his background as a serious gamer (Starcraft and Counter-Strike). He typically plays between 16 and 24 tables at a time.

“I have played more than four million hands, so practice makes perfect,” ’Odd_Oddsen’ says with a smile.

Even if ’Odd_Oddsen’ both has control over the mathematical aspect of the game and has logged significant volume, it’s not that he consider himself invulnerable.

Generally, he has had some problems against opponents that are playing a very good GTO strategy (game theory optimal).

“The reason that I have struggled against this type of opponent is that I play an exploitative strategy with GTO mixed in. My GTO approach for building ranges isn’t as fundamentally good as those of the best heads-up PLO players”.

“The point is, I am not as good in balancing my ranges as the GTO masters Ben ’Sauce1234’ Sulsky, Ben ’Ben86’ Tollerene, ’d2emfi’, ’lefort’ and others. Especially in heads-up PLO, where I have a lot of work ahead of me, if I want to compete with these players.

“But with my game I will have a larger EV and $/h in a 6-max lineup than many of the players mentioned above, since I play exploitative strategyes well, identify leaks quickly, and generally have a good understanding of how to exploit leaks maximally. That said, this only works in lineups where players deviate from GTO. My style of play is also pretty flexible, in that I quickly pick up on who to adjust against and when to do it. Especially in lineups against regulars with leaks. The bigger the leaks, the higher my EV will be, relative to the GTO regs,” the Norwegian says to PNN.dk.

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