There’s no denying that unlimited Texas Hold’em still dominates the poker scene, but for some players who prefer a little more action, pot-limit Omaha (PLO) is their favorite game. Taking this even further, true action addicts have developed an affinity “Big O”.
Big O is a form of Omaha poker where players receive five cards instead of four cards. The format is also played split Hi-Lo with half of the pot awarded to the upper hand and the other half to the lower hand, as long as there is a low hand that is classified under rule 8 or better.
The game is said to have originated in Southern California in 2008, but it has taken more than a decade to progress to its current state, which includes live and online bidding. In fact, there are currently some massive Big O games online, and it’s no surprise that they’ve attracted some expert gamers to the game.
One of these players is 38 years old Johnny “Blaze” Flores, who has developed a reputation as one of the most experienced and accomplished Big O players in this type of game; in fact, one of his nicknames is “Big O Boss.” PokerNews recently spoke with Flores not only to learn a little more about him, but also about the great game that is Big O.
Learn the rules of Big O here!
Finding your way to poker
Flores was born and raised in Chicago before moving to Wisconsin with his family in his senior year of high school. The eldest of six children, he has three brothers and two sisters, Flores was raised by his mother, Dawn, and his stepfather, Bob, with strong support from his grandmother as well.
“I come from a large family and I have four children, two boys and two girls,” he told PokerNews. “My eldest is 18 and my youngest is almost six.”
In fact, it was with his family that Flores learned to play poker, often playing seven cards against his aunts and uncles.
Flores (right) with his uncle John (center).
“My Uncle John Yacko he is the one who really influenced my interest in letters from my youth. I was naturally good and he saw something in me like, “Hey, this kid understands that.” I was like his little protégé, so he took me under his wing and taught me what was what. Today, when he feels capable, I take him on a trip with me when I travel. “
In fact, Uncle John has been one of his nephew’s biggest supporters. Flores points out that his uncle is old-school and gives him unconditional support despite facing health challenges such as diabetes and cancer (which he overcame).
Flores continued: “As a kid, I used to have a little tradition of brothers and sisters that we would do every Halloween. Savers, of course, I was the mastermind behind this operation and tradition. , but I just won.
Although Flores had occasional jobs in his youth, he was primarily a waiter before becoming a professional poker player.
“My mom always said, ‘The saddest thing about life is lost talent.’
In fact, Flores has been a staple in the Wisconsin and Chicagoland poker scenes for more than a decade, and more recently, both online and nationwide.
“I started playing games online and eventually the money made it possible for me to afford to travel to make more money,” he said. “There was the opportunity for better games, higher bets and a lot more game.”
Johnny Flores with his family.
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Ascent through the ranks
Flores was an experienced PLO player, so it didn’t take long for him to fit into the extra card when he first introduced himself to Big O, which emerged about five years ago when the founder of the Madison Poker Community (MPC) ) Michael Hanson it caught his eye.
“I was self-taught and never read poker books, watched videos, listened to podcasts, etc. I had a natural talent for playing cards and I have perfected it over the years,” he said. “Like anything, the more you practice, the more you can thrive to perfect it. Yes, there’s luck in the cards, but it’s also about knowing when to withdraw, call, check or bet. It’s really about being smart and “It’s best to be under pressure in the midst of the excitement of it all. It’s the best and most natural thing to be on the edge of your seat with pure adrenaline that is released when you’re about to crush a pot.”
He continued: “It’s been up and down, up and down, like a roller coaster, like any other player, but for the most part I’ve been stable. The real problem was the limited games in my area, so I started traveling. I was a professional six years ago and that’s when my career really started. That’s when I started making six figures a year. “
Johnny Flores in action.
Today, Flores plays all forms of Omaha, but his “bread and butter” comes from playing Big O for $ 5-10 and $ 10 to $ 20 bets. Online, he claims he has an average of $ 5,000 a week playing these games, and while he plays in an occasional tournament, these “are not my concert or my jam to say the least.”
Although he plays mostly online, Flores said there are good live Big O games in Texas and at Bicycle Casino in LA. Whenever he talks about Big O, it’s clear that Flores has a passion for gaming.
“I want to raise awareness of the game. There’s a lot of money in this game and some may be talented and not even aware of the potential they have in store. Like when scouts go out looking for the perfect baseball player to recruit. “Professional baseball can be just a kid in a small town waiting to be a professional. Someone has to be aware of it and keep their eyes on it to see something in it like my uncle did in me.”
So what advice does Flores have for new players who want to try Big O?
“I would say you are away from the middle cards, and nut flop scales will get you in trouble when you are only looking for half the pot when the best thing you can do is half the pot,” he offered. “If you’re not sitting with a solid bass and an ace in your hand, stay out of the pot. Don’t have a bass in your hand without this ace to go with it. The only acceptable hand without an ace is 2345 if you are entering a flop with a bass in your hand. AK234s are huge hands. The A23 double suit always puts pressure. “
For more information on Flores, follow him on Twitter @pokerprollc.
Learn the rules of Big O here!
Chad Holloway Executive Editor USA
U.S. Executive Editor, co-presenter of the PokerNews podcast and winner of the 2013 WSOP bracelet.