Welcome to part 5 of 7 in our guide to the major differences to consider when transitioning to PLO from Hold ‘Em.
5. The correct play is more dependant on stack sizes
Because we are limited to the amount we can bet in PLO it means we often can’t “price our opponents out” pre-flop as any bet we make will always give our opponents at least 2:1 odds to call. Add to that the fact that in PLO hand values run much closer together (you’re typically not more than a 60% favourite pre-flop) and you have a situation where deciding whether to 3bet or 4bet becomes a lot closer and more dependant on stack sizes.
Take the following hand:
This is an example of what is known as “bad aces”: we still have aces but there is absolutely nothing to go with it. No coordinated cards, no possible flush draws, nothing. Because of this, this hand can be difficult to play out of position deep so even though we can expect to almost always have the best hand pre-flop, we actually don’t want to be 3betting this hand as the stacks get deeper.
Imagine you’re in the small blind in a 6 max $0.5/$1 game. The player first to act (UTG) opens for pot, it folds around to you, what should you do? Well it all depends on your stack size. If you have just $40 in front of you then it’s an easy 3bet, after you pot it and he calls the pot will be around $20 leaving you just $30 behind, you can pretty much pot any flop and get it in profitably.
Change the situation, however, and give you a $75 starting stack… suddenly the situation becomes a lot more difficult to play. After you 3bet and he calls you’ll still have $65 left, he’ll be in position, have a good idea of what you have and, unless you flop a set, you’ll be pretty much lost. Because of this, it’s good to flat call bad aces as your stack gets deeper.
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Similar problems occur with bad aces when considering a 4bet. Given the $75 stack we just talked about if we raised from middle position and the BB 3bet us then it would be an easy 4bet, if our opponent called it would be less than a pot sized bet to put all of the rest of our money in, he’s not going to outflop us often enough for that to be unprofitable. Change it to a $160 starting stack, however, and we again have a problem. Unless we’re 4betting with a variety of non AAxx hands then our opponent will be in a situation where he can make the call knowing exactly what we have and only stack off when he outflops us. Because of this it’s usually better to just flat call the 3bet with bad aces.
Although I’ve only talked about aces in this discussion it should be clear how this can apply to all sorts of hands. The correct play will often be heavily dependent on your stack size and your opponents stack size. If you’re holding KK92 and you’re sitting on a 150bb deep stack you can still 3bet your opponent out of position and get the money in if he’s only started with a 25bb stack. If you’re 200bb deep you can consider 4bet bluffing with a hand like 789T to throw your opponents off, if you’re shallower, however, you would be better advised to flat call, unless the villain is particularly aggressive with his reraising.
Remember, unlike in NLHE you can’t overbet the pot and force your opponent out of the hand, so you need to think carefully about whether reraising will actually make you money or simply make the hand more difficult to play. Always check the stack sizes of the players involved in the hand before you make your play and consider all options carefully.
Click here for reason #6: Playing loose/passive pre flop can be okay