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PLO Draws

[Note. This is part two of a two part guide to PLO Draws. Part one is here: Omaha Draws]

In the first part of the PLO Draws guide we went over the value of combo draws and how quickly your equity can start adding up given a few small changes to your hand holding. In this part we’ll talk about the value of drawing to the nuts and when to play your weaker draws cautiously.

The value of nut PLO draws

In PLO when you’re drawing you usually only want to be calling big bets with draws to the nuts, sometimes called “clean outs”. The reason? Because in Pot Limit Omaha it’s all too easy for the 2nd nuts to lose you a lot of money. Winning a huge pot with the Q high flush, for example, is a lot harder than you might think. Similadrly holding 56xx on a 789 flop is likely to either win you a small pot or lose you  a big one over the long run if you play it too aggressively.

Take a typical example. You raise from middle position in a six-handed cash game and a tight player calls on the button. You are holding the following hand:

And the flop falls:

You’ve flopped a gutshot and a flush draw but crucially both these PLO draws are to non-nut hands. If you hit your ten there will be two better straights out there. If you hit your flush it will only be the eight high flush. The pot is $15 and you make a pot sized continuation bet of $15 with your draw, your opponent raises you to $48 making it $33 to call. You each started the hand with $200 stacks. What should you do?

Well in my eyes this is an easy fold. Yes it’s only $33 to call and the pot is already $78 in size but the trouble with doing so is that you have very disturbing negative implied odds. If you hit one of your draws you’re much more likely to go broke to a better draw that got there than you are to stack your opponents made hand. Take a look at this table to see how your PLO draw compares to a range of possible holdings a tight player might raise you with in this spot; now attempt to figure out how you can make money out of position by calling in this situation. I’d argue there is no way you can. Pitch the hand now and cut your losses.

Opponents Hand His Equity
55%
60%
66%
70%
88%
97!%

You can see that against his range of hands you do terribly. I’d argue, also, that a tight player might not even raise the top pair and big straight draw (where he’s 60%), he could easily flat call it, so you can dimiss that hand some percentage of the time against some players. Similarly some people might just flat call top two pair in position waiting for a blank turn card before putting their money in. If we account for our opponent sometimes flat calling some of the hands on this list then our equity becomes even worse.

Let’s pretend he raises us with the set listed (or another made hand like a lower set or top two pair). You would be forgiven for thinking that we could call the raise, planning to fold if we don’t make our PLO draw but potentially win a big pot if we do. This thinking is flawed because we don’t know what times he’s raising with a set and what times he’s raising with a draw that crushes us. Because of this if we hit on the turn we cannot simply lead out for pot because if he has a set he’ll easily be able to fold and if he had a PLO draw that just hit he’ll shove and we’ll be drawing dead with a card to come most of the time. So say we hit and we check? Again if he hit a higher draw himself he’ll bet and we’ll feel obligated to put all our money in (otherwise, how can we justify calling the turn?) but if he has the two pair or the set he’ll often check back, then if the river pairs we’re again going to be a tough situation where we’ll probably end up losing lots of money and if it doesn’t pair we may or may not be able to squeeze a pot sized bet out of him… it’s certainly not guaranteed.

So a small percentage of the time we win a pot sized bet on the river and a large percentage of the time we lose the same amount or more. When you see how your equity stacks up against premium hands and premium PLO draws it’s easy to see why we should play our weak draws very cautiously; this is also a good illustration generally of the value of playing tight to raises: it allows you to often get the money in as a big favourite post-flop.

By studying what I’ve said here along with the equities listed it should already be obvious how much value there is in playing big PLO draws to the nuts or near-nuts. By putting yourself in your opponents shoes we can see that by having a tight calling range it allows him to get in lots of good situations. Spots where he can get it all in with his entire range as a big favourite against many of the pre-flop raiser’s possible holdings.

By seeing the value of getting away from weak PLO draws hopefully it will give you pause to consider different ways you could play draws like the one listed above and exactly why you should be folding in spots where it might feel intuitive to call at least one street.

Good luck at the tables!

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