25 essential tips to immediately improve your PLO strategy
In part one of this guide we began counting down the top tips to improving your PLO strategy, here in part two I’ll continue to share some of the secrets that helped turn me from a losing Omaha player into a proven winner:
Don’t get attached to AAxx
Probably the number one mistake players making the transition from No Limit Hold Em to Pot Limit Omaha make is overplaying AAxx hands. It’s an understandable problem because of how strong AA is in NLH it’s natural to get overly excited when you pick up AAxx in PLO, the only problem is that in PLO it’s a much weaker, more vulnerable hand.
Let’s say you get dealt the following in a six handed cash game in the CO position (CO = Cut off or the position one place from the button) :
You excitedly raise the size of the pot and just the button calls. The flop falls:
Still happy with your hand you bet 3/4 the size of the pot which happens to be $5 your opponent thinks for a while and raises you to $18…
This is a spot where unless the raiser is a noted maniac (incredibly bad) you should fold to this single raise. This can be very hard for people to do when they first transition to PLO because they feel like their AAK4 is still a strong hand whereas in reality it is not. When you get raised on a board like this you are very likely drawing close to dead against a flopped straight. If your opponent is semi-bluffing with a pair + a flush draw you’re actually a significant equity underdog if you get your money in.
The same goes if you 3bet AAxx, you have to be prepared to get away from certain flops. For example with the AAK4 hand above it would be more profitable to check fold after 3betting than it would to bet and call off your stack to a raise on the following boards:
The basic lesson, which I go into in more detail elsewhere on the site, is not to think only of your AAxx on its own but rahter always think to yourself: what could my opponent have to make that bet or raise on that board and how does my hand compare to that range of possible holdings? If you ask yourself this question as often as possible you’ll make much better decisions when dealing with the tricky AAxx as well any other poker situation.
Don’t pay off when you know you’re beat
This is one of those tips that’s a lot easier said than done. Even the best players can sometimes make crying calls against their better judgement. As a general rule if your gut is telling you strongly “I know I’m beat” you probably are. It takes discipline and emotional control to make the correct fold when you were holding the nuts on the turn and the flush card just hit the river. This is even more true in PLO than NLHE because these types of situations come up far more often. In some situations it won’t even be close–it’s a clear fold–and if you’re not folding in these spots you will lose money.
Here’s an example of the type of situation I’m talking about. You’re on the button in a $0.50/$1.00 game and you are dealt the following:
You raise pot which is $3.50 and the villain in the BB calls. The pot is now ($7.00) and the flop falls:
You’ve flopped the nuts with top set, its’ checked to you and you fire a pot sized bet of $7, your opponent quickly calls. The pot is now ($21.00) and the turn card falls:
Again your opponent checks and again you bet the pot, $21. He calls. The pot is now ($63.00) the river is:
Your passive check/caller suddenly becomes the aggressor, firing a $48 bet. The pot is now ($111.00) and it costs you $48 to call, what should you do?
FOLD! This is a situation where you are almost always beat. If your opponent had a lower set or a top two pair kind of a hand he would almost always check/raise the flop or turn and if he chose to slowplay those hands he will never fire so strongly on this river. The nine of diamonds completes the flush draw which is his most likely holding but it also completes any straight draws he called the flop with. In this situation you are probably good less than 10% of the time if the villain is just your average player.
Even though calling here is unprofitable and I’m sure many of you reading this already know that to be the case it needs to be stated anyway because in the moment it can be hard to let go of what was the stone cold nuts on the turn. Thoughts of anger can push you into making bad decisions and it’s these clear cut folds in big pots that could be the difference between a positive win rate and a negative one. In short: When you feel like you’re beat. Fold!