Part 5 of this ongoing Pot Limit Omaha Guide
Congratulations for reaching part 5 of this Pot Limit Omaha guide that I’ve divided into “tips” that you can quickly pick up and take with you to the tables. In my experience the best way to learn anything is to take one new idea at a time and then apply it in a practical situation. By immediately testing out and using an idea or concept before coming back to continue reading you will be much more likely to internalise the lesson and remember it. You should, ideally, divide your poker time up roughly 75% playing and 25% studying. Anyway, onwards to tip number 10:
Draw to the nuts
It’s extremely important in PLO to make sure that if you’re putting a lot of money into the pot while drawing that what you’re drawing to is either the nuts or very close to it. A huge mistake this Pot Limit Omaha Guide should help correct is calling big bets with draws to low flushes or the bad end of a straight draw. When you do this you are usually going to get into a situation where you have negative implied odds. Usually in No-Limit Hold-em when we are calculating if we can call a bet with our draw we will factor in our “implied odds” which means the amount we expect to make if we hit one of our outs. In PLO, however, you’ll often be in a situation where you think you’re rooting for a third diamond to make your flush but actually hitting your card will actually cause you to lose more money than if you’d missed entirely.
Why is this the case? Well because often your opponent will be betting with a draw himself and if your draw isn’t to the nuts his often will be. Often times when he’s betting an actual hand and a flush or an obvious straight hits on the river you won’t make any money anyway, but the times he was betting a draw you can end up paying off a big pot sized bet and be shown a higher flush, straight or full house.
In general don’t overvalue draws to non-nut hands. They aren’t nearly as strong as they look. Similarly be careful about stacking off on the flop with what looks like a big draw if the big draw is to 2nd best straights or flushes. The trouble with doing this is you’ll usually be either flipping against a set or two pair or a massive underdog to somebody drawing to a higher straight+flush.
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Rarely draw to straights on flush draw boards
In a similar vein to the last tip in this Pot Limit Omaha guide, it’s important to recognise that calling bets with straight draws, especially out of position, is usually a losing play if there is a flush draw on the board as well. Not only does this mean you have less “clean outs” (outs that will give you the nuts) it also leads to one of those “negative implied odds” situations. Often times you think you’re rooting for the straight but when it comes it ends up giving your opponent the flush at the same time. Psychologically it’s then very hard to let go of your hand to a big bet because you actually made the straight you were calling to hit. Save yourself the trouble and try to limit the amount you’ll put in the pot with one of these draws.
The exceptions to this are when you have a big straight draw and you’re just calling a small flop bet. Here, if you’re in position, you can call once with the hope of hitting a clean out. The big mistake is calling the big turn bet that you’ll often face. The size of the bet together with your negative implied odds makes calling almost always incorrect. Implement common sense with this one, as exceptions can be made, but always keep it firmly in the back of your mind.
You don’t always need to bet pot
In most situations, especially at the lower stakes, betting pot with your big draws or your value hands is the optimal path to take, that said, however, there are some situations where it pays to vary your bet sizing. Here are a few flops where betting 1/2 or 2/3 pot with both your bluffs and your value hands can be a good idea:
What all these flops have in common is that when you bet your opponent is rarely going to be drawing to anything. He’ll either have a hand he can continue with or he won’t. Similarly your bet will be polarised to either a strong hand or something that cannot stand a checkraise. Because of this betting half pot or two thirds pot can be an effective strategy to not only make your bluffs cheaper (he’s either calling or he’s not) but can also lead your opponent to attempt to checkraise you as a bluff which can be very profitable if you have flopped a big hand and will allow you to get away cheaply if you haven’t.
Just remember, unless you’re facing off against a bad unobservant player or someone you’ve never played with before, keep your bet sizing consistent. If you flop a flush and you bet 2/3 with it, make sure you bet 2/3 when you’re making your standard continuation bet with nothing as well. This ensures nobody can get a read on you based on how much you bet, which is a mistake many bad players make which you can take advantage of. This Pot Limit Omaha guide continues on the next page.