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Top 10 Pot Limit Omaha poker strategy tips

12 Aug 2019

By Tadas Peckaitis
Pot Limit Omaha, better known as PLO for short, has been growing in popularity over the past few years. Featuring similar rules to Texas Hold’em but adding more strategic elements and more excitement, PLO is an excellent choice for players looking for something new that they don’t actually have to learn from scratch.

However, many new players make a mistake of thinking that knowing how to play Hold’em will be enough to also do well in Omaha. They are two very different games, despite superficial similarities, and it takes a much more than going to Reddit poker or forums to actually become good at PLO. In this article, we’re bringing you 10 top PLO tips, which should help improve your game, especially if you’re just starting out.

In Pot Limit Omaha, having position over your opponents is infinitely more important than in Texas Hold'em.

In Pot Limit Omaha, having position over your opponents is infinitely more important than in Texas Hold'em. (photo by Flickr)

10. Position, position, position
Yes – position. In Pot Limit Omaha, having position over your opponents is infinitely more important than in Texas Hold’em. Some hands that are quite playable in position become easy folds out of position – and vice versa. So, every time you’re considering playing a hand in PLO, first think about whether you’ll have position and, if not, what you could do to change it (by raising or three-betting, for example, to get players behind you to fold).

9. Be very careful with your starting hands selection
Just because you are dealt four cards, it doesn’t mean you should play a bunch of hands in PLO. In fact, preflop poker hand selection may be even more important than in Hold’em, even though it is often said that PLO is a flop game. The thing is, you want to get involved with the type of hands that play well post-flop, which means playing hands that have a potential to make the nuts and don’t have bad reversed implied odds.

8. Understand that hand equities run much closer
Because everyone gets four cards to start with, starting hand equities run much closer in PLO. This means that you should be very selective about piling chips into the middle before the flop. While you can still be confident with your AAxx type of hands, as these will still be a decent statistical favorite, other hands, such as pocket kings or queens, should be played much more conservatively. If you face a lot of heat before the flop, it will often be against hands that have you in trouble.

7. Tread lightly in multi-way pots
In PLO, many hands go multi-way, with more than two players seeing a flop. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for three, four or even five players to get to the flop, especially in lower-stakes games. In these situations, you have to be very careful, especially if you’re out of position. As a general rule of thumb, if you don’t have the nuts or a good draw to the nuts, you should be getting out if there is a lot of action in front of you. Seemingly strong but non-nut hands will often cost you a lot of money in these spots.

6. Don’t overvalue your draws
Inexperienced players have a tendency to overvalue fairly weak draws in PLO. For example, a naked flush draw is still a naked flush draw in Omaha, and you shouldn’t be going crazy with it. You’ll often have some additional draws or backdoors as a backup in these spots, but you need to be realistic about them and avoid piling chips when you know you’re behind.

5. Protect your equity
There will be situations where you know you’re ahead, but the board is draw-heavy and there are other players showing interest. For example, you could have a top set on an A-6-7 board with two hearts. You shouldn’t avoid raising and piling a lot of money in the middle in these situations to deny your opponents’ equity and at the same time protect your hand. While this will increase the variance, it will be profitable in the long run. Just like ICM poker strategy for tournaments, here you just have to follow the math.

4. Be mindful about getting “freerolled”
There will also be spots where you have the nuts but little or no chance of improving. If you bet and get raised in these spots, there isn’t much incentive of going crazy with your hand. You’ll often find yourself in a spot where your opponent has the same hand but also a draw to a better one (like a flush or a higher straight). So, if you get your chips in the middle, you might find yourself getting “freerolled,” meaning that at best you’ll get half the pot and, at worst, lose the entire thing, without an actual chance of winning yourself.

3. Avoid three-bet bluffing out of position
You don’t want to get too involved in PLO hands out of position in general, but three-betting as a bluff out of position is often a sure way to bust town. People are less likely to fold before the flop to your three-bets, especially when in position, so you’ll get yourself in spots where you’re playing a bloated pot, with no information, and with a weak hand. These three reasons should pretty much be all the explanation you need on why you should avoid such spots.

It's easier to make up your mind if the pot isn’t too bloated.

It's easier to make up your mind if the pot isn’t too bloated. (photo by Pixabay)

2. Exercise pot control in tricky spots
Tricky spots are something you won’t be able to avoid in PLO. Sometimes, you’ll have a good hand but you won’t be certain if you have the winner, or there are simply so many bad cards on the turn or the river that you’ll have to face another tough decision almost always. In these spots, you’re best off exercising some pot control by taking the call line, even when in position and especially when out of position. It will be easier to make up your mind if the pot isn’t too bloated.

1. Get used to variance
As the final piece of advice, if you want to play PLO online, or crush live poker games, get used to variance – and a lot of it. It is a volatile game, even when you’re significantly better than the competition. There will be some swings along the way and you simply have to accept them. Focus on making the best decision in every single hand you’re involved with, make sure you’re properly rolled for the stakes you play, and don’t worry too much about short-term variance.
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