How to Beat Small Stakes PLO Games Online
Pot Limit Omaha is a clear 2nd of the different poker games when it comes to player numbers. This format can be a lot of fun, and can also be very profitable if you know what you are doing. Many opponents will come over from Texas Holdem tables, and make some big strategy mistakes to do with hand strengths, draws and betting. All of these can be exploited for your profit if you know what to look out for.
This page takes you through the basics of a solid Pot Limit Omaha poker strategy. I will assume that you already know the Pot Limit Omaha rules – and are looking to improve your returns.
Pot Limit Omaha Poker Strategy – Reassessing Hand Strengths and the Role of Draws
PLO is all about the big draws. In this game you can be dealt 4-card starting hands which end up flopping 21 outs, with flushes, wrap-around straights and even full houses all possible. If you are used to Texas Holdem, then the concept of ‘protecting’ a made hand against draws will probably be familiar to you. In Omaha, it is the strong draws which are favorite.
There is a misconception about high pair hands in Pot Limit Omaha. These are strong before the flop, and if you find an opponent willing to get the chips in before the board cards are dealt, then you will get the money in as a favorite.
What happens frequently in smaller buy-in Omaha cash games, and especially in tournaments, is that many hands are multi-way. With novice players thinking that a lot of combinations of their cards look good, a lot of people will call one bet before the flop.
Aces fare badly in multi-way pots without some form of back-up. This can take the form of a nut flush draw, high cards which can make nut straights or even another pair to make a set. If the pot is small and multi-way, your aces will likely not be the best hand by showdown if one or more players are willing to bet big.
In general, the hands shown down are much stronger in PLO. The 4 hole-cards gives each player 6 different combinations of the 2 cards they need to combine with 3 of the 5 community cards. If you are new to this game then you will need to be aware that paying to draw to non-nut hands can be a major mistake. There are spots to do this – these are generally situation and opponent specific, and you’ll pick them up as you gain more experience in the game.
Working out What Opponent’s Bets Mean
One of the quickest ways to improve in Pot Limit Omaha is to watch your opponents’ bets and take notes on what hands they had when you see a showdown.
A classic betting pattern to look out for is from players that play aces (and maybe kings) differently to most other hands. You’ll find tight players might limp in to pots or call a single raise with some hands, though will rarely raise. When they do bet, you can be fairly sure that their hand contains aces, and when they reraise preflop you can be almost certain this is what they have.
This can be a very profitable situation. You should call with any decent hand, especially one with cards which will work well with flops that look safe for aces. Mid-ranked connected and suited cards are ideal here.
If you miss the flop and face action, you fold, only having lost a few times the big blind. If you connect well with the flop, you can often build a big pot as a strong favorite. The type of player who waits for aces before raising will hate having to lay them down – take advantage of this.
This is not the only betting pattern to look for. Many players will use full pot bets for one thing, and half pot (or small) bets for another. Classic examples are those who bet full pot with made hands, fearing that draws will hit to beat them – and only half pot with draws. Once you know what their bets mean, you can adjust your own betting to exploit them. If you see a half pot on the turn, you can sometimes reraise pot to deny them the correct odds to draw.
Pot Limit Omaha Strategy – Starting Hands
While hands with aces or kings are strong, these are not the only ‘premium’ starting hands in PLO games. The concept to understand is that you need cards which work well together before you enter a pot. There are 3 parts to this, and if your hand has 2 or more, you can often find spots to play it.
#1 – Connectedness: If you have 4 cards which are close in rank, then you will be able to make a lot of different straights. Small gaps at the bottom are acceptable, gaps at the top end of your card ranks are more difficult to play.
#2 – Suitedness: Ideally, you want to see ‘double suited’ hands. This involves 2 cards of 2 suits. One of the strongest starting hands in PLO is ‘Double suited aces’, for example A-A-J-10 with 2 hearts and 2 diamonds can make 2 nut flushes, as well as straights. Note that if you have 3 of a suit, you are holding one of your own outs, since you can only use 2 cards from your own hand!
#3 – High Cards: All else being equal, you’ll prefer high cards and high pairs. When you hit a set, or make a full house, it is important that this is top set. Small pairs that make trips can lose big pots in Omaha, where hands shown down are much stronger than in Texas Holdem.
Putting it all together is ideal. If you have premium pairs, plus suits and connected cards, then you should be reraising big before the flop. This will not only help you get the money in while you are ahead, it will balance your starting hand range too. Betting a wide range of premium hands is a great disguise for when you do wake up with those aces!