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Pot Limit Omaha From Square One - Part V: Postflop Play & Planning

PLO Icon

In the previous parts of this PLO guide, we focused primarily on preflop play, covering basic hand selection, various categories of hands based on their strength and playability, single-raised pots as well as some 3-bet and 4-bet situations. Now, it is time to move to an equally important, if not even more important, segment of the game – play from the flop and beyond.

We’ve said time and time again throughout this series that Pot Limit Omaha is largely a postflop game. Due to the fact that there are more playable hands, preflop equities run much closer in general, and the game being pot limit, which makes it hard to force opponents out, there are many more hands that go to the flop and beyond.

Ignoring this fact would be a completely wrong approach. You can’t expect other players to adjust to your preferences. Instead, you have to realize that one of the key ingredients to becoming a successful PLO player will be learning to navigate postflop situations and make the best possible decisions in often very tough and marginal spots.

The first step in this process is planning, and this part of our PLO series will be more theoretical in nature. It will tackle the way you should be thinking about hands in terms of your position at the table and the likely number of opponents you’re going to face after the flop. Some of the concepts covered here have already been mentioned in earlier parts, so you’ll already have a pretty good idea about why the ideas discussed in this article make sense and how they tie in with your overall PLO strategy.

Postflop Planning Primer for PLO

Decision-making Basics: Don’t Over-complicate Things

The Thinker Statue

The very first thing we need to discuss within this concept has to do with some basic decision-making. New players often tend to make their lives harder by not properly valuing their hands before the flop. We’ve covered all of this extensively in the earlier parts of this series, so we won’t be going over them again here.

However, it is important to emphasize that some decisions really are black and white. There are hands that we’ve categorized as “trash hands,” and these are hands that you should play exactly 0 percent of the time. Don’t complicate things by getting involved just because you’re on the button or have the “right” odds. This is a sure way to get in trouble on the flop and later streets.

Unplayable hands are called that for a good reason – they are very weak hands that just don’t play well in any scenario: in position, out of position, with short stacks or deep stacks. There is no way to play these hands profitably, and you don’t need to come up with new ideas on how to incorporate them into your repertoire. Simply fold them and move on.

The Gray Area: When Things Aren’t as Clear Cut

Of course, most hands in PLO don’t belong to either extreme. Many hands you’re dealt will belong to what Tommy Angelo, a poker player and coach, calls the “gray area.” These are spots where you can pick any of two, three, or more options available to you. In these situations, it is very hard to say what the best way to proceed is.

PLO High Pair Hand

The above hand is a good example of a “gray zone” hand. This is definitely not a particularly strong hand, but it isn’t a completely trashy one either. So we can go either way with it from UTG. It has some playability for sure, and a good player can undoubtedly come in for a raise if the table conditions are right.

This is exactly what this part of our PLO Series focuses on. Some decisions are clear cut – you fold your trash hands; you raise and 3-bet your premiums. But when you’re faced with a more marginal decision, you need to account for other factors – such as your position, the other players’ tendencies, and the number of opponents still left to act. Sometimes, these factors aren’t as tangible and are hard to pinpoint, but online players can take advantage of tracking software stats to help them better understand just what to expect.

Table Awareness as a Key to Success in PLO

Binoculars

In the previous parts, we talked about how important having position is in Pot Limit Omaha. It gives you control of the pot, makes your decisions much easier, and complicates things for your opponents as it is much harder for them to bluff or bet for value without any solid information about the strength of your hand.

You need to keep all these things in mind when planning for a hand you’re going to play. We know that some hands play better multi-way, for example, while others perform much better heads-up. All of this is theory though. You can’t always get your ideal scenario, and you shouldn’t hope for it just because it would make sense for the other players to fold after you 3-bet.

Instead, you need to be aware of your table and your opponents’ tendencies and plan your play accordingly. Let’s look at an example of a hand that you could play either way where you should make your decision based on what you expect to happen when you take your action.

KK75s in PLO

You’re dealt K-K-5-7, single-suited, in the big blind. The hijack opens and then the cutoff and the dealer both call. You have a hand that you could 3-bet with to thin the field and try to play heads up. However, you’re definitely going to be out of position, and if the hijack and the dealer are unlikely to fold (based on their stats or your general observations), raising achieves very little and can actually be counter-productive.

If you’re going to have to play this hand OOP against two or three opponents, bloating the pot doesn’t work in your favor. Your opponents will be faced with fairly easy decisions on the flop while you’ll have absolutely zero information about their holdings and will have to act first. So, flat-calling and seeing the flop works much better in this particular scenario.

You’re even disguising the strength of your hand somewhat, so when you flop a set of kings, for example, you’re way more likely to get paid by an opponent flopping an under-set. Had you raised before the flop, they’d have much more information about your hand and could potentially get away or proceed only with hands that are likely to beat you.

Of course, being up against three players is rarely an ideal scenario in PLO, but you can’t force things. If you’re at the kind of table where this is a common occurrence, you simply have to adjust to the situation and structure your play accordingly. This means staying cautious after the flop and being very careful with hands that aren’t the absolute nuts especially when facing aggression.

Handling Multi-way Pots for Superb Results

Crowd

When playing at a table where many hands are likely to go multi-way, you should plan your play in a way so that you'll be in position after the flop as often as possible. This means expanding your range from the button somewhat as this will benefit you in the long run. Seeing a cheap flop in position will give you the chance to dictate the action when you hit big or get away cheaply if the flop isn’t particularly favorable.

However, part of your planning needs to include the idea of aggression on board textures where you may not have the nuts but have a huge draw and want to put maximum pressure on your opponents. You need to be heading into these situations prepared to put your stack on the line if you’re the one forcing the action. This will give you a chance to win the pot right then and there or go to showdown with a hand that has a lot of potential to improve into a winner.

Let’s consider this situation:

PLO Big Draw Equity Simulation

We’re up against two very strong hands – one player has a set of Jacks and another one has a set of Sevens with an additional over-pair. As you can see, we are actually a statistical favorite against the field, so in terms of pure numbers, we’d want this situation to happen over and over again as we’d be making heaps of money even though we don’t have a strong hand at the moment. Of course, this is partially due to the fact that the two other players are blocking each other’s outs, but it demonstrates the power of a big draw in position, which we’ve already talked about somewhat.

On the other hand, if our opponents have weaker hands, like two pair or top pair with a backdoor flush draw, they’re likely to give up once you raise on the button. It is very hard for them to know if they’re up against a big draw or a made hand, and, either way, they’ll have a hard time navigating the pot on the turn and the river being out of position and not knowing what cards are good for them.

This is a very important thing to consider when planning for multi-way pots. Sometimes, you’ll need to put the pedal to the metal and force the issue. By putting your opponents in a difficult spot, you’ll give yourself the best chances of winning, and you’ll be very hard to play against.

With hands like good wraps, you don’t really care about the number of players in the hand because you’ll often be drawing to the absolute nuts. Even if the whole table is involved, you’ll have more than enough playability to get to the river one way or the other.

Avoiding Trouble Hands in Multi-way Pots OOP

Exclamation Point

By the same token, you need to avoid trouble hands when you know you’ll be out of position and in a multi-way pot. We’re primarily talking about hands that can flop fairly well but don’t have much chance to improve further. While these hands are usually OK to take against a single opponent (in a big blind vs. button scenario, for example), they are very difficult to play in multi-way pots against several opponents.

For example, let’s look at a hand like 6-6-4-4, single-suited. You’re in the big blind, and there is a raise and two callers.

You’re getting good odds to try and hit one of your sets, but it is very difficult to get much value with this hand out of position and actually have the winner by the river. You’ll almost never have top set, and as you go to the later streets of play, there will likely be many potential straights and flushes coming in, making it impossible to play the hand correctly.

While it may seem counter-intuitive, sometimes it is best to give up hands like this before the flop if you know you’ll have to face multiple opponents across multiple streets. You’ll almost never really be comfortable when you bet and get two callers. Even if you flop a set, you’ll have to guess if your opponents are on a draw of some kind, have a better set, have some kind of a two pair + draw combo, et cetera.

This aspect has more to do with playability than the math as such. It’s not so much the issue that you won’t have the best hand often enough when you flop the set but more that you’ll have a lot of problems realizing value when you’re ahead as well as protecting yourself from being bluffed or taken to value town by better hands. In fact, this is one of the concepts that many of those new to Pot Limit Omaha struggle with the most because they feel frustrated when they should fold but are getting such a good price to set-mine. While this line of thinking isn’t really wrong and is even mathematically sound, the level of complications these hands can sometimes create is often not worth it.

Of course, more experienced players can afford to get themselves in more spots like these because they’ll have a better overall feel for where they are in the hand and will be more capable of folding their hand when it is clear they’re beat. For those new to the game, however, trying to avoid these situations as much as possible is probably the right way to go.

Conclusion

Fountain Pen

As already explained, this particular part of our Pot Limit Omaha Series dealt more with some general ideas concerning postflop play. In the following issues, we’ll look into more specific spots, such as continuation betting in single-raised and 3-bet pots as well as playing as a caller, which will shed more light on some of these general concepts.

For the time being, it is important to keep in mind that you should always plan for each hand ahead of time and try to extrapolate the kind of situation that you’re likely to face in terms of position and the number of opponents involved. These are very important factors for anyone playing PLO that can help you decide when you should prefer calling over raising or giving up your hand even if the immediate odds seem too good to pass up.

Photo of Tadas Peckaitis

Tadas Peckaitis is a professional poker player, author of the free book “Formula for Poker Success,” and founder of MyPokerCoaching.com. He may be a coach, but he wisely strives to improve his poker game every single day to not only better his results but to have a greater wealth of knowledge to share with his students, on his website, in his books, and in exhaustive guides such as the one you have just read - Pot Limit Omaha!

If you want to find best poker coaching, master different game formats, or simply read interesting articles - visit his website and also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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