You are here

PLO From Square One: Part VII - C-Betting in 3B Pots

PLO Small Image

In the previous part of this Pot Limit Omaha guide, we focused on continuation betting in single raised pots. These are very frequent spots as many hands in PLO go beyond preflop, and there is often a raise to kick things off. Thus, these situations deserve a lot of attention as they’ll play a big role in your overall win rate.

In this part of Pot Limit Omaha Poker From Square One, we’ll focus on 3-bet pots primarily in situations where you’re the one driving the action. We’ll look into how to best proceed in 3-bet pots in and out of position against single and multiple opponents, considering important factors in the decision-making process, such as the board texture.

PLO Guide - Cbetting in 3Bet Pots

Before we move on with this discussion, it is important to emphasize that 3-bet pots in Pot Limit Omaha require a lot of strategic thinking because these are large pots by their very nature. Playing well in these situations will improve your win rate, and conversely, mistakes in 3-bet pots can be very costly especially if you keep repeating them without even realizing it.

Playing from the Big Blind

Big Blind

One of the most common situations concerning 3-bet pots is where we 3-bet from the big blind instead of just calling. We’ve already talked about 3-betting in general and how to build our ranges, so we won’t talk about that particular aspect too much right now. You can check out Part IV of this series (3-Betting & Adjusting Your Strategies) for more on that topic.

An important thing to keep in mind is that when we decide to 3-bet against a single opener, we’ll be going to the flop a large percentage of the time. With the game being played in pot limit format and hand equities running much closer, calling the 3-bet is usually the correct play for our opponent.

While this will give us the betting initiative in the hand, you already know that this initiative isn’t quite as powerful as it is in No Limit Hold’em. Our decision on how to proceed on the flop and future streets will depend on the board texture and our equity in the hand as well as the perceived range of our opponent.

C-Betting vs. Checking: Important Considerations

When deciding whether to c-bet or check on the flop, we’ll have to consider how the flop texture fits the range of hands we’re likely to have in the situation and also how the opponent’s hand correlates with the board.

Things are much different in the big blind if we’re facing a UTG raise vs. when we’re dealing with a BTN open. The former will usually mean a strong range of hands (unless we’re against an absolute maniac) while a button raise can be (almost) any four cards.

So against the button or CO, we can proceed with a wider range of hands, even when they don’t connect with the flop too well, if the flop is one that should favor us. For example, a flop containing an Ace and another picture card is a good one to fire on against late position openers as you’re quite likely to connect well with that flop. On the other hand, the same texture against an early position opener isn’t too good to c-bet on as it won’t produce too many folds.

Let’s look at an example against a late position opener.

Blind Defense Good FlopHere, We Easily Have Enough Equity to Feel Confident in a C-Bet

As we can see, we have a huge range advantage in this spot against a perceived 70% range of a button opener. So on this board texture, we’re definitely going to want to c-bet and either take the hand down right now or look to improve on future streets. In this spot, we’re going to be so much ahead that a c-bet is mandatory.

Blind Defense Bad FlopThis Board Missed Us Almost Entirely and so Is a Good Candidate for Checking

If we change the board texture to include small cards without a flush opportunity, we see a huge change in equity. It is now our opponent who has the range advantage. Continuation betting in these situations usually won’t achieve much because we won’t get very many folds on the flop, and there are really no good cards to look forward to on the turn.

Of course, like many other things in poker, these situations are usually not quite this clear-cut. The main idea is that you should be able to recognize what boards seem to heavily favor your opponent when deciding whether to c-bet on the flop and base your decisions on these presumptions.

The range of 70% may seem high in a 3-bet pot, but once again, you won’t get nearly as many folds before the flop in PLO, meaning players will continue with a fairly wide range, only folding the very bottom part of their raising range. This is especially true for lower-stakes PLO games, which this guide is primarily aimed at.

Planning for Future Streets

Figuring out how the flop texture relates to our opponent’s hand is only a part of the equation. Since we don’t have the ability to see their exact hand, we’ll often get called in spots that seem to be favorable for us. Therefore, it is important to also have a strategy for future streets and to figure out when to continue barreling and when to give up the lead.

As a general rule of thumb, if your c-bet is called on the flop and you’re betting without equity, you should call it quits on the turn. The exception to this would be when the turn card suddenly brings your hand back to life and gives you a well-hidden draw to the nuts, like in this hand.

Hand With Many Backdoor PossibilitiesWe're Done After One Barrel Unless the Turn Really Help Us Out

We 3-bet a solid rundown and c-bet the A-high board. Obviously, our equity in this hand is quite poor but it is an OK board to try and represent a big hand. When our opponent calls the flop bet, though, we must proceed with caution.

To keep firing, we need to see a card that gives us some equity. A card like the 7s is an ideal example where we all of a sudden have an excellent draw that we might even get paid on if we hit. This allows us to keep barreling and putting pressure on our opponent, giving us multiple ways to win the pot. However, without any turned equity, mindlessly firing away against a range that will have us in trouble a large percentage of the time just doesn’t make sense.

Building a Check-Raise Range

Against more competent opponents who pay attention to what you’re doing, it is good to have several gears in 3-bet pots. If you’re going to check only when you don’t hit a favorable board, observant players will quickly pick up on it and will just win every time when you check to them. To counter this, you need to have some check-raise hands in your range as well.

The first and most obvious candidates are very strong hands, such as top set on a fairly dry board. These are spots where you can afford to check and potentially give a free card if they don’t take the bait.

The other solid group would be hands with a lot of backdoor potential. It makes sense to have some of these hands in your strong lines as you’ll want to give yourself a chance to win without a showdown. If that plan fails, however, you’ll still have plenty of equity to fall back on.

Hand With Enough Equity to x/r BluffThis Hand Has Enough Equity to Check-Raise as a Bluff

In a spot like this, for example, we’ve pretty much missed the flop, but we still have a lot of equity. There are many favorable turn cards that will give us straight and flush draws. Having some hands like this in our check-raise range in 3-bet pots will help balance out the situations where we check with the intention of giving up and will make it much harder to play against us.

Playing in Position

Dealer BTN

We’ve emphasized time and time again how position is a huge factor in Pot Limit Omaha. This concept applies to 3-bet pots as well. In fact, being in position as a 3-bettor is a significant advantage because we have much more maneuvering space. There isn’t much the opponent can do when they’re out of position in a 3-bet pot, so they’ll pretty much have to check and let us decide on how we want to proceed.

These are scenarios where we’ll be 3-betting from the cutoff or button against an early or middle position raise, so we have to keep that in mind when deciding on how different board textures play into their perceived ranges. Most players will be more likely to fold before the flop when faced with a 3-bet knowing they’ll be out of position for the remainder of the hand. That, combined with the fact they’re opening from earlier positions, will make their range on the flop much stronger than in the blind vs. button situations.

You can adhere to some of the advice from the previous part when it comes to c-betting on the flop, i.e., there is absolutely nothing wrong with checking on some board textures that are likely to hit your opponent. Peeling a free card to see if you can pick up some equity is perfectly fine in certain spots, and the power of position makes it so that there is very little the opponent can do to thwart you in your plans.

Checking Behind Example HandWe're Way Behind Range vs. Range Here, and so Checking and Seeing a Turn Is Reasonable

Let’s look at the spot in the image above. We decide to 3-bet against a hijack open with a fairly reasonable hand to do it with. The opponent calls, and we assign them a reasonable range of hands that they’re likely to continue with. Of course, different players will have different ranges in these spots, and your collected stats on their play can come in very handy, but this range is a fairly reasonable assumption.

We can see that against such a range and on this particular flop, we’re really miles behind. Expecting to get a fold with a single c-bet just isn’t realistic. This is a great example of where we can just check back and let another card fall. Depending on what the turn brings and if the opponent checks once again, we can consider a delayed continuation bet on the turn.

The point here is that although the flop may seem favorable to our hand, there isn’t really any need to bet on a pure bluff here. Occasionally checking back these types of textures when the flop misses you completely is perfectly reasonable.

Betting With Range AdvantageWe Have Enough Equity That We Can Comfortably C-Bet on This Board

In this example, we have a situation where both hands have similar equity on the flop. However, if the player is on the tighter side and you believe their 3-bet calling range doesn’t contain too many combos on the lower side of the spectrum, it becomes a good board to c-bet on. You can have many hands in your 3-bet range that correlate well with this flop texture, and you should have a range advantage against most players who you deem to be playing on the tighter side.

Barreling Turns and Rivers

Once your c-bet on the flop gets called, you’ll have to decide what you want to do on future streets. We can apply much of the same logic from the section on play from the big blind, but we’ll have much more freedom to make our decision being in position.

As a general rule of thumb, try to avoid going too crazy in these spots. Once we get called on the flop by an out-of-position player, we have to be very careful and figure they have some kind of hand or a strong draw. Most people just won’t continue to play with a weak hand in a bloated pot out of position.

If we are to select good candidates to barrel away without equity, these would be boards containing obvious draws that don’t get there. For example, if there is a heart flush draw on the board and it doesn’t come in on the turn, you can sometimes proceed to bet on the turn if the board is otherwise favorable to your range.

This is where blockers come into play. If you do not have any card of the same suit as a flush draw on the board, you can continue barreling even with a poor holding. If this is the case, your opponent will be more likely to have a draw than a made hand, because you do not block any of these combinations.

Similarly, when there is a drawy board but the turn pairs the board, especially with a low card, you can often continue betting and expect to win the pot a fair percentage of the time. Most people will give up on their straight and flush draws once the board pairs, and you’ll be able to win the hand without going to showdown.

Sizing Your Continuation Bets in 3-Bet Pots Correctly

Up/Down Arrows

Whether you’re playing in or out of position, properly sizing your continuation bets is an important skill for long-term success. As always, the idea is to risk the minimum needed to win the pot without being too transparent and making it easy for your opponents to figure out what you’re doing.

Some players like to smash the pot button for pretty much all actions in PLO, which isn’t necessarily a bad approach since your sizing is always the same and you’re certain you won’t be giving away any sizing tells along the way. However, in 3-bet pots, where the stack-to-pot ratio is often quite small already, you can have different, smaller sizings.

Once again, looking at the board texture can give you a good idea on how to size your continuation bet.

On drier flops, betting around half of the pot is probably perfectly fine as you aren’t really very concerned with trying to deny equity. Your opponents just aren’t too likely to be drawing on these kinds of textures so they’ll just proceed with their made hands. This is especially true when in position because most players won’t be thrilled to get too involved with a weak hand, such as second pair, just to try and catch up.

Wet boards are good candidates for bigger bets. Betting around the size of the pot on straighty and flushy boards makes sense as you’re telling the story of denying opponents their equity. The downside of this approach is that more aggressive players will be happy to jam over your c-bet with their good draws, forcing you to fold and costing you more money.

In PLO, you can even look at your opponent’s stats when deciding on how big you want to go with your c-bets. Against more aggressive players, you can choose a smaller sizing with your entire range so that you have enough hands in your range to call them down with when they do go for a check-raise.

Navigating Multi-Way Pots

Crowd of People

While you won't see many 3-bets cold-called in Hold’em, this isn’t necessarily true for PLO especially at lower levels. You’ll often 3-bet the original raiser and get a call from the big blind alongside the OR, so you’ll end up playing a 3-way pot.

From a continuation bet point of view, these are very tricky spots. First of all, it is hard to define the big blind’s range as their call really doesn’t say too much about their hand. Secondly, the original raiser is now getting great implied odds so they’ll pretty much have to call with their entire raising range.

Even though we have position, we won’t achieve much by betting when checked to us if we don’t have good equity. Continuation betting on boards that we didn’t connect with will hardly be profitable in the long run in these spots.

From our non-equity hands, we could select some hands with solid backdoor potential. I’d suggest smaller sizing in these spots, though, as you really don’t want to be investing too much money here. The only way to win in the spot is if our opponents have really missed the flop, in which case they’ll give up facing a small bet (under half pot). A bigger bet thus doesn’t achieve anything other than building a larger pot for the later streets.

Conclusion

Checkmark

Finding your way around in 3-bet pots is very important in Pot Limit Omaha as these are some of the biggest pots you’ll get to play. Thus, naturally, they will have a significant impact on your overall win rate in the long run.

In this article, we looked at some of the most important things to consider when deciding whether to c-bet on the flop after 3-betting pre and how to proceed on turns and rivers based on board textures, our opponents’ actions, and their general tendencies. While this is a very broad topic, it is important to get some of the fundamental things right to be able to further expand your knowledge.

One of the main takeaways is that when playing Pot Limit Omaha, you don’t have to c-bet as often as you would in Texas Hold’em since you won’t get that many folds. Carefully consider the board texture and how it correlates with your opponent’s perceived range before deciding. There is nothing wrong with skipping a c-bet in an unfavorable situation as long as you also have some good hands in your range that you’ll check some percentage of the time too.

In the end, it will take some experience and a fair deal of analyzing your play to become really good in these spots. However, with these basic guidelines, you should at least have a good idea of where to start and what things to pay attention to when performing the analysis.

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 top poker tips, master different game formats, or read interesting articles - visit his website and also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.