Playing A Full House In PLO

For players new to Pot Limit Omaha Poker a full house can seem invincible – these individuals only find out when it is too late that a full house can sometimes be a very dangerous hand in PLO… in particular the ‘Underfull’.

The underfull refers to the small end of a full house. The classic example would be a flop of QQ7 while you are holding a pair of 7’s. The chances are fairly good that you have the best hand on the flop – but if the money is deep enough you’ll only ever find yourself all-in on the river with an opponent holding Queens-full by the time you reach the river…

Deep-stacked play, pot-limit betting and 4 hole-cards make PLO a fascinating and enjoyable game. These same factors make holding an underfull house hand dangerous. We will examine them one at a time:

Deep Stacks And Full Houses In Pot Limit Omaha Poker

Stacks of 100 times the blinds or more add a level of complexity to Omaha Poker which results in the skill edge in this form of the game being more significant than in other poker variations. We need to consider that you can not have a full-house unless the board is paired. The key point here is that your opponents can see the board is paired – which then leads to the question of what kind of hand a thinking player would need to hold in order call a very large river bet?

Of course, many players at the lower levels would do this with trips or a flush – but most of the time it takes a full-house to call your bet. If you have an underfull such as the one in our example then the only full house that would be likely to call you contains a queen and another card.

Obviously this is highly opponent dependant – some forethought is required though, after all – why make a bet that will only be called by a better hand?

Pot Limit Betting And Full Houses In Pot Limit Omaha Poker

The Pot-Limit betting structure in the play of Full houses is actually related to the discussion on deep-stacks above. The point here is that it is not always possible to get your stack into the middle with one (or often even 2) pot-sized bets. The only time this is likely to happen on the flop is with an opponent who is willing to raise and re-raise more than once.

When your opponent has top trips (your best case scenario) then you are 58% to 42% favorite with an under-full house and should be happy to get the money in on the flop. Pot limit betting ensures that you are suffering from ‘reverse implied odds’ to some extent. That is to say that those times your opponent does not improve you will win some decent bets but not their whole stack… however those times your opponent does improve they will likely win your entire stack!

4 Hole-Cards And Full Houses In Pot Limit Omaha Poker

Finally a look at the odds when you make your small full house on the flop, or hit a draw on the flop and turn against an opponent with top trips.

You: 8-8-10-Q
Opponent: A-K-J-9
Flop #1: K-K-8

Here you are 58% favorite when the money goes in on the flop. If the turn card is ‘safe’ (for example a 2 here) then your winning chances improve to 75% for the river!
Flop #2: K-A-8
With a set of 8’s against top 2 pairs (unsuited, so no flush draws) you are a healthy 78% favorite, here your opponent only has 4 outs to re-draw with (the 2 remaining aces and 2 remaining kings).
Flop #3 – K-A-8 (2 hearts)
Looking at the same flop again but this time giving your opponent a flush draw to go with the top 2 pair has a big effect. Your set is 51% favorite only on this flop – note that the killer cards for the flush on the flop give your opponent a higher full house. A safe turn (again a 2 in our example) improve your odds dramatically – making you a 75% to 25% favorite.

Full Houses In Pot-Limit Omaha Poker – Final Thoughts

Underfulls are dangerous hands when indiscriminately playing them for your whole stack – they are also powerful holdings against the right opponent. Our conclusion here is that the real problem starts before the flop, playing the small pairs that go on to become vulnerable full-houses.

There are, however, many times when an underfull can be played very strongly.

  1. Against weaker opponents, particularly those likely to think that over-pairs or trips are stronger than they really are (new Texas Holdem converts to Omaha often fit this profile)
  2. In an Omaha Poker Tournament where both you and your opponent are under pressure to build a dangerous chip stack for the final stages.
  3. Played In Position, particularly when opponents have not shown any strength before or on the flop.