Playing After The Flop

After reading our Beginner’s PLO Pre-flop Strategy Guide you have (hopefully) found yourself in good position, playing a quality PLO starting hand with a reasonably small pot – what now??
Pot-limit Omaha is a game of draws, re-draws and nut hands. This beginner’s guide to playing PLO after the flop will help you navigate through the basic decision making processes, and to avoid those expensive mistakes that many players new to this game will make.

The starting point for playing on the flop is the ‘texture’ of those community cards – how well they coordinate and the likelihood of them having hit you and / or your opponents. Accurately assessing your draws, outs and chances of ‘drawing dead’ is a skill that goes with this. Next we look at your opponents, the number of them, their tendencies and whether they or you took the betting lead before the flop – and from what position. Finally we bring these areas together with some ‘ post-flop Omaha rules of thumb’ to use while you build some experience at the tables.

The Texture Of The Flop

We will start looking at flop texture by comparing two contrasting Omaha flops. The first is 8-9-10 with 2 of a suit and the second is 2-8-K with 3 different suits. Good post flop play in Omaha involves quickly assessing the likelihood that any flop helped your opponents. For the sake of illustration imagine that you have A-A-x-x (4 suits) in both situations and are deciding whether to bet.

Flop 1: 8-9-10 (2 of a suit), ouch, in the unlikely event that none of your opponents already have a straight then there are likely to be many combination draws against you. In fact with 2 or more opponents you might as well fold those bare aces right now. Here almost every card in the deck has the opportunity to make a nut hand against you.

Flop 2: 2-8-K (3 suits). Conversely this is a very ‘raggy’ flop. There are no flush or straight draws which can be made on the turn and 2 low cards which are less likely to have made a set. The only real dangers are trip kings (if your opponents did not raise before the flop this is less likely, especially at the lower buy-ins) or a 2-pair hand. Here you would feel more confident betting out with your aces. If you encounter resistance then you will have to start considering that unlikely 2-pair or low set may be in your opponent’s hand after all.

Of course, most flops will be in between these two extremes. The general point is that some flops will help the likely holdings of opponents more than others. The betting before the flop can often give you information about the kind of hands you are up against – for example aggressive raising and re-raising is often a high pair / broadway (picture cards) straight combination – a low flop is less likely to hit these hands. In multi-way pot after the flop then almost any flop that completes straight draws or flushes is very dangerous indeed.

Paired flops should also set alarm bells ringing in pot-limit Omaha. Unless you have flopped a full house or at least trips then you can not call a bet on a paired flop. You should hardly ever chase straights or flushes in these circumstances – there is too much risk that you will hit your hand only to find out that it is second best. Paired flops (or a pair on a later street) can sometimes make good bluffing opportunities. See our article on Bluffing In Pot-Limit Omaha Poker for more information on this topic.

Assessing Your Outs

In Omaha it is common for a strong draw with many outs to straights and flushes to be a favorite over an already made hand. It is therefore important to quickly assess the ‘outs’ you have using the 2 from your hand / 3 from the board combinations. A good practice is to divide the cards that might come on the turn or river into categories – for example:

‘Nut Outs’: These cards will make you a nut hand, the highest possible straight, the best flush or the highest full house.

‘Outs’: Cards which will make you a very strong hand and one that is fairly likely to be the best at the table.

‘Help’: Cards which might come on the turn which give you a number of further outs on the river. For example if you have a straight and 2 hearts then a further heart on the turn could give you an additional draw to a flush on the river.

‘Killer Outs’: Cards which will make you a hand which can not be beaten, for example the highest straight flush or highest quads.

A good rule of thumb here is that, with 15 outs to a nut-hand you are a favorite against any made hand you are up against before the turn is dealt. If you can get all your chips in the pot at this point then you will win money over time.

Note: Whether this is the best play in fact depends on many factors, there may be alternative ‘lines’ which are more profitable over time.

In our Common Omaha Hand Match-Ups article we go into more detail on assessing your outs and chances of your drawing hand beating a made hand (or vice-versa, as you will hold the made hand on many occasions).

When facing big bets after the flop it is important that you assess your likelihood of winning the hand if you do make the draw you are chasing. Drawing to a non-nut hand is one of the most expensive errors in pot-limit Omaha, and should only be considered against a single opponent who is known to be aggressive. Betting your draw may in fact be a better option – this gives you extra chances to win the pot if your opponent should fold.

Post-Flop Omaha Strategy – Your Opponents

There are multiple factors to consider when looking at the role that your opponents play in pot-limit Omaha post flop play.

  1. The number of players who saw the flop: Here is a good trick to use, each player who sees the flop will have 6 possible combinations of 2 cards in their hand – picture this in a Texas Holdem game. Against 1 opponent you are facing 6 possible Holdem hands, 2 would mean 12 and so on. Against 5 opponents you are potentially facing 30 combinations of 2 cards. Picturing this scenario should help you realize why you should only ever draw to the nuts in PLO!!
  2. The Tendencies Of Your Opponents: There are extremes of players who will only ever bet with the nuts after the flop, calling stations who will call all the way with non-nut hands and the aggressive types who will raise and re-raise. Watching your opponents is key in pot-limit Omaha and will help you make good decisions. For example if you face a raise from a tight player you may fold a hand that would have made a good re-raising candidate against a wild and loose opponent. Your chances of being paid-off should you make a nut hand also need to be factored in. If you see a player calling a very large bet with a questionable holding then make a note – this could be a source of profit at some point in the future.
  3. Your Position Relative To Opponents: Where you sit in the betting order after the flop will have a big impact on how you play a hand. The dealer button is the best position as you will see the actions of all your opponents before you need to make a decision. However, if there is a raise from a player to your immediate right – and other players still in the hand – you may be in a ‘sandwich’ between the bettor and the other players. This means that your position is in fact not good and you need to be cautious not to get caught in a ‘raising war’.
  4. Who Took The Lead In The Betting Pre-Flop? The most likely candidate for betting after the flop is the player who put in the last raise before the flop was dealt. Whether you choose to continuation bet depends on a number of factors – including the number of opponents, texture of the flop and a number of the other things mentioned right here. If someone else took the lead pre-flop and you hit a monster hand you will need to decide whether to check in order to let them bet (in which case you can check-raise or call depending on how strong your hand is), or whether to lead out in the hope of a re-raise.

It is in fact the combination of many factors which determine the best play post-flop. As you gain more experience at the tables you will quickly see how these fit together.

Beginners Rules Of Thumb

There are many things to think about in pot-limit Omaha post-flop play, the preceding discussion has introduced many things to think about. These can be boiled down into some easy to remember rules of thumb.

  • Always Look At The Flop In Terms Of How It Might Have Helped Your Opponents Likely Hands (Flop Texture)
  • Draw Only To The Strongest Possible Hands
  • Work Out Your Outs When Considering Calling Bets Post-Flop, Are They Nut Outs?
  • Play From Good Position Where Possible, If You Are Not On The Button Then Make Sure You Are Not In A Sandwich.
  • Be Aware Of Opponent Tendencies, Who Will Pay You Off Easily And Who Will Bet Without A Hand?

Once you have the basic strategy you are ready to hit the tables, before you do so make sure know where to find the most profitable games -. read our Best Omaha Poker Sites guide for more information on this important area.