Some Pre Flop Notes in PLO

This article is not a pre flop guide to Pot Limit Omaha (PLO). This article is to be used in addition to pre flop hand guides and will present a few random pre flop concepts seen in PLO. Some of the concepts presented in this article are: Limping Pre Flop, Smaller 3-bet sizing, and flat calling.

Note: All hand examples will be 100bbs and 6 max.

Limping Pre Flop

Never limping (especially open limping) in No Limit Holdem is generally standard practice in online cash games (live is a different story). In PLO, limping pre flop is much more common. This is due to a few factors:

Isolation Is Less Frequent- Assume an example in NLHE- Two weak players limp pre flop and BTN has QTo. This is generally a good spot to raise in BTN’s position. Typically, either one or both of the players will fold pre flop. If the player(s) call pre flop, the BTN will often take down the pot on many flops.

In a similar example in PLO: Two weak players limp pre flop and BTN has the BTN has As 6s 7c 9d. This hand is similar to the QTo in NLHE in that it has some potential, but overall, it is not a very strong hand. In PLO, the BTN would have a much lower chance of isolating the weaker players than NLHE simply because players are much looser pre flop. This results in BTN raising pre flop with a mediocre hand and many players (2-3+) flat calling. In this scenario, BTN typically has to hit the flop in order to continue, whereas in NLHE, he is facing fewer opponents and (generally) has more equity.

Hand Equity- Pre flop hand equity in NLH runs much farther apart than PLO hand equity does- meaning the strongest hand in PLO is only a slight favorite over 4 random cards (whereas AA is an 85% favorite vs. a random hand). Because of this, players often justify their loose calls and aim to flop lucky.

With this hand equity difference stated; in NLHE, a player can often continuation bet freely on the flop. Players only flop a pair ~1/3rd of the time, and calling with no pair and no draw is unlikely in most cases. In PLO, however, players almost always flop at least a gut shot and backdoor draws. Even hands with no pair and no draw can have 30% + equity against strong 1 pair hands on the flop.

In summation, limping pre flop is more acceptable in PLO. With that said, open limping should still typically be minimized in most situations (in live, open limping is acceptable). Over limping, however, is a perfectly acceptable practice in PLO, and one that is much more justified than in NLHE.

Smaller 3-bet Sizing in Position

This section will discuss the merits of 3-bet sizing in position in PLO.

Oftentimes the standard raise size in PLO is a pot sized raise. The basic logic behind this is that if a player has a strong hand (say, AAxx), he would like to maximize his equity edge as far as he can (since a player is almost certainly going to call the 3-bet for the reasons stated in the previous section).

3-Bet Sizing in Position and Out of Position- In a general poker sense, it is often better to 3-bet larger out of position than in position. The logic behind this is that the out of position player will lower the stack to pot ratio (SPR) by making the pot larger (with his larger pre flop 3-bet size). With a lower SPR, the out of position player will not have as much money behind on later streets, thus minimizing the positional advantage. The standard 3-bet sizing in PLO out of position is a pot sized re-raise.

In position, however, a player does not have to 3-bet as large. Say MP opens pre flop for 3.5xbb and the BTN has a hand he would like to 3-bet for value. Because of the positional advantage, it is in BTN’s favor to keep the SPR as large as possible. A standard re-raise in position may be 2.5x-3x the open.

In PLO, players will often have two responses to a 3-bet: They will either flat call (in or out of position regardless) or they will 4-bet pot (which generally means AAxx or other premiums). The primary difference in PLO and NLHE is that players often have enough equity to flat call a 4-bet in PLO, whereas in NLHE, 4-bets are rarely flat called (at least for 100bbs or less).

With that said, if a player 3-bets pre flop and he faces a 4-bet from his opponent, he knows that he will generally be calling (there are obvious exceptions). A smaller 3-bet sizing pre flop (other than pot) will enable a player to flat call a 4-bet at a cheaper price when he does (because his opponent will presumably be 4-betting to pot). And in 4-bet pots, the hands (generally) play themselves (in that a player will have ~1 pot sized bet left and either have enough equity to go with it or not).

In summary, when in position, a player should consider making his 3-bet sizing smaller. This is due to:

  1. Positional advantage and a larger SPR.
  2. Smaller 4-bets from opponents (which the 3-better will generally call in PLO).
  3. Smaller 3-bet sizing means that the play itself does not have to work as often in order to show profit. This is obviously beneficial.

Flat Calling PF in PLO

What type of range should a player be flat calling a raise with in PLO? This answer is fairly vague due to the initial checks (opponent type, position, stack sizes, and others). Aside from those differences, what is a general range that a player should be flat calling a raise with in multi-way pots in PLO?

Hand 1.0- UTG opens PF, the BTN calls, and SB flat calls (all else fold).

Big Pairs- This can mean QQxx, KKxx, and even AAxx in some circumstances. These hands are generally played for set value in most instances (unless the ‘xx’ are solid supporting cards, such as KKQT or QQJ9). Sometimes, not 3-betting AAxx can be excellent for deception value, as an opponent will not give you credit for having this hand due to your PF flat call (and no 3-bet).

Lower Value Rundowns and One Gappers- These are typically lower rundowns- hands such as 4567 or one gappers such as 9875 can be considered. These run downs are not premium hands (the premium rundowns are often double suited as well) – but they play well enough to flat call.

In multi-pot situations pre flop, one may be tempted to come along with any four cards. Although better odds may be offered (and thus a weaker hand range to justify a call), one must be careful when tagging along with weak to medium holdings multi-way. The threat of reverse implied odds and domination is very large, and redraws are a very big concern, even if a player flops the nuts. Hands such as suited aces and JT (which can make all nut flush draws and nut straights) are beneficial when facing multiple opponents.

In position, a player can obviously call with a lighter range. Because he is last to act, playing draws and other speculative hands is much easier post flop.

Heads up Pots-

Hand 2.0- UTG opens PF, all fold to the SB, who calls.

The overall range in heads up pots should be tighter in most cases. With one less player in the pot, hands such as big pairs should not necessarily be played just for set value. The obvious problem with playing big pairs is very similar to pairs in NLHE- these types of hands rarely improve past the flop and have very inelastic equity.

Similarly to NLHE, playing out of position as the non aggressor can be very difficult in PLO. Position is even more vital in PLO than NLHE, and flat calling pre flop raises can lead to difficult post flop decisions.

Closing Thoughts

Pot Limit Omaha is a very complex game and one that allows for little pre flop creativity. Because the equity runs so close, players are much looser and more willing to gamble in hopes to hit a lucky flop. Limping pre flop is a viable strategy that is necessary in many PLO games (specifically live games). Smaller 3 bets allow for a larger SPR and a smaller 4- bet size as well. And finally, flat calling pre flop in PLO is largely dependent on position and hand value, where reverse implied odds should always be present when playing weaker hands.