If you haven’t checked out my What makes a good PLO player? article yet I suggest you read that before continuing. There’s lots of PLO leaks that are very, very common but hard to spot unless you know to look for them. Until July I think I was down something ridiculous like 40 buyins at 5/10 plo (all due to run bad of course, when has a poker player ever admitted to losing an huge amount of $$ due to poor play over extended periods of time) which I believe was mainly due to leaks I didn’t know I had and poor game selection. It’s really easy to look over your losing hands and think you played perfectly because you can’t spot any mistakes. It took my a long time to realize I was even making these mistakes, let alone figure out how to go about fixing them. This article should drastically increase your learning curve in plo and save you many of thousands of dollars. All for free! Okay now on to the leaks…

Calling too many 3 bets, especially with hands that play poorly vs AAxx
This is by far the biggest leak I see in “good” regulars’ game. They pretty much instacall all 3 bets without even thinking about how well their hand plays vs their opponents 3 betting range. An Ace with three babies (ALLL) is about the worst hand you can be calling 3 bets with, even in position. Let me give you some hand examples of me vs a reg who opens very wide, and loves to call just about all 3 bets regardless of his hand.

Here I 3 bet a decent double suited hand with an Ace and villain calls (incorrectly imo) with A345 rainbow. I’m 70% preflop and 82% on the flop. I know he has position, but there’s just no way he can overcome his equity disadvantage by bluffing me off the best hand often enough and it’s a clear leak for him.

Same villain as the above hand. In this case it’s not as bad of a preflop call as his hand is slightly better (though he snap called he should at least be thinking about folding preflop). I’m 62% preflop, and have his hand dominated (AJQ8ds vs AJ45ss) but the straight preflop equity doesn’t tell the full story. When the flop comes AJx he’s going to be stacking off and I’m going to be freerolling him to a Q or a flushdraw a lot of the time. Also, I’m going to have AAxx in my range here so he’s going to get it in drawing dead when the flop comes A high and I flop top set and he flops top 2 pair. His flushdraw is also only Jack high and I’m going to have his flushdraw dominated a good bit of the time when be both catch flushdraws. What is he going to do on an AQ5 flop where I flop top 2 and he flop top and bottom 2? On this flop he catches about the best flop he can dream of, the board’s top 2 pair and his hole cards’ middle 2 pair, and he’s still and underdog, I’m 55% to win here.

Here I exercise good discipline by folding a similar type hand from the btn vs a tight 3 bettor in the BB.

Here is one more hand example where I fold a very good double suited AK92 hand vs a 4 bet from an 18/14 villain. A lot of people will call here with my hand or even a KKxx hand, but the fact of the matter is this type of villain has AAxx 100% of the time and I’m in really bad shape.

Hand Pot equity Wins Ties
Ac9cKh2h 31.11% 183,288 6,700
AA** 68.89% 410,012 6,700

Not correctly counting your outs
I see people get all in with “overpairs” plus flushdraws all the time when it’s obvious they are drawing so thin vs a made straight, trips or a boat and they have either 0-30% equity but put all their money in anyways. Below is a hand that demonstrates this. I apologize in advance to this particular player, as I did not intend to call them out or anything, but pokerhand was having trouble hiding the identities in the hand history for some reason. Anyways, I was not involved in the hand I merely observed it. This player flops an “overpair” plus nut flushdraw on 225 twotone board and checks, the pfr cbets and is raised in position by a 1/2 stack. At this point one of them has trips or better 90%+ of the time, yet this player still elects to put his stack at risk and goes all in. He has 30% equity on the flop and is lucky neither of them have a boat or quads, otherwise he’d be drawing to a jack with 8% equity.

Not attacking weakness enough and taking advantage of good bluffing opportunities
There’s plenty of opportunities for bluffing in PLO but a lot of people either don’t see them or don’t care to take the “risk” of trying to exploit them. Here’s an example of a four way hand that gets checked around on the flop of 994 rainbow, and then the sb checks to me on the turn. It’s unlikely anyone has a 9 and my turn bet has to work less than half the time to be profitable. I fire my one barrel and pick up the pot uncontested, but I think a lot of people would just try to check it down and spike an A or K on the river to make the best hand instead of taking advantage of this great steal opportunity.

Not playing your good draws aggressively
A lot of people don’t realize how dominating a lot of their draws are. Below is a hand where I flop what might appear to be a great hand to a lot of people, a wrap on a flushdraw board and the villain flops a pair and the 2nd nut flushdraw. Villain is 79% on the flop and a lot of people facing a raise in my spot are going to peel to at least the turn. Vs a raising range of only made hands (two pair and sets) it’s not such a bad peel either. But if villain is capable of raising some of his strong draws here the peel is pure spew so it widens your raising range as well and makes you harder to play against in addition to extracting value when you flop a dominating draw like this. On an ace high board it makes more sense to just flat in position here, but most people will just call here even if the ace is a deuce and they are missing out on a lot of value.

Overvaluing, and calling with sets too much
This is kind of a corollary to “Not correctly counting your outs” and somewhat of a bonus section, but I think it really shows that people fail to think about RELATIVE hand strength, and usually only in terms of ABSOLUTE hand strength. A set is 23% on the turn vs a made hand. Put another way, when you hold a set on the turn the river will pair the board 23% of the time. Remember this fact. When someone check calls a As9s8c board and then donks out pot on a 7s turn, you can fold your AAxx. What!? Fold top set? Yes. Now at the higher stakes people are going to be more tricky and be capable of doing this as a bluff and in that situation you can call, but in general people play very straightforwardly and you can safely fold here. When calling a pot sized bet you need at least 33% equity to call and you are lighting money on fire every time you make this call. I know what you are going to say, oh implied odds, duh! I can definitely call here. I think you are vastly overestimating your implied odds here and in order for this call to be correct you need to:

1) Make your hand and
2) Get hero called by your opponent on the river

We already know the probability of 1) is 23%. Look it up on propokertools.com if you don’t believe me. The probability of 2) is not known and it’s something you will have to guesstimate. But how often do you really think villain will call on an Ace or 9 river when the board reads AA789 with three spades when he holds a flush? Turns out it has to be an awful lot. What follows is the math, if you just want to take my word for it you can skip this section, otherwise, prepare to be bored with lot’s of maths!

These are the equations for figuring out what bet size someone needs to bet for you to have direct odds at drawing with a particular equity amount. We’ll assume we have 23% equity, with a potsize of $100, and solve for their betsize.

1) pot+2*bet=total pot
2) bet/total pot=needed equity

total pot=bet/needed equity (rearranging 2)
pot+2*bet=bet/needed equity (subsituting into 1)
pot/bet+2=1/needed equity (simplifying)
pot/bet=1/needed equity-2

Final equation: bet=pot/(1/needed equity-2)

needed equity=23%

So to have the direct pot odds to be drawing, villain has to be betting 42% or less of the pot on the turn for you to profitably call assuming no implied odds. Now suppose villain pots it and you call (implied odds duh! ez call, right?). This means the pot is 300 and you need to make up for the $58 you lost on the turn (100+2*42=184, 300-184=116, 116/2=58). So when you hit you need villain to call an extra $58 100% of the time to break even, or suppose you bet 3 times this amount you need them to call $174 into a $300 pot 33% of the time to breakeven. In other words, when you hit they need to be calling your 2/3 size pot bet more than 1/3 of the time for you to even show a profit on the turn call.

Now I’m by no means saying to go folding sets left and right I’m just saying really take some time to think about what your opponent has and what your equity is in the hand before you go clicking the call or raise button in some situations with your all powerful set.

I hope you learned something. This post took me quite awhile to put together. Please leave a comment if you find any errors, have anything to add and if you liked this learning style of hand examples. I’ll leave you with a cool robot vid and a mind hack vid.

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

5 Responses to “Pot Limit Omaha Strategy: Let’s fix some leaks!”

  1. LuckySOB says:

    Great article. Makes me wanna go dominate low stakes PLO. And as always great entertaining vids.

    ATM update? How those things doing?

  2. peppe says:

    Yeah great article. I love your quality blog posts.

  3. Queenie says:

    Finally a good blogpost on Pot Limit Omaha!I’m writing myself about PLO for a couple of weeks now and I’m amazed how few players play this game while it’s so much fun as well as profitable. Keep up the bloggin.

  4. Polprav says:

    Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

  5. andr3w321 says:

    Not quite sure what you mean. Yes you can link my blog obviously and if you like quote a few sentences. No you can not copy and paste my entire post and pass if off as your own.

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