Advanced Pot Limit Omaha Strategy

Once you have learned the basics of starting hand selection, drawing to the nuts and pot-limit betting – you are ready to add some advanced strategies to your PLO armory. This article covers a range of tactics that will help you increase your win-rate in lower buy-in Omaha hi games online.

First you’ll find out how to spot situations where a combination of your current equity and ‘backdoor outs’ make it profitable to call when you are not favorite to win the hand. Next some notes on reading your opponent’s hands. After this I have covered how to distinguish hands which do better heads up from hands which perform well multi-way. Finally some notes on good bankroll management, which is a key skill in the high-variance game of pot-limit Omaha.

Equity, Backdoor Outs and Kill Cards

In Pot-Limit Omaha there are many situations where the pot has gotten so large that you have an easy call with a hand which is likely behind. This is not just for the mega-draws like wrap + flush draw hands, it can be for a simple flush with the pot offering you compelling odds.

What many new players miss is that there is often extra equity from backdoor draws. For example with a flush draw + top-pair hand, you will have chances of trips or even a runner-runner full-house, you may also have straight possibilities. These extras can often add the few percentage points to your equity, which make a fold into a call.

Conversely, there are often cards in the deck which are not clean outs. For example in a classic flush draw against set all-in on the flop, the set has outs to make a full house (7 on the turn and 10 on the river) which effectively kill your flush. Being outdrawn by a flush when you hold the nut straight has the additional risk of higher straight cards appearing as well as the board pairing.

You’ll need to spend some time with an Omaha poker calculator to get used to these kind of match-ups.

Hand Reading in PLO

In my article on Basic PLO Strategy Tips, I outlined how people who raise (or 3-bet) only with hands containing aces will find themselves in trouble in PLO games. There are several more ways you can learn to read the hands of your opponents in Omaha.

Key here is to start with the shape and strength of your opponents hands. You can often find bet sizing tells will give you a clue starting before the flop. For example, some players will only ever re-raise premium hands and will be more likely to raise pair or high card hands and instead call with their rundown hands.

After the flop some players will bet out every time they have a draw, while others will check and call with non-nut (though still strong) draws. With careful observation you can easily pick up patterns. If you are not used to this I recommend you start by focusing on how different opponent play their Aces hands – followed by double suited run-downs. Once you figure whether someone is drawing or ‘protecting’ a made hand from the bet sizing, your decision making process becomes significantly easier.

Multi-Way and Heads-Up Hands

Some Omaha hands perform better in multi-way pots, while others are at their strongest when heads-up. Examples of multi-way hands include the higher rundown hands, preferably double suited. If you hold a high pair with little in the way of coordinated backup then you will ideally find yourself heads-up and with the initiative in the betting. If you miss the flop and face resistance, then high pair hands should usually be ditched.

Simply deciding whether your hand would prefer to be heads-up or multi-way can help you choose a good pre-flop betting strategy. Make sure that you mix things up sometimes though – or observant opponents will know what type of hand you are holding from your betting style.

PLO Bankroll Management

PLO is a high-variance game. You can play great and find yourself missing big draws, having your big sets cracked and find your bankroll going down fast. Of course, this will be balanced by times when you run great too!

In Texas Holdem, the agreed safe bankroll level is 20x your buy-in, so you only have 5% of your bankroll in any one game. In PLO I recommend that you play a little more conservatively with your bankroll, instead opting for 3% on any single table or 30 buy-ins minimum. This will mean you can ride the variance which is natural in this game without having to worry about your entire bankroll disappearing.