Eight Common Mistakes Beginners Make in Pot-Limit Omaha

Vivian Saliba

Pot-limit Omaha is one of the most exciting variants of poker. There is so much action going on all the time and you can really feel the adrenaline while playing it. It is no surprise that PLO keeps getting bigger all over the world.

Despite its popularity, many beginners or bad players believe that pot-limit Omaha isn't a skill game, or at least fail to appreciate the game's skill component. As a result they repeatedly make many fundamental mistakes, unable to recognize they are doing so.

Here are some tips on how to become a winning player in PLO by fixing your biggest leaks. What follows are eight common mistakes I see beginning PLO players make.

1. Poor Starting Hand Selection

You've already learned from my article "You Can't Play Them All: Evaluating Starting Hands in Pot-Limit Omaha" how important starting hand selection can be in PLO. There are so many combinations (270,725 different starting hand combinations, to be precise), but even though most of them might look beautiful they won't be playable hands.

For example, a hand like {A-Spades}{J-Hearts}{J-Clubs}{2-Clubs} might strike some as attractive to play. But it will often be a losing preflop raise from UTG, for example.

2. Playing Small Rundowns

I know, {5-Hearts}{4-Diamonds}{3-Diamonds}{2-Hearts} looks nice, but small cards kill the potential of nut draws and combinations of made hands in PLO. Even though you might flop a straight, it will unlikely be the nuts by the river. If you flop trips, you could be facing better trips or bigger full houses against most of the continuation range of your opponents. Two pairs and flushes are also easily dominated.

3. Playing Small Pairs

Hands like {K-}{8-}{3-}{3-} will miss most flops, and even those times when you hit a set, it will probably be bottom set. You won't have backdoors and you will be dominated against most of your opponent's continuation range when the board get paired or flushes and straights are possible.

4. Playing Non-Nut Flushes

In pot-limit Omaha smaller flushes than queen-high don't have much value when facing multiple opponents. You should be very careful about calling off or value betting your flushes. When facing heads-up situations, even small flushes get more value and sometimes you can go for three streets of value, but be wary otherwise.

5. Overplaying Big Pairs

Aces are great in PLO preflop. Kings and queens might be great, you will have to take into consideration other aspects before playing these hands.

One consideration should be the number of players in the hand. If there is a raise or three-bet before you act, the other two cards in your hand make a big difference affecting whether or not you should even play kings or queens — e.g., {K-Hearts}{K-Diamonds}{A-Hearts}{Q-Hearts} is way stronger than {K-Spades}{K-Clubs}{7-Hearts}{5-Diamonds}. Your read on the other players should factor into your decision as well.

Don't overplay your big pairs either preflop or postflop. You must evaluate every single aspect of a hand.

6. Playing From Out of Position

Avoid limping in with mediocre hands from early position or calling three-bets from out of position. For a variety of reasons, having position matters greatly in PLO and gives players a tremendous advantage. Play a lot of hands from out of position and you will quickly become highly exploitable.

7. Bet Sizing Incorrectly

Many beginning PLO players have bet sizing leaks — for example, always betting pot when they have the nuts and betting less than the pot (e.g., half-pot) when they are bluffing. You should be consistent and less easy for your opponents to read.

8. Playing Short-Stacked

I also discussed this topic previously in my article "Strategies With Different Stack Sizes in Pot-Limit Omaha." As I said there, there are a few reasons why I don't recommend you to try to play PLO short-stacked. Those include not being able to protect the equity of your hand by making your opponents fold their equity, not being able to bluff several streets, and frequently getting pot committed with ordinary hands that will be easily dominated.

Conclusion

Are you guilty of any of these? Even experienced players occasionally make these very common pot-limit Omaha mistakes. Meanwhile beginners often are guilty of most or all of them.

Whether you are new to PLO or not, there is always much room to improve and increase your profits. Keep studying and you will crush!

Primarily an online player, 888poker Ambassador Vivian "Vivi" Saliba has recently collected numerous live cashes including making the money in both the 2017 WSOP Main Event and 2017 WSOP Europe Main Event. Pot-limit Omaha is her favorite variant, and among her many PLO scores is an 11th place in the $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 8-Handed Championship at the 2017 WSOP.

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