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Some Pot-Limit Omaha Hands

by Bob Ciaffone |  Published: May 01, 2013


Bob CiaffoneAs I mentioned in my last article, I have been playing in a round-by-round game that is one round of no-limit hold’em and one round of pot-limit Omaha (PLO). The last few times I have played, the game has been changed to one round of no-limit and two rounds of PLO. By the time you read these words, I suspect that the game will have been changed to all PLO.

The reason for the change is that PLO has much more action, and much more money changes hands at that game. As soon as someone loses a big pot at no-limit, they want a much better chance of getting even. If your goal is to get out of the trap, PLO is way the better game. And if you are willing to play slightly inferior starting hands in your lust for action, PLO is much more forgiving. So I am willing to play as much PLO as the other players want.

Here are a number of PLO hands I was involved in where the chips were flying around. Note that a big Omaha pot is not always a huge draw against a made hand like a set. Sometimes one of the players is in a serious bind. I am usually on top when someone has a big overlay, but here is one where I was not.

I picked up K-K-Q-J on the button and everyone limped in for $3. I raised to $20 and got some callers. The flop came A-K-9 rainbow and the fellow on my right, a short stack, fired at the pot. I decided not to slow play my set and put in large raise. At this point, a player who had checked in middle position came over the top for all his money. The shortstack called for what he had left (about $40). I had only about $50 left and there was several hundred dollars in the pot already. If my opponent had pocket aces — which was extremely likely given the action — I had five outs twice (a gutshot 10 or the case king). I put the rest of my money in and was glum until the dealer put a ten on the board for the last card, allowing me to win a big pot where I had gotten all my money in awfully bad. My opponents had held A-A and 9-9 respectively, so it had been set over set over set.

Besides having the best made hand against two other made hands, there are several other ways you can get a nice overlay in a PLO hand. One of the more delightful ones is to have the nuts and a freeroll. Look at this hand. I held JClub Suit 10Heart Suit 8Club Suit 7Heart Suit on the button (a terrific PLO starting hand) and someone had open-raised, getting the usual flock of callers. I preferred to just call, so I could use my position later. The flop came 9-6-5 rainbow, giving me the nuts, and the field checked to me. I of course bet, and one of the tights check-raised. There was no doubt about him having a straight, so I reraised, and we got all-in on the flop. I was on a freeroll (unless my opponent made a runner-runner flush) with four outs twice for the whole pot, since I needed an eight or a seven for all the cookies. We split the pot, but this kind of overlay where you play for all the money with almost no chance to lose is pretty sweet.

Here is another hand where I flopped the nut straight with a freeroll. I held 2Diamond Suit 3Diamond Suit 5Diamond Suit 7Club Suit, and the flop came 6Diamond Suit 4Diamond Suit 2Spade Suit, giving me the nuts, plus a diamond for a flush or an eight for a straight as possible freerolls. I bet the flop, got raised, and put in a big reraise. (By this time, some of you may be wondering how Bob Ciaffone got into the pot in the first place on such a crappy starting hand. Those who know me well can deduce I was the big blind in a pot that was unraised preflop.) My opponent called, leaving us a pot of about half a grand and only a couple hundred dollars left apiece. Since he had not gone all-in, I figured my little flush draw was live. On the turn came a black six, pairing the board. I checked, which was a bad poker play. (I should go all-in, since I was going to call if he bet). My opponent did go all-in and I called. He did not have a boat and a blank came, so we split the pot.

One question that comes up often at PLO is how to play pocket aces before the flop. Being suited is very helpful, but even so, I hate having multiple opponents unless I have a short enough stack to go all-in on the flop. Let me give you a couple of hands where I held aces in the small blind. If I remember correctly, I was suited with one of the aces on both of the hands.

A bunch of players limped in and the button raised to $25. I figured that I could get heads-up if I reraised, so I came over the top for the maximum amount. The shortstack on my left nearly beat me into the pot. Three more players, including the initial raiser, also put all their money in. This was far more action than I had bargained for, but I was committed by now so put another couple hundred into the pot to be all-in. I actually had the best hand on the turn with my aces and also had picked up a spade flush draw. On the last card, a player in middle position made jacks and fours to win over a grand. The other two cards he held were so awful that I could not even tell what he had pinned his hopes on preflop.

The next session I played, I had the same thing happen, with the button making a preflop raise and me holding pocket aces. My “two-flush” was actually a three-flush, since I had the 4Heart Suit and the 2Heart Suit to go with my AHeart Suit. Still smarting from by previous experience, I just called the raise. A bunch of others called, no ace came on the flop, and I folded to a flop bet. I do learn how to a adjust to a super-loose game after a while.

I have a couple of PLO tips for you who have grown to love the action. First, play pocket aces carefully, especially when out of position. You do not want multiple callers. Much better is to find a dude who cannot fold pocket kings, which is not a good hand with which to crack the aces. In fact, any pocket pair is a detriment to cracking a big pair like aces, since it reduces your chance of obtaining two pair.

The other tip is beware of any hand that has a second card weakness, such as J-9-8-7. This is a far worse hand than J-10-8-7 or J-10-9-7, because it is much harder to make the nut straight. ♠

Bob Ciaffone’s new poker book, No-limit Holdem Poker, is now available. This is Bob’s fifth book on poker strategy. It can be ordered from Bob for $25 by emailing him at Free shipping in the lower 48 states to Card Player readers. All books autographed. Bob Ciaffone is available for poker lessons.