Poker Tips from the Pros: Matt Ashton Plugs PLO Hi-Lo Leaks Pt. 1

Matt Ashton

I learned how to play Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) Hi/Lo in cash games.

I also like playing in smaller buy-in tournaments as the fields are so much smaller than the No-Limit Hold’em (NLHE) tournaments that eat away at your life.

I have to be honest, though. I'm not the best. I don’t give much thought to the math and I'm far too loose and aggressive.

Somehow I still seem to do extremely well. They do say that poker contains an element of luck.

In the first of a two-part series I enlisted WSOP bracelet winner Matt Ashton to dissect the first eight of 18 hands that I made note of after playing in a $4.40 PLO Hi/Lo tournament on PokerStars.

Hand #1

Blinds 10/20

Seat 1: PinnacleUa (2780 in chips) 

Seat 2: Andrew0208 (2900 in chips) 

Seat 3: wobbegong (2960 in chips) 

Seat 4: AlexMillers (4380 in chips) (OTB)

Seat 5: veekay1 (1860 in chips) (SB)

Seat 7: RA$HPILLL (3120 in chips) (BB)

Seat 8: mr omaha3500 (3000 in chips) 

Seat 9: shurikenstar (2900 in chips) 

HERO: [Jc 2s Ah 4c]

Action

Hero opens to 60 in early position. There are two callers before the small blind three-bets to 320. Hero calls and one of the earlier callers raises to 1,360; the small blind moves all-in for 1,860, Hero also move all-in for 2,900, and the third player in the hand also moves all-in for 2,780.

*** FLOP *** [3d 8c 2h]

*** TURN *** [3d 8c 2h] [Th]

*** RIVER *** [3d 8c 2h Th] [Qc] 

*** SHOW DOWN ***

shurikenstar: shows [Jc 2s Ah 4c] (HI: a pair of Deuces; LO: 8,4,3,2,A)

PinnacleUa: shows [7d 4s As Ad] (HI: a pair of Aces; LO: 8,4,3,2,A)

PinnacleUa collected 920 from side pot

shurikenstar collected 460 from side pot

PinnacleUa collected 460 from side pot

veekay1: shows [6d 7c Kh 3s] (HI: a pair of Threes; LO: 8,7,6,3,2)

PinnacleUa collected 2830 from main pot

shurikenstar collected 1415 from main pot

PinnacleUa collected 1415 from main pot

Lee: I have the tendency in these lower buy-in tournaments to see ace-deuce and then go a bit nuts in the early stages. My only question to Matt was whether getting it in pre flop at this stage, and with this hand, is too loose?

Matt Ashton: I think limping is a good option from early position with most of your range in Omaha tournaments. This reduces variance and playing smaller pots is nice.

People make more mistakes post flop with deeper stacks. You also need to remember that you will be taking a flop out of position most of the time. That said, raising is better than folding, for sure, and the best play at a tighter table.

Once you are subjected to a raise, unless you think there's a decent chance AJ is the best high hand right now, calling is better than shoving. It rarely makes a difference but saving money on a 99K flop is better than nothing.

I wouldn't consider folding at any point given the buy-in of this tournament and the potential for people to show up with worse hands than this.

Hand #2

Blinds 10/20

Seat 1: PinnacleUa (5585 in chips) (BB)

Seat 2: Andrew0208 (2900 in chips) 

Seat 3: wobbegong (2900 in chips) 

Seat 4: AlexMillers (4680 in chips) 

Seat 5: bierbernd (1770 in chips) 

Seat 7: RA$HPILLL (2890 in chips) 

Seat 8: mr omaha3500 (2990 in chips) (OTB)

Seat 9: shurikenstar (1955 in chips) (SB)

HERO: [Tc Ks Qh Kh]

Action

The action folds around to the cutoff who raises to 40. The button folds and Hero three-bets to 140. The big blind makes the call, as does the original raiser.

*** FLOP *** [6d Jh Ah]

Hero c-bets to 420, the big blind folds, and the cutoff calls.

*** TURN *** [6d Jh Ah] [Kd]

Hero bets 1,260 and the cutoff folds.

Lee: I turn the nuts and want to charge the low draw for staying in the hand or force a fold so I can take the money already in the pot. Is this the right play or should I bet less and kept the villain in the hand?

Matt Ashton: Pre-flop I think calling is the best play here. High-only hands should be three-bet very rarely. Their equity is poor and you will hate to be re-raised.

As for balancing your range I don't think they're all that necessary, you can still have plenty of better aces, Broadway hands (AKQ4, AJT3) that can make straights, and big pairs with a low draw that would fare better than this type of hand too in my opinion. 

On the turn, with stack sizes as they are, I think pot is your only size here. If it was PLO high you could make a good argument for checking, or betting small with you having the board so crushed, but with the low draw on the board I think it would be a mistake.

Hand #3

Blinds 10/20

Seat 1: PinnacleUa (5445 in chips) (SB)

Seat 2: Andrew0208 (2900 in chips) (BB)

Seat 3: wobbegong (2900 in chips) 

Seat 4: AlexMillers (4680 in chips) 

Seat 5: bierbernd (1770 in chips) 

Seat 6: JRKB778 (3000 in chips) 

Seat 7: RA$HPILLL (2330 in chips) 

Seat 8: mr omaha3500 (2990 in chips) 

Seat 9: shurikenstar (2655 in chips) (OTB)

HERO: [Ac 6h 5h Ad]

Action

There is a limper under the gun, the hijack raises to 60, Hero raises to 230 on the button, the limper folds, the hijack raises to 740, Hero raises to 2,270, the hijack raises to 2,300 - and is all-in - and Hero calls the last 60.

Lee: Is getting it in pre flop with a five and six in my hand a high-variance move?

Matt Ashton: If you have aces, with a low draw, you want to get all of your money in pre flop if you get the chance.

You might not always want to three-bet some weaker ones if you'd expect to get called a lot, and there will still be money left to play post flop. These aces are always strong enough to three-bet and the 5 and 6 is not such a bad combo.

Hand #4

Blinds 20/40

Seat 1: PinnacleUa (5256 in chips) (BB)

Seat 2: KruCciAll (3268 in chips) 

Seat 3: wobbegong (3245 in chips) 

Seat 4: AlexMillers (5534 in chips) 

Seat 5: bierbernd (1590 in chips) 

Seat 6: george-gr (2901 in chips) 

Seat 7: siara213 (3470 in chips) 

Seat 8: mr omaha3500 (2162 in chips) (OTB)

Seat 9: shurikenstar (7641 in chips) (SB)

HERO: [2h 6d 4h 5d]

Action

There are two limpers in the pot before Hero raises to 200 from the small blind. The big blind calls, as do the two limpers.

*** FLOP *** [9s Qd 4c]

Hero c-bets to 800, the big blind folds, the original limper raises to 1,390 - and is all-in - and Hero calls the additional 590. 

*** TURN *** [9s Qd 4c] [5c]

*** RIVER *** [9s Qd 4c 5c] [Ts] 

*** SHOW DOWN ***

shurikenstar: shows [2h 6d 4h 5d] (HI: two pair, Fives and Fours)

bierbernd: shows [Kd Jd 3c Ks] (HI: a straight, Nine to King)

bierbernd collected 3580 from pot

Lee: I realize that I made a mistake with my flop c-bet after not paying attention to stack size, but is it a mistake to raise pre flop with this hand?

Matt Ashton: Raising with this hand pre-flop is a mistake. Low only hands without an ace in them are rarely strong enough to raise after a couple limpers - even hands that look this pretty.

As played, on the flop, I think it’s pretty ambitious to bet into three other players even if this flop shouldn't hit them all that often. I would check.

Hand #5

Blinds 40/80

Seat 1: PinnacleUa (1618 in chips) (BB)

Seat 2: KruCciAll (2635 in chips) 

Seat 3: wobbegong (3005 in chips) 

Seat 4: AlexMillers (5401 in chips) 

Seat 6: george-gr (3276 in chips) 

Seat 7: ekta124 (4198 in chips) 

Seat 8: mr omaha3500 (8478 in chips) (OTB)

Seat 9: shurikenstar (6186 in chips) (SB)

HERO: [Kc 3d Ac Ks]

Action

There is a limper from early position, Hero raises to 320 from the small blind, and the limper calls.

*** FLOP *** [4d 6c 6s] 

Hero bets 720, the limper moves all-in for 2,685, and Hero calls. 

*** TURN *** [4d 6c 6s] [Kh]

*** RIVER *** [4d 6c 6s Kh] [Ts]

*** SHOW DOWN ***

shurikenstar: shows [Kc 3d Ac Ks] (HI: a full house, Kings full of Sixes)

wobbegong: shows [5h 8d 6d Ah] (HI: three of a kind, Sixes)

shurikenstar collected 6090 from pot

No low hand qualified

Lee: Should I have called the all-in on the flop?

Matt Ashton: Pre-flop, you have a very strong hand the shallower stacks get. The strong high equity, along with A3, is probably underrated by most beginning players.

This hand is much stronger than the AJ24 from before. Might seem pedantic, but raising pot should be your only size here too. You have to get as many chips in as possible with your stronger range.

You definitely can't be folding the flop to any action with these stack sizes. You could make an argument for betting smaller, to get a better price on some hands you might want to bet/fold, but this is fine too.

Hand #6

Blinds 40/80

Seat 1: PinnacleUa (1898 in chips) 

Seat 2: KruCciAll (2475 in chips) (OTB)

Seat 3: tabaza1 (5517 in chips) (SB)

Seat 4: AlexMillers (5241 in chips) (BB)

Seat 5: ionbv15 (3799 in chips) 

Seat 6: george-gr (3116 in chips) 

Seat 7: ekta124 (4478 in chips) 

Seat 8: mr omaha3500 (8478 in chips) 

Seat 9: shurikenstar (9271 in chips) 

HERO:  [As 2h 7s Jd]

Action

There are two limpers before Hero raises to 440 in position. The big blind and the two limpers all call.

*** FLOP *** [Js 4s Ah]

Hero bets 1,800 and everyone folds.

Lee: I flop top two pair and bet pot. Once again I am trying to get low draws to fold and I am not sure about this play. I am also interested in the thoughts of my starting hand in terms of the strength of the deuce and seven in my hand.

Matt Ashton: I think too much weight is put into the A2 part of the holding, and not the whole hand itself. Equity for the high part of the pot isn't considered heavily enough.

Broadway cards to go along with the A2 are more valuable than a 6-8, and even more valuable than a 3-5 when stacks get shorter. Here you have a nut suit, which helps a lot, but the seven doesn't help much. The jack is decent but a queen or king kicker is better.

I think I would prefer a limp behind if I was playing with strong players. If people are limping with some very bad hands in front of you, then the raise is fine.

On the flop there's no way you can bet/fold this flop four ways so you might as well always bet the pot and make sure you don't give anyone a better price to just flat call and see a turn. 

Hand #7

Blinds: 40/80

Seat 1: PinnacleUa (1898 in chips) 

Seat 2: KruCciAll (2475 in chips) 

Seat 3: tabaza1 (5657 in chips) 

Seat 4: AlexMillers (4600 in chips) (OTB)

Seat 5: ionbv15 (3719 in chips) (SB)

Seat 6: george-gr (2857 in chips) (BB)

Seat 7: ekta124 (4038 in chips) 

Seat 8: mr omaha3500 (8398 in chips) 

Seat 9: shurikenstar (10631 in chips) 

HERO: [Qs 2c Ks 3d]

Action

Hero opens to 240 and both the button and big blind make the call.

*** FLOP *** [9d 9s 5d]

The action checks to Hero, who bets 410; only the button calls.

*** TURN *** [9d 9s 5d] [5c]

Both players check.

*** RIVER *** [9d 9s 5d 5c] [5s]

Hero bets 1,200, the button raises to 2,400 and Hero folds.

Lee: Do you fold to the river raise, and what is your opinion on my starting hand and starting hands without aces in general?

Matt Ashton: I would fold the river. Quads is a believable story for him and he could even bluff a better hand than yours.

From early position it’s very rare you should open a hand without an ace. This hand is certainly too weak unless you can expect to win the pot pre-flop a very high frequency.

Hand #8

Blinds: 50/100

Seat 1: PinnacleUa (1898 in chips) 

Seat 2: KruCciAll (2475 in chips) 

Seat 3: tabaza1 (5657 in chips) 

Seat 5: ionbv15 (2579 in chips) 

Seat 6: george-gr (3892 in chips) 

Seat 7: ekta124 (5138 in chips) (OTB)

Seat 8: mr omaha3500 (8098 in chips) (SB)

Seat 9: shurikenstar (7806 in chips) (BB)

HERO: [Ks 6h 8s Jh]

Action

The player in first position raises to 350 and there are two callers before Hero completes in the big blind.

** FLOP *** [8h 9d 8d]

Everyone checks.

*** TURN *** [8h 9d 8d] [Jd]

Hero leads for 890, the initial raiser moves all-in for 1,548 and only Hero calls. 

*** RIVER *** [8h 9d 8d Jd] [3s]

*** SHOW DOWN ***

shurikenstar: shows [Ks 6h 8s Jh] (HI: a full house, Eights full of Jacks)

PinnacleUa: shows [6s 2d Ad Ah] (HI: a flush, Ace high)

shurikenstar collected 4546 from pot

No low hand qualified

Lee:  Should I have made the call pre-flop?

Matt Ashton: You have to be a lot tighter from the big blind in PLO8 than other big bet games. The reverse implied odds with non-nut hands really kills your playability.

Even if the flop is something like 4d5d7c here and you face a pot-sized bet you’re in a bad spot, effectively drawing at half the pot, hoping they're not free rolling.

You don't get to realize a lot of your equity in this game with non-nut hands because you get semi-bluffed off your hand so often. As played I would make a small bet on the flop. You'd really like to pick the pot up now before the board develops any further.

More Pot-Limit Omaha Strategy:


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