How to Not Suck at PLO: Don’t Overvalue Aces

Eugene Katchalov

This is the fourth in an eight-part beginner strategy series on how to win at Pot-Limit Omaha.

Check below the article for more articles in the series.

Aces in Omaha are very tricky business.

New Omaha players overvalue and overplay pocket aces way too often.

In Omaha, pairs are rarely good at showdown.

Omaha is a post-flop game and in deep-stacked Omaha it’s extremely hard to even get to showdown with aces - let alone see those aces win.

Playing with aces is difficult, but can be made much easier with a few simple points of understanding.

Phil Hellmuth
Hey guys, I have aces.

Your Goal is Pot Commitment

Aces in PLO play best when stacks are short and/or when you can get a large portion of your stack in before the flop.

With aces your goal is to get yourself pot committed so no matter what the flop you’ll be getting all-in.

How much of your stack you need to get into the middle before being committed is up for debate, but ideally you’d want your flop bet to be less than a pot-sized bet to get all-in.

How you get yourself committed is another thing. You have to pay attention to your stack size as well as anyone else in the hand.

If you realize that the pre-flop raiser has a shallow stack, you can re-raise if you know you’ll be heads up because you’ll have no problem getting committed versus his stack size.

You can also limp and hope someone behind you pots it and gets a few callers in order to repot it and get a huge bet in.

Hey Guys, I Have Aces

Be careful: you have to make sure that this bet will get you committed.

Nothing is worse than making a large pre-flop raise that doesn’t get you committed and you’re left in the dark after the flop.

If you can’t get committed you’re better off just calling, keeping your aces concealed, and seeing a flop. 

When you raise or re-raise and tell the table you have aces, but you don’t get enough of your stack in to be committed, you’re in an extremely dangerous spot.

The table knows you have aces and can play perfectly against you but you have no clue what the other players have.

Ben Jenkins
Not all aces created equal.

You’re left guessing, which is why it’s often better to just call a raise and keep aces hidden if you can’t get a large, committing raise in.

Not All Aces are Created Equal

Just like some rundowns are better than others, some aces are better than others.

And just because you have aces that doesn’t mean you have a good hand.

Yes, aces are probably a favorite over most other hands. But that’s if you can get to showdown, which is no guarantee.

Good Aces

You’ll start to see a common theme emerging in these articles.

The best hands have more than one way to win. They don’t just depend on one aspect of the hand - they’re multi-faceted.

The best aces have a little something to go along with them, be it a nut suit, or straight potential, or whatever.

Some examples of good aces would be:

  • A A T J
  • A A K Q
  • A A 5 5

It should be easy to determine how good your aces actually are.

Good aces have something else to go along with the aces - flush potential, straight potential, other set potential, etc.

Aces themselves are great, but with a few Plan Bs they’re even better.

Patrik Antonius
Know your bad aces.

If your aces are especially strong you don’t even need to worry about broadcasting to the whole table you have aces because you have so much else going for you that they don’t know.

Bad Aces

Bad aces are just the opposite. They’re aces and that’s it.

They have no other potential and the only way they’re probably going to win is by using the aces at showdown.

An example of bad aces is:


These aces are difficult to play and very weak.

If you can’t get committed with these, it’s better to just call and see a flop with your aces hidden.

Case Study:

$1/$2 Pot-Limit Omaha game; $400 effective stacks. There are two limpers to the button, who makes it $6.

You have A A 4 9 in the small blind.

What Should You Do?

In this spot you should almost always just call.

Your aces are raggedy, you’re out of position, and the stacks are deep so you have no chance of getting committed.

But let’s change the example just slightly.

Fine line between awesome and awful.

$1/$2 PLO game. You have a $50 stack. The UTG player makes it $6 and two players call behind him.

You’re still in the small blind with your raggedy A A 4 9.

But now there’s $21 in the pot and your maximum raise is $27.

What Should You Do?

You can get more than pot committed by getting more than 50% of your stack in.

So make that pot raise and shovel the rest in on any flop that comes!

Key Takeaway

Aces in PLO are a fine line between awesome and awful.

Aces get new players into trouble far more often than any other hand in PLO.

Players come over from Hold’em thinking that aces are the stone cold nuts but in Omaha they’re just another hand.

However, if you’re smart and you can recognize the strength of your aces - times you can get committed and the times you can’t, when you have strong aces and when you have weak aces - it’ll help de-mystify them and help you understand the entire game of Omaha better.

More in the How to Not Suck at Pot-Limit Omaha series:

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