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How to Not Suck at PLO: Hit the Flop Hard
This is the sixth part in an eight-part beginner strategy series on how to win at Pot-Limit Omaha.
For more in the series, check the list below the articles.
In Omaha your goal is to hit the flop hard. Just like we talked about in pre-flop play, you want to flop a good hand with something else to go with it.
In reality, that doesn’t happen as often as we’d like. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to check-fold.
Just like in Hold’em you have to analyze your hand, the board texture, your opponent’s bet sizing, your opponent’s style of play, etc. to determine if your hand is good enough to proceed.
There’s no substitute for experience. The more flops in Omaha you take, the easier flop play becomes.
A wrap is a straight draw with more outs than an open-ender. Open-enders have eight outs (four cards on either side) but full wraps can have as many as 20!
This is why big rundowns are so powerful. When you make the nut straight and someone makes a smaller straight, you’re going to make a whole lot of money.
You have to learn to recognize the strength of your draws. And not just recognize how many outs you have to a straight, but how many of those are outs to nuts straights as opposed to non-nut straights.
Here’s an example:
With J♥ T♠ 9♦ 7♠ on a 8♥ 9♠ 3♦ flop, you have three jacks, three sevens, four sixes, and four queens as your outs.
That’s a total of 14 outs and every single one of them is to the nut straight.
Now think about 7♥ 6♠ 5♣ A♣ on the same 8♥ 9♠ 3♦ flop.
You have four tens, three fives, three sevens and three sixes for 13 outs. But look further and how many of those are actually to the nuts?
Only the three fives give you the nut straight. The rest of the time you’re making a non-nut straight and leaving yourself open to being “coolered.”
Also be careful when you flop a wrap on a two-flush board. The presence of a flush draw massively de-values your straight draw.
It’s no fun hitting a straight when it makes someone else a flush.
In Omaha drawing to the non-nuts can be expensive. You need to be aware not only of how many straight outs you have but also how many of those are nut outs.
A good rule of thumb for flush draws is that if it isn’t a draw to the nuts, you’d better have something to go along with it.
If you’re drawing to the second nuts or even worse, and your only plan to win the pot is to hit your flush, you’re in a whole lot of trouble.
In Omaha it’s very likely your opponent is drawing to the nuts, but even if he isn’t you have very small implied odds.
Unlike in Hold’em, where you can get paid off by hands worse than a flush, in Omaha it almost never happens.
You’d best have a better Plan A if you have a non-nut flush draw because hitting a flush sure ain’t it.
That said, nut flush draws are still strong hands - especially when you’ve got something else to go with it.
If you have anything and a nut-flush draw you’ve got yourself a great hand. If you’ve got a straight draw and a flush draw, you’ve got yourself a huge hand.
Play with equities by plugging your hands into a hand calculator. It might surprise you to find out how Omaha hands on the flop stack up to other ones.
For example: A♦ J♥ T♣ 9♦ vs. 7♠ 7♥ K♣ 5♣ on a 7♦ 8♦ 2♠ board
The flush draw plus a wrap is actually a 50.33% favorite over a made set.
In Hold’em you’re never the favorite against a set with a draw but in Omaha it can happen!
Sets in Omaha are still very strong hands. Sets turn into full houses, and full houses are big pot hands.
An Omaha caveat however is it’s not like in Hold’em where if you flop a set on the flop you just get it all-in.
In Omaha set-over-set scenarios are common and a lot of money has been lost with bottom set.
A set is still a very strong hand though and, just like everything in Omaha, if you’ve got a back-up plan to go along with it it makes your hand even stronger.
Two pair in Omaha is not that strong of a hand. Yes, it will win at showdown sometimes, but not all that often - and probably not when the pot gets big.
You need big hands to win in Omaha and hands that are locks in Hold’em can be trouble hands in Omaha.
With more cards come more chances to make mistakes. So when you’re learning you want to play extremely tight - especially out of position.
Mistakes are expensive. If you set out with a good game plan, play hands before the flop that can flop big and you carry that over to the flop, the turn becomes easier to play.
So will the river. You’ll cause your opponent to make more mistakes instead of you.
$200 PLO game, $200 effective stacks. You raise $5 with 5♠ 6♠ 3♦ 4♥ on the button. The big blind calls.
The flop comes 8♠ 5♥ 3♠.
How Good is Your Hand?
This is an example of a hand where you have no awesome hand but several weak hands. You have an open-ender, but only one end to the nuts. You also have a weak flush draw and a weak two pair.
Any one of these hands on their own would be weak and probably should be avoided, but together they are much stronger.
It’s possible that your opponent has a better flush draw, or a better two pair, or a better straight draw, but it’s highly unlikely your opponent has every one of your hands beat.
In this case, your hand is actually fairly strong.
There’s a running theme in Omaha. The weaker your made hand, the better the rest of your hand has to be. Or the weaker your draw, the better your main hand has to be.
If it’s somewhere in the middle and both are bad, you’re probably best off folding if there’s a lot of action.
Semi-Bluffs, Blockers and Combo Draws
In Omaha, just like Hold'em, you have to be able to win pots even when you don't have a big hand, that's where smart bluffing comes in.
The truth is a lot of what people call bluffing is just playing strong position and taking aggressive lines with drawing hands.
Semi-bluffing, for example, is really just betting and raising with a strong hand, even if it is a draw. And with four hole cards in PLO it's way more often to flop strong draws.
Check out the video below for more information on all these points and use the links at the end of the article to watch previous episodes of How Not to Suck at PLO.
More in the How to Not Suck at Pot-Limit Omaha series:
- How to Not Suck at PLO: Play to the Nuts
- How to Not Suck at PLO: Play Tight, Play in Position
- How to Not Suck at PLO: Avoid Weak Rundowns
- How to Not Suck at PLO: Don't Overvalue Aces
- How to Not Suck at PLO: Bad Hands Make PLO Impossible
- How to Not Suck at PLO: Hit the Flop Hard
- How to Not Suck at PLO: Start and End with a Plan
- How to Not Suck at PLO: The Five Commandments