Wraps, Semi-Bluffs, Blocker-Bluffs – How Not to Suck at PLO Ep. 4

Published on 2 March 2016 by Pokerlistings 1966
In the fourth episode of our latest beginner PLO strategy series we explain a few key concepts that may be new to you if you're coming from a Texas Hold'em background. We break down wrap draws, which are straight draws that can have as many as 20 outs. We show you how to bluff with your big draws and we also explain blocker bluffs, which happen when you hold one or more cards your opponent would need to make a big hand. Since you get four hole cards in Pot-Limit Omaha, draws are way more common and it's also possible to make way stronger draws than you're used to in Hold'em. For that reason it's really important that as a beginner you learn how to play your draws the right way. Semi-bluffing is a move you should definitely be familiar with if you've played Hold'em, but in PLO it's way more important. So far in this poker strategy video series we've emphasized how important it is to make the nuts in Pot-Limit Omaha if you're trying to win a big pot at showdown, but that shouldn't be the only time you're winning pots. Just like in Hold'em, it's really important to be able to win pots even when you don't have a huge hand. Check out episode 4 of How Not to Suck at PLO to learn all about wrap draws, semi-bluffs and blocker bluffs, and keep an eye out for episode 5 which will explore the different kinds of opponents you're likely to face at the PLO table.
So far in this series we've spent a lot of time telling you that in PLO, if you're trying to win a big pot at showdown you probably need to have the nuts to do it.

But that raises two important points.

First, if we're always folding all our non-nut hands, we should probably be concerned with our opponents constantly bluffing us.

And second, since you don't make the nuts very often, how are you going to win pots the rest of the time?

We're going to tackle the first question in our next video and it has to do with understanding your opponents and when they're likely to be bluffing.

The second question is what we'll explore today and the truth is, in PLO, just like Hold'em, it's really important to be winning pots even when you don't have a huge hand.

The Power of the Semi-Bluff

Semi-bluffing refers to betting or raising with a draw and if you've played lots of Hold'em you should already be familiar with the concept.

You don't have a made hand yet but you decide to take an aggressive line based on the strength of your draw and other factors like having position or your opponent showing weakness.

So instead of just banking on hitting your draw to win the hand, you're giving yourself two ways of winning the pot because your opponent might just fold.

In PLO since you have four hole cards, draws are a lot more common and it's also possible to have much stronger draws than you're used to in Hold'em.

For that reason there's a lot more semi-bluffing.

Not a True Bluff

The truth is, even though it's called a semi-bluff, betting or raising with a strong draw isn't really bluffing.

If you have big combination straight and flush draw, for example, chances are you're a favorite to win the hand anyway, so it's a lot more accurate to say you're just betting and raising because you have a strong hand, even if it is a draw.

But before we look at what conditions are best for semi-bluffing, I'll explain a special draw you may not have seen before.

Wrap Draws Explained

If you've never played Omaha before, wrap draws are going to be a new concept for you.

In Hold'em the best straight draw you can have is an open-ender, meaning you have eight outs, four at the top end of the straight and four at the bottom.

In Omaha, however, it's possible to have a straight draw with as many as 20 outs, meaning you could actually be the favorite to win the hand.

Imagine you're holding T965 and the flop comes 8-7-2.

Any four, five, six, nine, ten or jack will make you a straight. Now imagine you have a flush draw to go with it and you can see that sometimes you can be a big favorite to make the best hand, even though technically all you have is a draw.

Good Conditions for Semi-Bluffing

When you're deciding whether to take an aggressive line with your draws there are more factors to consider than just your cards.

Is your opponent a tight player who folds everything except the nuts?

Has he indicated strength by betting or raising so far in the hand, or has he been showing weakness by checking to you on every street?

Do you have position in the hand? It's always better to bluff in position since if your opponent does call, you'll get to see what he does on the next betting round before making another decision.

Look for spots where you have a strong draw and some of these other factors working for you before deciding to semi-bluff.

Bluffing with Blockers

Another good spot for bluffing in PLO is when you don't have the nut hand, but you do have some of the cards that your opponent would need to make the nuts.

Imagine the board is KQ2 all spades and you have the ace of spades but no flush draw. Even though you can't make a flush, you do know that your opponent can't have the nut flush.

If he's the kind of player who you know will be scared to play a big pot without the nuts, you can use your blocker to take an aggressive line and try to push him off his hand, even if he does have a weaker flush.

Naked bluffs like these are a lot more dangerous since you don't have any outs to fall back on if you do get called so use them sparingly, and only when the conditions are right.

Understanding Your Opponents

Whether it's Texas Hold'em, Pot-Limit Omaha or any other kind of poker, if you can understand how your opponents think and play, you'll be able to beat them, and that's exactly what we're going to explore in the next video.

We'll break down a few of the common styles of players you'll encounter at the PLO tables and we'll give you some tips on how to exploit them and protect yourself from being exploited.

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