5 tips for transitioning to PLO cash games

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I’ve been doing a lot of personal coaching recently to help improve the pot-limit Omaha skills of a few friends, and I was pretty taken aback by their general approach to the game. Most people starting out in PLO just immediately rely on their hold’em game to get by when that will only get you into trouble. I put together a few tips to prevent some crucial mistakes that are easily avoidable.

A-K suited is bad: Believe it or not, in PLO, A-Q suited is better than A-K suited. Having the ace and the king of the same suit is not an ideal situation because your value in making a flush usually comes from another flush that’s involved in the pot.

Keep that in mind when you’re asking yourself whether to raise {a-Spades}{k-Spades}{9-Hearts}{2-Diamonds} from early position.

Stop three-betting bad aces out of position: When I see a min-raised pot on a table with 100-plus-big-blind stacks, and the fish in the big blind pots it, pretty much everyone is licking their chops. Don’t be that guy! Until your three-betting image is wide enough, just call with A-A-9-7 rainbow when you’re in the big blind and watch the wonders of check-folding and saving your stack or flopping top set and dropping bombs.

Just fold bad kings: From early position and from the blinds, don’t three-bet with bad kings. Don’t even call. It’s where some of the best players in the world lose most of their money. Why? Because your edge (if you even have one) is incredibly marginal with K-K-7-2 against a random hand that’s going to be getting involved with you preflop. Trust me.

All of the money is made on the turn: As your PLO game starts to get better you’ll notice a trend of “do or die” on the turn. It’s time to commit or quit. Bad players typically make most of their mistakes on the turn, whether it’s calling with a bare flush draw or thinking bottom two pair is good enough to get it in. Don’t be afraid to let go of huge draws when facing a big bet on the turn; chances are even if you catch you aren’t getting paid off.

The goal: For long-term success in PLO, your goal should be to get weak players heads-up while you’re in position. That’s it. That’s all she wrote. The cards will fall how they may, but if you’re sticking to this plan it’s going to drastically increase your profitability.

— Jay Houston is a Team Pro with DeepStacks and a PLO specialist who crushes the mid-stakes online cash games.