Omaha Poker Strategy: Pot Control In PLO

Omaha is, as we have pointed out many times, a game of draws. You’ll play many more speculative hands and you’ll see a lot more nut hands being made. There are three things that affect how you will approach any given hand where you’re attempting to draw the nuts: position, relative stack sizes and the size of the pot. While there’s nothing you can really do about the first or the second when it comes your turn to make a play, the third is something you can influence when you exert pot control through your betting.

Preflop Pot Control In Omaha
The biggest determining factor in pot control before the flop is knowing when you should (and shouldn’t) three-bet. To better define three-betting in PLO, let’s look at the most common scenario: one player has opened with a pot-sized raise and another player re-raises the pot. When you make that three-bet in a situation like this, you’re generating a pretty large pot before the flop and you run the risk of becoming pot-committed, which means you have to be careful.

There are three factors that should determine whether you should three-bet and take control of the pot: the cards you’re holding; stack sizes; position. If you’re in the blinds or under the gun, there are probably very few hands that you want to three-bet with before the flop. Later position, though, gives you access to a broader array of hands that you can play and it offers you a chance to win the pot then and there. Even if that doesn’t occur, though, you’re still playing in late position for a big pot and you have an advantage.

If the person after you four-bets, though, you should consider the fact that they may have a much stronger hand. If you’ve got a deep stack and a solid hand, then you can (and probably should) call or even raise if you’re looking at AA KK double suited.

Pot Control After The Flop
This becomes a lot more tricky, as you can imagine, as everyone can now see what will be a big chunk of your final hand that you’re playing. How you play these hands depends on the pot size in relation to everyone’s stack sizes. Let’s use an example where the flop comes down 7s8d9s and you’ve got JhTh6d6s. While that wasn’t a great starting hand, you’ve just flopped the nuts. What should you do? If you said “bet hard,” you want to reconsider. You may actually want to try to keep the pot size down.

After a bet and a raise have gone to you, it’s actually better to just call and see the turn instead of pot committing too much here. After all, what are the nuts on the flop may not be the nuts on the turn or the river and if the pot is big enough to get into without spending extra chips, then you probably want to call and leave it like that. Why? Because when you lack redraws on a flop like this, it’s possible that someone has the same nut straight but might well have a shot at redrawing a higher straight, flush or full house.

If you’ve made it through the turn, however, then you can start going hard again because it’s usually hard to keep the pot size down after this point and you’re already committed. Just make sure that you’re careful when you’re playing out of position and that even the strong hands can involve some tricky play.

As you can see, pot control is not as easy to learn as other aspects of the game, but working to force your opponents to play the game to the beat you’re playing is a great addition to your poker strategy skill set.