Beating Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO) SNG’s – Basic Strategy Guide

Learn to beat Pot-Limit Omaha Sit and Goes (SNG’s) with the Tip Top Fox’s basic three-part strategy guide:

Pot-Limit Omaha Sit and Goes, or PLO SNG’s, offer players a new challenge where the formulaic strategy employed in No-Limit Hold ’em (NLHE) SNG’s is simply not as effective due to the pot-limit betting restrictions and the fact that no hand is usually more than a 65% favorite pre-flop. There are several key differences that NLHE players making the transfer to PLO should be aware of:

  • You MUST use two of your four hole cards to make the best hand, therefore you DO NOT have the nut flush holding just the bare ace on a four-card suited board.
  • The above point also applies when dealt three or four of a kind in your starting hand – you are extremely unlikely to flop a set or make a full house if you have three of the same card in your starting hand, and you can’t ever make quads.
  • Be wary of drawing to the non-nuts; a ten-high flush is unlikely to be the best hand come showdown in PLO, nor is the bottom end of the straight. 
  • Slow-playing is bad; with six different hand combinations out against you for every player in the pot, giving away free cards is tantamount to suicide. Top pair, top kicker is a long way from the being the nuts…
  • Play your big draws aggressively – a strong draw is often a favorite over a made hand and re-raising can give you two ways to win the pot; One – you make your draw, Two – your opponent folds. We will discuss this in more detail later on in the series.

Starting Hand Requirements

Good Pot-Limit Omaha SNG starting hands are those where all four cards work well together. Double suited run-down hands like A-K-Q-J down to J-10-9-8 have a great deal of potential, as do gap run-down hands like J-9-8-7 and the lower run-down hands like 10-9-8-7 down to 4-5-6-7. However, you should be wary of committing a large portion of your stack with them pre-flop as they are still speculative hands and any flush draws you may flop are not to the nuts. Be aware that sets and the naked nut straight with no improvements (no chance of your hand getting better on later streets) are vulnerable hands that can see you forced into committing chips to a pot where you are the underdog. 

Double-suited big pair hands like A-A-K-K down to A-A-T-T are strong hands, especially as you have two possible nut flush draws to hit in addition to sets and nut straight draws. However unsuited hands like A-A-3-9 or K-K-2-7 are weak starting hands as naked overpairs are unlikely to be the best hand at showdown. Suited A-K-X-X rag hands are worth a look if you can get in cheap but should not be overvalued when out of position or if the action has been fast and frantic pre-flop. Small double-paired hands are usually worth playing as they have great set-mining potential, but again be aware that bottom or middle sets may often be the second-best hand.

Overvaluing Aces

A lot of Pot-Limit Omaha newbies also overrate aces, and while they can be good some of the time, it’s important to remember that few hands are more than a 65% favorite pre-flop. Big pairs are so rarely the best hand on the river in a game where players have double the hole cards they have in NLHE. Even if you have an opponent dominated with something like A♥A♦K♦T♥ versus A♠K♣Q♣J♠ you are still only a 68% pre-flop favorite, as opposed to the 80% pre-flop favorite you would be in an NLHE game. This means that aces can be a tricky hand to play when the blinds are small and it’s tough to commit a significant amount of chips to the pot pre-flop.

You are rarely more than a 65% pre-flop favorite in Pot Limit Omaha

A lot of players only three and four-bet with hands like A-A-X-X and K-K-X-X also, making it easy to put them on a hand and extract maximum value from them when they can’t let the hand go. Plus there are plenty of bad A-A-X-X hands with a single, and sometimes no suits, which players overvalue and play poorly out of position, which brings us to our next point.

The Power of Position

The pot limit nature of the betting combined with the fact that no hand is a massive pre-flop favorite means you will be playing more flops than in NLHE. Most players are aware of the importance of position in poker, but in PLO where you get double the cards, position becomes twice as important. Don’t be scared of getting in cheap with position and outplaying looser more passive opposition.

Position also plays a key part in your bet-sizing, which is an important part of your game in a format where you can’t just pull the ‘all-in’ trigger to shut down your opponent’s draws like you can in NLHE. We will explore some of the above concepts in more detail as the series progresses, so check out the other two parts below:

Part 2: Beating Pot-Limit Omaha SNG’s – Early and Middle Stage Play

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