Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Low (PLO8) SNG Strategy: Early and Mid-Stage Play

The Tip Top Fox walks you through the early and middle stages of a Pot-Limit Omaha Hi/lo (PLO8) Sit and Go (SNG)

In our previous article – Pot-Limit Omaha Hi/Lo (PLO8) SNG Strategy – we covered the basics of PLO8 and discussed the adjustments needed with regards to starting hand requirements. Here we will examine the fundamentals of PLO8 and look at the strategies required to beat the early and middle stages so you can cruise into the cash spots.

Early Stages: Tight is Right

PLO8 makes some players limp call for victory a ridiculous amount, especially at the lower stakes. Combine this with the pot-limit betting structure and you will be playing a lot of flops so you need to pick your spots and starting hands carefully.

In early position you should be playing premium hi/lo starting hands like A-A-2-2 to A-A-5-5, A-A-K-K to A-A-T-T, top rundown hands like A-2-3-4 to A-4-5-6 (preferably with a suited ace). In the later positions the closer you get to the Button, you can mix in the odd PLO-hi double-suited Broadway rundown/big pair hand.

Play tight for the first few levels and let the clowns knock themselves out chasing runner, runner low draws for a quarter of the pot – if you play your cards right they may even gift you with chips on their way out.

When you find a hand you want to see a flop with in early position you are better off limp-calling, even with a monster, as it is almost impossible to check-raise a large enough portion of your stack pre-flop to shove the flop. Even if you can, during these early levels when the blinds are low you have no pre-flop fold equity and will find folks chasing draws and calling to the river with any mixed bag of spanners.

Raise to thin the field, but be wary of committing a large portion of your stack unless you have the made high – preferably with decent redraws – or both the nut high and low draws, or a massive nut high draw if there is no low.

Middle Stages

As the blinds begin to increase, so do the size of the pots. At this stage of the tourney it is possible to either check-raise most of your stack pre or get it in on the flop.

This is where your tight image will come to your aid. Consider limp re-raising from early position with your big hands to thin the field; not only will this increase your fold equity, but you also get first stab at the pot. Be aware though, PLO8 is a game with very little bluffing, so if you totally miss don’t be afraid to abort the mission and conserve chips, unless you are already pot committed.  

Raising and limp re-raising with big Broadway hands now becomes viable as you can bet a large enough portion of your stack (40% plus) to provide you with fold equity against the players left still to act.

Stack-to-Pot Ratio

As the blinds climb you will need to start to think about a concept vital to all pot-limit poker games – the stack-to-pot ratio (SPR). Simply put, this is the ratio of the effective stacks in play in any given hand compared to the current size of the pot. For example, if you had a stack of T1,000 and the pot is 100 then your SPR is 1,000/100, which is an SPR of 10.

However, if you were playing in this 100-chip pot against an opponent who only had a T500 stack – with an SPR of 5 – then the effective SPR would be 5 as the size of the smallest stack is all that you can potentially play for.

This is particularly key in a game like PLO or PLO8 as due to the pot-limit betting structure the SPR number denotes the number of pot-sized bets you and an opponent have available.

An SPR of 1 means that there is only 1 pot-sized bet before a player is all-in; an SPR of 4 would mean that heads-up, there is enough for either two pot-sized bets, or a pot-sized bet and a pot-sized raise. When playing heads-up an SPR of 13 is equivalent to three pot-sized bets.

In the early stages of a PLO or PLO8 SNG all players are deep stacked in comparison to the blinds, with SPR’s of 75+. The lower your or an opponent’s SPR is, the higher the chances that a player is committed to the pot, and the higher the risk of elimination.

When both players have an effective SPR of 13 post-flop, the only way all the chips end up in the pot is if a player raises at any point during a hand. This means that as the blinds increase and your SPR shrinks below this, you are at risk any time you enter a raised pot. As mentioned previously, an SPR of 4 only gives you two pot-sized bets so you need to consider what hands you are willing to commit with pre-flop the lower your SPR becomes.

Now read about how to close out the tournament and play around the bubble in part three – PLO8 SNG Strategy: The End Game

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