This lesson is about plays and actions that are common in PLO (but not so common in NLHE) and will be helpful for NLHE players hoping to transition to PLO in the future. There are five plays and concepts that will be discussed in this article: The stop-and-go, pot-sized bets, tighter value ranges, calling pot-sized 4-bets and a high percentage of 3-bets, and the differences in equity post flop. This article more pertains to 6-max and full-ring play and not so much heads-up comparisons with PLO and NLHE. Again, all hand examples are from 6-max and 100bb effective stacks.
THE STOP AND GO
The stop and go is a play that turns a passive line into an aggressive one. For example:
MP opens pre flop and all fold to the BB, who calls with QT98ss. The flop is 6d 7d 5c and the BB checks, MP bets, and BB calls. The turn is the Qc and BB pot leads into MP.
This play is one that is relatively uncommon in NL games. Oftentimes if a player flops the nuts, he will have such a large equity advantage that he will not have to fear the turn or even the river at times. The same cannot be said in PLO, where equity advantages are often slim at best.
The primary reason for this play is to capitalize on a blank turn, where a player’s equity is at its strongest. With so many potential draws on many boards, giving an opponent the opportunity to check back the turn can be a deadly mistake. This play is used solely out of position and can help mitigate some of the disadvantages of being out of position.
POT SIZED BETS
While pot sized bets (PSB) are sometimes present in NLHE, bet sizing is more often ½-3/4ths of the pot. In PLO, however, players are more likely to make pot sized bets. Similarly, pot-sized raises are also more frequent in PLO. There are a few reasons for this:
- Pot sized bets lower the stack to pot ratio (SPR) and make it easier for players to get all of their money in on earlier streets.
- Hand equity runs much closer in PLO, hence the reason to push equity edges as far as possible. Smaller bet sizes offer better odds for potential draws.
- NLHE offers more betting flexibility since there is no limit. Players can over bet at on any street, a luxury that PLO does not offer. Because of this, PLO players compensate by betting larger in situations that NLHE players do not.
How can you prepare for pot sized bets when playing PLO?
With pot sized bets being the standard, it is sometimes profitable to play more speculative hands against players that you know will overplay some hands post flop. If you know a player only 3-bets AAxx or KKxx (and nothing else) and then auto pots every flop, you can (generally) profitably call with a very wide range preflop. While you can call 3-bets preflop with a wide range a normal sense as well, playing against players who auto pot every flop makes it even easier.
When playing out of position with draws as the non-aggressor, one must understand that your opponent may decide to make pot sized bets. This makes it hard to check call with speculative hands out of position given poor odds and lack of control (given position and non-aggressor). In order to counter this, consider check-raising with your draws or bet/3-betting if your draw is good enough.
CALLING 4-BETS AND 3-BETS
The title is self-explanatory: Players frequently call pot sized 4-bets in PLO, something that is less common in NLHE (typically). The reasons for this have already been somewhat touched upon: equity running closer together, auto potting post flop, and others. But the primary reason is the first one: Because equity runs so close together in PLO, players are often given good enough odds to continue, even if they ARE facing a pot sized 4-bet.
For example, take two hands in PLO- As Ad Th Qs vs. 6d 3h 5s 9d. AAxx is obviously the strongest hand that one can have preflop, and yet, despite that, it is only a 58% favorite over 6359, a fairly terrible PLO hand by most standards.
When players 4-bet pot in PLO, it is generally with very strong hands- strong broad way connectors (AKQJ type hands), AAxx, good KKxx, and others. Contrast this with NLHE, where preflop 4-bets are generally neither pot-sized raises nor are they always necessarily very strong range wise. Furthermore, equity is generally so one sided in NLHE that a large favorite is generally established on the flop.
Despite players generally 4-betting with a strong 4-betting range in PLO, there are many other hands that fair just fine vs. premium hands, as shown earlier. Thus even when a premium hand is 4-betting preflop, opponents still generally have the odds to continue, even with weaker holdings.
Hands such as unpaired semi-connected hands (such as 675T) have enough equity to continue vs. premium pairs such as KKxx and AAxx. The key in the above statement is unpaired. Though a set in a 3-bet pot is generally the nuts (as in NLHE), it lowers your overall equity against premium holdings.
DIFFERENCES IN POSTFLOP EQUITY
When many NLHE players begin playing PLO, they often overvalue their hands. A hand such as a pair and a flush draw can be a very strong hand in NLHE- the same cannot be said in PLO. While it’s true that combo draws ARE still powerful in PLO, the risk of domination is ever more present due to the number of combinations possible. It is very important to recognize how quality a draw is when deciding whether or not to commit to it. While betting a poor draw when the aggressor is a standard play in PLO, the decision on whether to call a bet with a poor draw is often a concept that newly PLO converts struggle with (from NLHE). Things to consider when deciding whether or not to continue with draws as the non-aggressor:
- -Pot sized bets. Are you comfortable continuing on later streets despite facing larger bets?
- -Risk of domination (or reverse implied odds). Even if you hit your draw, are you still going to feel uncomfortable?
- -Position. In PLO, this is vital; perhaps even more so than in NLHE.
- -Opponent type. Are you going to get paid if you hit your draw? Or will he simply shut down?
These factors and many more are some that you should think about when deciding whether or not to continue with draws.
In conclusion, there are many other plays that are common in PLO that are not so in NLHE. The plays and concepts listed in this article are only a few. There are many other concepts that apply when comparing these two games; some of which include the differences in value betting and position. The transition from NLHE to PLO can be a difficult one, and experience and hard work can be greatly beneficial.