Strategies With Different Stack Sizes in Pot-Limit Omaha

Vivian Saliba
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  • .@888poker Ambassador Vivian Saliba on different strategies when playing short or deep stacks in PLO.

  • Vivian @visaliba Saliba talks pros and cons when playing short or deep in pot-limit Omaha.

If you are a live cash game pot-limit Omaha player, you have probably already noticed that there is no convention or standard for how much players buy in when they first sit down at the table.

The last live PLO cash game I played, players could buy in for as little as 40 big blinds or as much as 200 big blinds. Some bought in short, and others bought in for the full amount. And most of the time, the strategy they played was based on the amount for which they had bought in.

For that reason, it is really worth paying attention to how much players buy in for when you play PLO cash games. I wanted to say a few words about the difference between playing short and deep stacks in PLO in order to highlight different strategies for each and what to look for when your opponents buy in either short or deep.

Playing PLO With a Short Stack

When players decide to buy in for the minimum allowed at the table in a PLO cash game, more often than not the ones doing so are recreational players, either less experienced or perhaps playing above their bankroll.

There are two very common styles played by these "short-stackers" — very loose or very tight. The ones who play many hands are hoping for a double-up once they hit certain equity on the flop. Meanwhile the tight players will fold a lot, waiting for aces or premium hands with which they'll try to get their chips in — for instance, by squeezing with a reraise.

Both of these short-stacked strategies can work sometimes, but there are some big issues with both of them.

If you play too many hands, you will essentially be playing a bad fundamental strategy preflop and your hand will constantly be dominated. As a consequence, as the hands proceed you will frequently be putting yourself in bad spots.

If you are under the impression most starting hands have similar equity in PLO, I have some bad news for you — they don't. If you insist on playing lots of poor starting hands, you will lose money in the long term.

By contrast, the tight players may enjoy the benefit of an equity edge since they are sticking with starting hands that rate to be better than their opponents'. But as anyone who has played PLO even a little bit knows, it is hard to get all the money in preflop, especially when your range is essentially face-up. Smart opponents aren't going to be eager to get all in with you before the flop when they know you're only playing the strongest hands.

When these tight players aren't able to pull off a squeeze play preflop and end up facing a multi-way situation on the flop, unless they hit the flop very well they will often make bad folds after getting exploited. Or even worse, they will find themselves getting involved against hands that are already crushing them or have good equity against them.

Playing PLO With a Deep Stack

There are many advantages to buying in deep in PLO live games. Let's start with the most obvious of them — you can win more money.

If you are a profitable player, you need chips to build believable bluffs. With deep stacks you can make your opponents fold their equity by making bets and raises against them. You can also get more value by betting and raising your strong hands.

Also worth noting is the fact that players with deep stacks tend to concentrate more on their decisions at each point in a hand. People in general are more likely to play better and be more focused if they are risking more.

When buying into a PLO cash game, if you aren't buying in for the maximum and there is a bad player at the table, you should at least buy in for the amount of that player's stack so you can win the maximum in case you get involved in a hand against him.

Pot-limit Omaha is a very swingy game. This is why instead of adopting game strategies that might make you vulnerable to developing bad habits or leaks — which can happen if you constantly play short-stacked — maybe you should play smaller stakes where you can buy in deep until you have a comfortable bankroll. Develop good fundaments before moving up, and discipline and hard work will lead you to the top.

Keep at it. I wish you good luck at the tables!

Primarily an online player, 888poker Ambassador Vivian "Vivi" Saliba has recently collected numerous live cashes including making the money in both the 2017 WSOP Main Event and 2017 WSOP Europe Main Event. Pot-limit Omaha is her favorite variant, and among her many PLO scores is an 11th place in the $10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 8-Handed Championship at the 2017 WSOP.

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