Pot Limit Omaha Strategy: What Should You Know About Kings (And Other High Pairs) in PLO?

Jakub Szczotka
19 wrz 2023
4 mins read

Our recent article looked at inexperienced players' most common mistakes, including playing too aggressively in multiway pots and overplaying Aces. This time, we'd like to give you additional advice, emphasizing the strategy for hands containing other high pocket pairs.

Let's start with a recommendation that holds true for most types and formats of poker games.

Do not open limp in the Pot Limit Omaha game

It doesn't matter whether you would like to see flop cheaply or trap!

Cash PLO strategy is as "simple" as that: you either raise or fold preflop

Omaha poker is played almost exclusively in a cash game format. This fact has two most important consequences:

  1. there is no ICM factor (since all decisions are driven by CEV),
  2. the rake is influencing the ranges you should play.

Since most Pot Limit Omaha games run on low-to-mid stakes, the rake is a factor you must pay attention to. Due to its existence, you won't be able to play many borderline hands in highly-raked poker games profitably. Playing tighter is an efficient way to mitigate the impact of high rake. And if you play tight, there's usually no strong incentive to limp any hand combinations when you can open them.

There are some fringe cases in which limping is a viable option, but as a rule of thumb, you can remove limping from your Omaha poker strategy, especially if you're still learning the game.

A strategy for raising the Button with low (up) and high rake (down)

Do not get too attached to high pocket pairs in your hole cards

Having connected, double suited, high pairs in your hole cards (like JJ87ds) is a great feeling. However, while such hands are beautiful, they can also be deceitful.

We've already stressed that the average winning hand in PLO is much stronger than in No Limit Hold'em, so you must be careful not to overplay hands that look stronger than they are.

We've tackled this issue in our article about the most common preflop mistakes and briefly discussed this in our piece about playing Aces preflop.

In this context, it's also worth leaning into the subject of playing other high pocket pairs in Pot Limit Omaha. The more important thing to consider is:

Solid side cards make or break the value of most holdings

It's especially true regarding preflop - and it's one of the most important things to remember if you start playing PLO. When you play Texas Hold'em, folding Kings preflop is rarely a right play, as you crush every other holding your opponent can have except for Aces. The situations in which you have KK and your opponent has AA are rare and generally considered coolers - i.e. a setup in which both players' hands are so strong that neither can fold.

The equities are much closer in Pot Limit Omaha, so you must construct your preflop strategy differently. Generally speaking, stacking off with any Aces in a heads-up pot before the community cards are dealt won't get you in trouble (you'll almost always be ahead, or close to 50% in the worst-case scenario). The same is very far from true for KKxx combinations.

Since there is much less incentive to stack off preflop (you rarely can expect to have more than ~66% equity), most Omaha poker players in your average game will be very passive and won't keep on potting unless they have exclusively an AAxx hand.

Naturally, AAxx combos are the bane of your KKxx hands. As a result, whenever your passive opponents become very active, you rarely should put a ton of money into the pot preflop with KK. Kings are the most effective as a 3b or 4b, mainly against overly aggressive players who will likely overvalue their own hands. Against so-called maniacs, the best hands resolving around KK combos will do just fine; you'll get a big portion of your stack being mostly good, and the post flop will be relatively easy to play on a low stack-to-pot ratio).

One more critical condition KKxx's hands can meet is having an Ace. An Ace in your hole cards drastically lessens the probability your opponent will have AAxx themselves and improves your playability when there is an Ace among the community cards.

Speaking of having a certain card in your hand, there is another quality to remember regarding Kings. Whenever you choose a hand to 4bet bluff (a rare occurrence, but it might happen), choose one that does not contain Kings itself. That way, you'll increase the likelihood of your opponent having KKxx hands, which will lean towards folding, improving your folding equity.

Not all kings are open-raises in PLO

One of the strongest points of Kings, Queens and Jacks is the ability to set-over-set people

It is also true for other high pairs, like QQ-JJ, which have decent raw equity but seldom be a winning hand when they are just an overpair. That brings us to another important point:

The lower your pocket pair is, the more important are its side cards. Aces (and Kings, to some extent) retain some of their playability on static boards when you have an overpair and not much going on with your side cards.

At the same time, Queens and Jacks, with no serious backup, will play poorly, especially when we consider that people in your average Omaha poker game are very call-happy, resulting in most flops going multiway.

Omaha hands can be deceptive

Differentiating between good and bad hands consisting of pairs can be tricky at first, but it's not impossible.

That's why we've created PLO Genius, a poker tool that will help you learn what qualities good starting hands should have and how to navigate your preflop Omaha poker strategy.