Make the Most Out of Your Poker Experience: The PLO Edition

Jakub Szczotka
25 paź 2023
7 mins read

Playing poker is challenging, even if you're an experienced player, navigating the game you're comfortable with. When you are moving up the stakes, switching to a new format or trying to learn a new poker game, things can get considerably more difficult.

In this article, we'll share some simple insights that might help you improve your experience with Pot Limit Omaha, whether you're just starting your online poker adventure or have already played another format.

Slow and steady usually wins the race

Understand the poker variance

Variance is one of the most important terms related to long-term results. In practice, "poker variance" represents the difference between the expected outcome of your decisions and the actual one.

Take a down-to-earth example: whenever you're going all-in and have 50% equity in the pot of 200 chips, you'll end up with 100 chips on average (that's the expected value - EV - of your play). In reality, you'll win the whole pot of 200 chips or lose the hand and have 0 chips (for simplicity, we omit chopped pots). Every poker session you play consists of decisions with specific expected values. If you're running well (i.e. you are lucky), you'll win more money than the expected value. If, on the other hand, you're running bad (i.e. you are unlucky), you'll be winning less than the EV of your plays. What's even worse, you might be losing money while you "should" be winning.

It might sound very unfair, and we won't deny that the variance is brutal for professional poker players and amateurs alike. However, that's one of the factors that keeps the games alive.

Good players lose periodically in unlucky ways, but at the same time, bad players win occasionally due to pure luck. The first group will likely asses the influence of luck on their results more accurately and will steadily improve. The second group will probably attribute their wins to their presumed skill and the losses to bad luck, making them return to the games without thinking about their own abilities, keeping the poker ecosystem alive.

Understanding poker variance will help you deal with your sessions' negative outcomes. Of course, the topic of variance is very subtle and nuanced, but you should realize its existence and how much it can influence your results.

It's especially crucial in Pot Limit Omaha, where equities run closer than in No Limit Hold'em, meaning you'll often be stacking off in a 60/40% situation rather than 75/25%. As a result, swings in PLO may be harsh even if you are no stranger to how No Limit hold'em cash games work.

So, how can you lower the variance impact on your poker game?

An average AA hand vs an average KK has less equity than you might think

Keep proper bankroll management

A few universal rules make every professional poker player's life easier, and keeping your bankroll healthy is one of them.

What is a proper poker bankroll management strategy? There is no universal answer since it will differ between professional poker players playing for a living and amateur players playing primarily for fun. The second group sometimes won't even bother thinking about having a poker bankroll, which may work fine for them.

However, we assume that you aim to be a winning poker player, and in that case, you should develop a poker bankroll management strategy.

There are two essential things every poker player should assess: dependence on the money from their winnings and their tolerance to the risk. Most professional players rely heavily on the money they win at the poker table, and their bankroll is a work tool. Therefore, even if you're a winning player, you should keep your bankroll as big as possible to minimize the risk of going broke.

The second important factor is risk tolerance. The bigger it is and the more you stay focused while losing, the less strict your poker bankroll management can be. If you can keep calm and play your best game even while losing, you'll need fewer buy-ins than more risk-averse players.

Of course, the real-life cases are complex and are sums of many factors. In general, proper bankroll management assumes having 50-150 buying for your stakes - the more confident you are in your poker skills and less dependent you are on the money from poker, the more freely you can act.

If we have to pick one value, we'd advise keeping more or less 100 buy-ins for your current stakes. It's a value big enough to give you some room for errors and prevent you from feeling pressured by bad results.

An excellent poker tool to visualize the effect of the variance on your result is a primedope variance calculator. It's a great way to familiarize yourself with what's "normal" and what to expect in terms of variance in poker. Toying with Primedope will help you develop a feel for proper bankroll management.

Result may vary. A lot!

While we are at it, it's worth emphasizing that you should not keep your whole poker bankroll on one online poker site - even very respectable card rooms can fall, and many promising poker careers have been set back or crushed by losing an entire bankroll due to unforeseen events.

Keep your poker mindset healthy

A good mental state is necessary to perform well in any form of competition, and it's no different if you want to play poker well. The game can be very rewarding and unrewarding in a matter of days (tournament players know that exceptionally well).

Bad variance can make winning feel like an impossible task. Periodically, every poker player encounters severe streaks of events when nothing seems to work out. While you can't do much about bad runouts, your draws busting, and your opponents getting there, you can do much about how you react to them.

One thing that separates many great poker players from mediocre ones is their mental game. There are hands and situations in which you'll have to lose, no matter what. What's important is to keep playing your A-game and avoid falling prey to tilt.

Quite often, keeping a cool head after an unfortunate loss may prevent you from making a terrible play dictated only by your will to get unstuck. Saving a few Big Blinds here and there might not seem like a big deal, but over time, these small savings will add up to bigger numbers, influencing your winnings heavily.

The bad and simultaneously good news is that there's no universal advice on keeping your mindset in good shape, as various things work for different people.

For starters, we recommend trying a few things to see what works best for you.

Keep this muscle in a great shape!

Fix your sleep schedule

It's surprising how little attention we pay to proper sleep nowadays. Many poker players are guilty of having absurd and unsustainable sleep schedules. Since many online grinders started very young, they might get away with sleeping poorly for a while, but bad habits will take their toll sooner or later.

Simply put, how we sleep influences almost every activity in our lives, and playing poker can be very mentally exhausting (especially high-stakes). Ensuring you regenerate efficiently is a solid foundation for performing well at your poker games and preventing silly mistakes.

Develop a hobby

Many players spend much of their free time thinking about the game, reliving their biggest pots from their last sessions and wondering what they could have done better. Doing so is common, and it often improves your mood when things go your way.

However, tormenting yourself over recent losses or bad outcomes becomes very easy when you are on a losing streak (or a downswing). The fact that poker is a vital part of the lives of poker aficionados or poker professionals is quite normal (it's a job for that second group, after all), but maintaining a work-life balance is critical to performing well at the tables.

A side activity, a hobby - whatever you want to call it - is a way to ensure your mind won't be occupied by poker 24/7, and your brain will have a chance to regenerate and rest.

Be up-to-date with the current poker strategy

Poker is an ever-evolving game. However, now we know much more about how "we should play poker" than several years ago; much remains to be discovered. The optimal strategy is constantly adjusted and improved, and the environment and "average player" tendencies also change. It's true for No Limit Hold'em for PLO and any other poker game.

Regular studying is the best way to be up-to-date and to keep your confidence high. For many players, studying is also a great way to keep their interest in the game alive.

When it comes to studying poker, there are a lot of ways to do so. If you want to explore the PLO world, the correct preflop strategy is the absolute must, and there's no better way to do so than with our preflop poker solver - PLO Genius.

With its help, you'll quickly learn which hand categories prefer specific actions in certain spots. And we bet your average opponent is far from knowing what to do in most cases!

And the best part? You can try PLO Genius completely for free!