No limit Texas Hold'em

The difference between PLO and No Limit Texas Hold’em

As a very keen poker player then I play in numerous versions of the game but this year I have played far more PLO. I tend to play only at full ring which suits my style and this is also how I play whenever I play NLHE as well. However there are many differences in the two forms of poker and I want to look at how full ring PLO differs from full ring NLHE in a couple of key ways.

The concept of big pots

Whenever you play no limit hold’em in a full ring game then you are not necessarily looking to play big pots. This may sound strange but not once you understand what is happening and what mistakes your opponents are looking to make or can make. The average player at say the 0 level is far stronger at NLHE than they are at PLO although the gap is narrowing and fast.

In NLHE then if you have say a jack high flush and you get all in for 100bb and are called by an equally deep stack then you cannot be confident that your jack high flush is good. It may be at micro-stakes levels but as your opponents are improving the higher you go then their mistakes will get less and especially in big pots. So you will find that you need to play cautiously with hands like 8c-7c for example.

These can be very good hands in NLHE but a flush is not always the hand that you are trying to make. For example if the pot is escalating on a street by street basis and you make your flush then you are possibly buried underneath a bigger flush. In NLHE then an 8-7s can be used effectively in many ways.

Comparable to PLO

One such way is to use it as a “rundown hand” similar to in PLO. This is to out flop big pairs in deep stacked situations. Also the 8-7s can make the nut straight which could beat lower straights and stack them. The suited nature of the hand can be used to semi-bluff and to also overtake weaker hands like two pairs or TPTK and this is when the flush is very valuable. But it isn’t valuable in certain spots and you need to identify when these are.

In PLO then you are also looking for big pots as well but you can get more of an edge in big pots in this form of poker than you can in NLHE. This can primarily be created by good hand selection as opposed to your opponents poor hand selection. For example someone playing 6-6-4-4 is looking to flop a set but that set is shaping up to be either middle set or bottom set.

Staying out of trouble

If you make a set with 6-6-4-4 on a board of 10-8-4 and the turn and river are both jacks then you have what is called the “under full”. You would be losing to anyone with 10-10, 8-8, 10-J, 8-J or J-J. But you basically created the situation where this happened with your pre-flop hand selection. You need to be aware of just what hand you are looking to build in any form of poker. If your pre-flop hand has little hand strength then you are essentially playing the hand to win a small bluffed pot or a medium bluffed or semi-bluffed pot and no more.