Pot Limit Omaha, much more so than Texas Hold’em, is a game where drawing hands are of far greater importance. Why? Because starting with four instead of two hole cards means that draws are not only more common, they are also more likely to come down.
In Hold’em the standard draws are 9-out flush draws and 8-out straight draws. However, in Pot Limit Omaha there are drawing hands with far more outs than the meager 8 or 9! For example some hands can produce as many as 20 outs on the flop. With two cards to come on the turn and river, some drawing hands are even ahead of made pairs or two-pair hands!
Discerning the Draw
So just what sort of drawing hands should you play and what types of draws are worthy of the chase?
A lot depends on whether you are playing full ring or 6-max PLO. In full ring cash games drawing to non-nut hands can get you into a world of trouble. For example a hand like 6-6-5-5 is probably going to make bottom set. This is the type of hand that will win you a small pot or possibly lose you a big one.
It's logical when you think about it. Players at full ring tables tend to play big cards. A flop with fives and sixes probably won't create a lot of action for your set – unless an opponent has a flush draw. And, if they make their flush on the turn you will be the one having to come from very far behind to win!
Small pairs are best played with an open-raise on the button or a call to a single late position raiser - but they are dangerous and difficult hands to play.
Drawing to the Nuts in Position
The golden rule for drawing hands is the more opponents you face, the more you should be drawing to the nuts, as well as looking for that all-important redraw.
Many players feel cheated in PLO when they lose to an opponent with the same straight. However, their opponent had a little secret – they also had a flush draw, which they hit on the river!
There's nothing betting than having the nut straight on the turn and "freerolling" to a flush! This equity difference is vitally important to your long term earn rate. A hand like As-7s-6d-5d is infinitely better than a hand like As-7c-6d-5h.
The Ultimate Cool Down
In a huge pot a suited Ace, with a wrap straight draw, can quickly put a cooler on straight and weaker flush draws. Two or more players with made flushes on the river is routinely seen in PLO. A player with a king or queen-high flush is more than likely going to lose their whole stack to the better flush.
In fact, in 6-max PLO cash games an opponent may pay you off with any flush - depending on how deep they are. For that reason, drawing to the nuts in short-handed PLO games isn’t as important. However, you just cannot take for granted that your ten-high flush is good on the river and decide to value bet it or call an all-in.
Hands like A-7-5-2 unsuited are still junk in both 6-max and full ring formats.
Aggression & Position are Key
In PLO you can often play big draws very aggressively because you have a fantastic mixture of pot equity and fold equity – especially heads up or three-way. This is where position comes into its own. You can raise your nut-draws in position and build huge pots for yourself. You can also use the same aggressive tactics to win pots without having to make your draw.
In PLO, raising draws is the ultimate proof of a player's deep understanding of this tactical game.