Playing Aces in PLO Cash Games and MTTs

Playing aces in PLO is highly recommended because, like in NL Hold'em, they are powerful hands. However, they require a different approach.

A pair of aces in the hole is the best starting hand in No-Limit Texas Hold’em. Looking down at aces is always a great feeling because you know you have the best hand right now. Playing aces in PLO is also a good idea, but not all “pocket rockets” are created equally.

PLO, or Pot-Limit Omaha, is a hugely complex game, especially regarding starting hands. No-Limit Hold’em has 1,326 possible combinations of starting hands. How many does PLO have? A staggering 270,725 is the answer! The seven top PLO starting hands contain aces, with A-A-K-K double-suited being the strongest. For example, As-Ad-Ks-Kd. It is possible to make sets, nut flushes, Royal Flush, and more with thins hand.

New Omaha players make the mistake of playing aces in PLO regardless of their other hole cards. They are seemingly preprogrammed to get involved whenever they see a pair of aces in their hand. This is especially true if they come from a hold’em background. Playing aces in PLO is recommended, but it is important to understand their relative value.

Playing Aces in PLO: Understanding Different Holdings

Let us start with playing aces in PLO when you have the strongest of holdings. Double-suited hands are incredibly strong in PLO games because they give the player many options after the flop. A-A-K-K is the best PLO starting hand, followed by A-A-J-T double-suited, and A-A-Q-Q double-suited.

Feel free to raise these premium aces from any position at the table. You likely have the best hand, have a good chance of flopping the best hand, so build the pot while you have plenty of equity.

The next tier of aces in Omaha are double-suited or contain a couple of Broadway cards. For example, As-Ad-8s-5d or As-Ad-Jc-Th. The first example allows you to make the nut flush, but not much else. The second makes it possible to make Broadway straights but no flushes. Seeing a flop with these hands is a good idea, but tend to only raise from late position.

Playing aces in PLO that have no other connectivity is risky but a viable strategy. As-Ac-9d-5h is playable and you want to see a flop, but must proceed carefully. You hope to flop top set because that is all you can do with these hands. Expect to fold a lot on most flops.

Common Mistakes

Overvaluing the strength of your hand is the number one mistake when playing aces in PLO. Players raise and three-bet preflop with any old pair of aces, thinking they are odds on to win a big pot. However, a naked pair of aces on a flop such as 7s-6c-2d only has around 60% equity against an opponent also holding a pair. It’s better than a coinflop, but only just.

Slow-playing aces preflop is another major boo-boo. Indeed, slow-playing aces has its merits sometimes, but you do not want several callers in the hand. More callers mean more hands possibly outdrawing you.

Stack To Pot (SPR) Ratio

Stack sizes are vitally important in all forms of poker, but especially when playing aces in PLO. Stack To Pot ratio, or SPR, plays a major role in PLO because pots often grow huge quickly.

SPR is the size of your stack in comparison to the pot. For example, the pot is $100 and your stack is $400. Your SPR is 4 (400/100). Low SPR situations mean it is more likely you are going all-in. Higher SPRs result in your playing multiple streets before committing your stack.

Getting your stack in with an SPR of 1, which means you have a pot-sized bet left, requires only 33% equity in order to be profitable. However, an SPR of 5, meaning you are deep-stacked, required 45% equity. In addition, an SPR of just 0.5, which happens when you are short-stacked or have a short-stacked opponent, needs only 25% equite for profitability.

Playing aces in PLO is hardly ever a bad thing. But, and here is the but, do not get married to them, especially post-flop. “American Airlines” have claimed the stack of many PLO grinders over the years.

Brad Johnson

You name the game, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Brad has either played it or placed a wager on it! Brad calls himself a natural gambler, and someone who gains as much enjoyment from writing about the crazy game of poker as he does playing it.


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