Should You Slow Play the Flop in PLO?

Jay HoustonRe-published courtesy of our content partner Ante Up Magazine.

When is it correct to slow play on the flop in pot-limit Omaha by checking behind in position? The answer is rarely. For the most part it’s correct to never get tricky in PLO because you need to balance your ranges so often that betting tends to be the most optimal play in the long run.

Imagine you’re heads-up, in position and looking at a flop of 10-9-4 with two hearts and you hold 10-10-x-x. You should never really check behind in this situation for a few reasons: If your opponent has a set then you’re missing a golden opportunity of getting it in as a huge favorite.

If your opponent has a draw, you’re making him pay for that draw if he calls. If he check-raises with his draw we can get it in as a favorite most of the time.

Balancing your range: So when SHOULD we check behind? Most people would argue the exception comes when there’s a locked board (e.g. a flop of A-4-4 when we have A-A-x-x.

The logic in checking behind is: Your opponent usually doesn’t have much and you can possibly get him to bet into you on the turn with nothing.

Most people are hoping for that incredibly slim chance that the turn is something like a king and your opponent has K-K-x-x, but relying on coolers like that is not the way of the optimal ninja, now is it?

Even on this locked board I’d still not slow-play in most scenarios, and here’s why: If your opponent has a four, he’s not folding and you’re missing massive value on later streets.

You need to balance your range. You should be continuation-betting with most of your hands in this spot. Your opponent can still make a move on you with air and may even reverse float with a hand such as K-K-x-x or Q-Q-x-x.

The reasons for betting are better than the reasons for checking behind. Of course there are millions of scenarios in PLO, and checking behind is probably optimal against an insanely aggressive opponent known to barrel off his stack, but sticking to this rule will do you right most of the time. I know it’s not groundbreaking advice to bet when you have top set, but it’s pretty important to freshen up on the fundamentals of why you’re putting money in the pot.

— Jay Houston is a Team Pro with DeepStacks and a PLO specialist who crushes the mid-stakes online cash games.