Three Betting in Omaha Hi/Lo by John Cernuto
Even though Limit Omaha Hi/Lo is often considered to be a post-flop game, winning tournament players know that it’s important to regularly raise and three-bet their opponents before the flop, especially as the blinds and antes increase.
Why? Because applying pre-flop pressure against weaker opponents lets you create better post-flop situations and, on occasion, even lets you steal the blinds and antes with little resistance. With this in mind, the question then becomes, how often should you three bet? My answer is, as often as you possibly can without worrying about becoming short stacked.
Say you’re sitting on somewhere between 40 and 50 big blinds. This is the time when you should be accumulating chips, which means opening up your game and three betting the table in order to create heads up, post-flop situations. Your stack size is very important here because you want to make sure you can comfortably three-bet without becoming crippled if you have to give up on the hand after the flop. If you’re sitting on 35 big blinds or less, I’d recommend slowing down on the three-bet strategy unless you’re holding a monster hand like A-A-2-X.
Of course, there’s more to three betting than just throwing in an extra raise before the flop – you want to be smart about when you decide to pump up the pot. Let’s say a player in middle position puts in a raise and you’re sitting in late position with a hand like As-Qs-Jh-3d or Ad-Kc-Jh-2c. I don’t like flat calling with these kinds of hands here because I’m giving the players in the blinds better odds to follow suit and am creating a spot where four or five people could end up seeing the flop. That’s a lot of bullets to dodge.
Since these hands have a good chance of taking the high end of the pot, I think a better play in this position is to three bet in order to try and force the blinds out of the picture and to get heads up with the original raiser. (Read Perry Friedman’s tip on Omaha Hi/Lo Strategies to learn more about the importance of playing for the high end of the pot.) Once I’ve done this, I’m going to continuation bet after the flop every time, whether I connect or not. If my opponent plays back, I’m going to slow down since he’s almost certainly connected and may be well ahead. But, on the times he folds to my bet, I’m going to take down a nice sized pot.
Because of my aggressive approach in PLO Hi/Lo, I often get asked how to play back at opponents who, like me, try to three bet whenever possible. My answer is to call their extra bets pre-flop, assuming I have a playable hand, and hope to outplay them after the flop. The key is not to obsess about trying to see "cheap" flops because if you’re stealing enough blinds and antes with your own raises, you can afford to make calls that less aggressive players won’t.
Remember, even though post-flop play is arguably the most important aspect of PLO Hi/Lo, well timed pre-flop aggression can be a great way to pick up some extra chips on the way to the win.