There is a lot of value in Pot Limit Omaha HiLo tournaments at this moment and this is why I have started to play them more and more lately. You can see unbelievable moves from some players, moves that you wouldn’t even see at cash tables or Texas Hold’em tournaments. The general level of players is quite poor and therefore just by avoiding the biggest mistakes and exploiting your opponents’ bad play you can make good money from PLO8 tournaments.
Basic Pot Limit Omaha HiLo tournament strategy can be divided into three different stages. Start game, bubble game and final table. In this first part we go through the start stage strategy and starting hands and leave the bubble game and final table strategy to part 2.
Start game strategy is when you play either tight passive or tight aggressive preflop. Tight here means even a bit tighter than on normal Full Table cash games, and passive means that we rarely raise preflop. The flop changes the situation so much in Pot Limit Omaha HiLo that committing a lot of chips before it is not very clever (in tournaments). This is even more true if you are playing against players on whom you have a significant post flop edge.
If you choose to play tight aggressive, we raise almost with every playable hand from middle and late position. The goal now is to gather a big stack and bully smaller ones later in the tournament, especially during the bubble stage. This approach has more variance than tight passive strategy and therefore a more passive way is recommended at least first times you try out PLO8 tournamets.
Since you are only limping in most cases, you play more pulling hands that play better in multiway pots. You can raise with AA2x, AA3x and AA4x from middle and late position and with a wider range from the button and cut off if folded to you.
Examples of good starting hands:
AA2x, AA3x, AA4x, A23x, A24x, A25x, A2xx, A34x, A35x, A3xx, A45x.
If you can go all in with AAWx preflop against one or two players, then you do it. Otherwise you want to see the flop before committing a lot of chips.
When the blinds are $10/20, $15/30 you can try to catch a yatzee flop with marginal hands. I.e. four broadway cards or two big pairs, 2345 etc, trying to get a big stack that enables you to play more hands later in the tournament.
Just like your preflop play, your post flop play is more cautious than in regular cash games. This is simply because you can’t buy more chips in tournaments (if it’s not re-buy tourney) as you can in cash games. You need at least top pair + nut low (draw) on the flop to start committing more chips. The more players in the hand the more draws you need to continue from the flop. Although cautious playing is recommended both pre and post flop, don’t be afraid to be aggressive with your great hands post flop. Value bet big when you have a winning hand as the opponents are calling loosely. Be cautious when value betting with nut low and low pair –> low limit tournament players won’t fold easily and sometimes they may have you quartered.
During the start stage of the tournament we set the bluffing to minimum, especially preflop. There is almost no fold equity in small PLO8 tourneys when the blinds are small, so betting has to be done with good made hands or big semi bluffs. Exceptions to this rule would make the bubble stage of the tournament when you should be quite loose aggressive, particularly if you happen to have a big stack.
If you follow the above advice you will find yourself in top20 in 100 player tournament many times. At this stage, the blinds get bigger, so stealing and defending them become important. Additionally, if ten players get money, you are closing on the bubble stage and for these reasons, you should start loosening your starting hand range and become more aggressive.