The Importance of Position in PLO Play

Playing in position is one of the most important elements of becoming a successful poker player, and in no game is that more evident than Pot Limit Omaha (PLO).

When we talk about being in position, we mean on, or closer to the button than any opponent, allowing us to act last on every post-flop street. Being in position leads to losing smaller pots and winning bigger ones, a recipe for success.

Because PLO is a pot limit game, it is much easier to control the size of the pot when you’re in position, and allows you to better assess the strength of your opponent’s holding.

Out of position players soon find the risk in checking a strong hand with the intention of check-raising, as wily opponents will take free cards. When out of position, often your best option is to bet, but because of the pot limit nature of the game, those bets are going to be relatively small.

Betting also reveals the strength of your hand, allowing opponents to get away cheaply, or worse, call and bet cards that change the board on subsequent streets, whether they connect with them. For example, if you’re out of position but flop the nuts with no redraw on a flop of 7-8-9 with two diamonds, while your 10-J-x-x may be good now, if your bet on the flop is called, there are so many danger cards that it is hard for you to reach the river and be confident you’re still winning.

If the turn/river card is a Diamond, a Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten or a Jack, and you check, the in-position player can put maximum pressure on you by betting the turn and river, whether they hit or not. Even if they don’t hold Diamonds themselves (perhaps they flopped a set and are hoping for a board pair) they can semi-bluff the Diamond turn, knowing it is unlikely they are facing a flush.

Position is also useful in adopting orphan pots, those where it becomes obvious no one has anything and are just waiting for someone to bet and pick them up.

If the board from the previous example, 7-8-9, is checked around, the player on the button is almost entitled to put in a bet and pick up the dead money representing the straight. On flops like 7-8-9 that don’t change on the turn or river, it is almost painful watching the slow rounds of checks, with the whole table almost willing someone to bet something and put this hand out of its misery!

The same can be said on flush or paired flops - if no one has a big hand, the button or in position player picks up the pot. All these ‘free’ pots add up.

Playing PLO out of position is hard work, with difficult decisions and frustrating bad beats galore. Try and make sure you play the majority of your hands in position, and recognise discretion as the better part of valour when faced with borderline decisions when out of position.