You are currently viewing Fix These 3 Pre-Flop PLO Mistakes and Make More Money

Fix These 3 Pre-Flop PLO Mistakes and Make More Money

  • Post category:Basics
  • Post last modified:May 12, 2024

Pre-flop is probably the most important street in any community card poker game. This is the one street you play every single hand, regardless of whether you fold, call, or raise. If you play your hand, your decision impacts all decisions moving forward. Despite this, many players make critical pre-flop PLO mistakes when they play. These small mistakes add up to large amounts of money lost over time.

This article is the second in a three-part series covering some of the biggest mistakes players often make in PLO. If you missed it, make sure to take a look at the first article in this series, “Fix These PLO Mistakes and Make More Money.”

Disclaimer: PLOwing Pots believes in transparency. Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission when you click on one. This commission helps me continue to provide high-quality content to my readers. You can read my full disclaimer here.

Pre-Flop PLO Mistake #1: Players Limp Too Much

At most PLO tables, you see many players open-limping and over-limping. Often, these players end up playing a bigger pot out of position after calling an isolation raise from a stronger player. There are several reasons to avoid making this mistake.

You Don’t Force Your Opponents to Make a Mistake

You make money in poker through your opponent’s mistakes. If we do not force our opponents to make mistakes, we will not make as much money in the long run. When you limp preflop, the Big Blind is not forced to make a decision, and as a result, they make a mistake with hands that they should fold against raise.  

You Cannot Pick Up the Blinds Pre-Flop

When you limp in pre-flop, even if everyone else folds, you’re still going to see a flop. You have forgone your ability to pick up 1.5 big blinds uncontested. You have also given the Big Blind the chance to realize his equity on his weakest hands that he would have folded. This is a huge win for the Big Blind, who is now making money from your mistakes.

You Encourage a Multiway Pot

When you limp, it tends to be followed by several players over-limping. You end up playing a multi-way pot out of position. As more players enter the pot, even the strongest hands lose equity.

Bar Graph Showing AAKKds Equity

A hand like AAKKds has 70% equity versus a player playing their top 40% of hands. Versus two players it shrinks to around 53%. That’s a whopping 17% reduction in equity. Add in the Big Blind, who gets to see a flop for free, and you drop another 10% to 43% equity.

Keep in mind that we will realize less equity out of position, so this reduction in equity is often more than what the numbers tell us. Do yourself a favor and strike this mistake from your playbook. If you are going to enter an unraised pot, do it for a raise.

PLO Skills: Practice PLO for Free

Pre-Flop PLO Mistake #2: Players Don’t Raise Full Pot

This mistake is very common among players switching from No-Limit Texas Holdem. In Holdem, it is common to see raises preflop ranging from a min-raise to three times the big blind. In PLO, we prefer making a pot-size raise. There are two good reasons for this.

It Increases Your Equity Realization Post-Flop

Equity realization is the amount of value a player makes compared to their equity share of the pot. Given a 10 big blind pot, a player with 60% equity has a 6 big blind share of the pot. If they win 7 big blinds on average, their equity realization is 116.6%. If they win 5 big blinds on average, their equity realization is 83.3%.

In No-Limit Texas Holdem, players can realize more equity post-flop by utilizing larger-than-pot-size bets. In PLO, you are limited to pot-size bets. To realize the most equity post-flop, we need to create a larger pot pre-flop than we do in Holdem. Assuming your opponent has a full 100 big blind stack, in PLO, it is impossible to win their entire stack with anything less than a pot-size raise pre-flop.

Bar Graph Showing Raise Size Comparisons

Let’s take a quick look at various pre-flop raise sizes, assuming everyone folds and the Big Blind calls. With a min-raise preflop followed by pot-size bets on all streets post-flop, you can only win around 60% of your opponent’s stack. With a 2.5 big blind raise, you can only win around 75%. At 3 big blinds, you are winning around 87%. It’s not until you make a pot-size raise of 3.5 big blinds that you can stack our opponent. 

You Give Your Opponent Worse Equity on a Call

In our first article of the series, we discussed how close equities run in PLO and noted how these equities often get closer post-flop. As our raise size gets smaller pre-flop, we allow our opponents to correctly play more hands against us.

Bar Graph Showing Equity Offered vs Raise Size Comparisons

Looking back at our previous example of raise sizes, our opponent in the big blind is offered 22%, 27%, 31%, and 33% on calling versus a 2, 2.5, 3, and 3.5 big blind raise, respectively. If we look at a player outside the blinds, these percentages jump to 44%, 45%, 46%, and 47% respectively.

This is an easy adjustment to increase your win rate in PLO. When you are raising pre-flop, make it a full pot-size bet.

Pre-Flop PLO Mistake #3: Players Play Too Many Hands Pre-Flop

It is easy for players to justify playing a lot of hands to themselves. You often hear, “I am getting such good odds, and equities are close in PLO,” or “I have six hands to hit the flop” from these players. While true, that does not justify playing almost any four cards.

It might surprise you that the optimal preflop frequencies for raise-first-in in PLO are not much wider than No-Limit Texas Holdem frequencies. The first three positions in a six-max game barely see an increase in frequency. It’s not until the Button that you see a significant increase in raise-first-in frequencies compared to Holdem.

Some players understand this; however, they still make critical mistakes. Why is this? They do not have a solid framework for understanding PLO preflop hand categories like they do in Texas Holdem. In Holdem, most players are familiar with the 13×13 matrix. Given the two-card construct that has 169 strategically different hands, this kind of visualization is easy to depict in a two-dimensional matrix.

Matrix from FlopzillaPro

This is not easy to visualize in a clean format in PLO. Aside from the 6 different 2-card combinations, there are 16,432 strategically different starting hands in PLO. While there is likely no way anyone could memorize the optimal opening ranges like you could do in No-Limit Texas Holdem, you can work to get very close by grouping hands into categories and looking at what makes up the bottom end of that range.

This requires a lot of off-table work and good tools to help you understand ranges. Many free tools are available. If you want to get a solid understanding of range makeups, check out’s free equity calculator Equilab – Omaha. You can look at equity graphs, combo counts, hand rankings, and much more for free.  

While working through equity calculations and developing your ranges is good for development, it can take some time and can introduce mistakes. If you want to eliminate preflop mistakes, you need something that takes all the guesswork out of it.

PLO Trainer Web App Screen Shot

My friends over at PLO Mastermind have developed a cutting-edge PLO Trainer that shows what hands to play from what position, groups them into categories, shows you the expected value of the hand, and lets you take the ranges to the trainer to drill them over and over.

PLO Web Trainer Pro Image

However, if you need more in-depth analysis you should take a look at the PLO Range Explorer. You get access to the Web App and several additional features on a downloadable desktop interface. You can look at range versus range comparisons, equity graphs, bucket comparisons, and much more. The Range Explorer also has the option to import your own Monker Solver ranges for analysis that simply isn’t possible in Monker Solver.

PLO Mastermind Banner

Eliminating pre-flop mistakes takes time and hard work; however, it is worth the investment. You would not build a house on a bad foundation. When you neglect your pre-flop game, that is exactly what you do. You are building a strategy on a bad foundation. This ultimately cascades into many post-flop mistakes.

In our next post “Fix These Post-Flop PLO Mistakes and Make More Money,” we will cover those mistakes more in-depth.

If you enjoy discussing and studying PLO, join our PLO Study Group on Discord and grow alongside many other dedicated players working to improve their game. Also, make sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook to stay updated on content.