Blockers in PLO
I started playing poker in 2005, when the best strategy advice on the internet still included a hand rankings chart. PLO wouldn’t become huge for a few years and it was very rare to have someone talk about card removal as being a valuable concept to learn.
It’s an extremely important lesson to learn as a poker player, however, and Omaha is definitely the game where it comes up the most. Hopefully this primer will teach you how to use blockers and card removal effectively and make you a better player.
The basic concept is that when you compose a range of hands that someone can possibly hold, having knowledge about cards that can’t be in their hand can be the tipping point in your decision.
If you believe someone is only making a play in a situation if they have aces or a bluff, having an ace be dead is a huge deal because it makes having aces be a rarer thing in that circumstance.
Common Blocker Instances
In PLO, the most common form of making a play with a blocker is having the nut flush blocker when a flush be the absolute nuts,
Imagine you hand having that Ah in the picture above and 3 other irrelevant black cards and the board runs out:
Having a flush is very easy in PLO compared to other games and if you know that no one can have the nuts, it’s the most efficient bluff card possible, not to mention it’s basically necessary that you pretend you have the nuts sometimes in order to make sure you get paid off when you actually do have the nut flush.
You can also take this a step further, and a bit more dangerously.
Take a hand like
On a flop of
A ten is incredibly important to have in this situation because you can’t make the nuts without it and you happen to hold two of them.
That makes it much more unlikely that someone can have a hand strong enough to play back at you and you can be more inclined to bet as a bluff.
Not to mention that zesty backdoor flush draw.
An Extreme Example
Though not recommended, the most insane example of this lesson I saw once in an online hand history posted on 2p2.
It was a super deep heads-up PLO cash game involving two high stakes pros who know each other very well; the button raises and the big blind reraises.
The board runs out
Lots of action occurs and the turn results in multiple large reraises and the button ends up shoving. The big blind tanks a very long time and calls with 8888 in his hand. Meaning, a pair of eights with 0 chance to improve.
His thought process is surprisingly simple: An experienced PLO player would never raise multiple times and then go all-in on the turn here against my extremely aggressive line without knowing that I can’t have the nuts.
I DO know that he can’t have the nuts because I have all the eights. Even if he all but one of the sixes with a hand like 6663 for the second nuts, putting in such a large amount with some amount of 86 combos in my range is insane.
If he could only possibly make this move with either the nuts or a hand that made it impossible for me to have the nuts, and I have every 8, then he can only have 6666 in his hand.
He was, of course, correct. I don’t believe it was ever confirmed if this hand actually happened but as a lesson it doesn’t really matter.
In a game where you have very little information to make decisions, having secret information that your opponent doesn’t get to know is majorly important and you should try to incorporate it into your arsenal.
For PLO these are just a few ways that you can incorporate blockers into your game but there are many other possibilities as well that you may experiment with. I don’t recommend you start calling people down with quads in your hand, however.