BigO PLO8 Recipe — Part 2


In the first installment of this two-part series, I covered the preflop portion of a recipe for beating BigO. Maybe the most important advice was to buy Greg Vail’s book, SCOOP!. We’’ll pick up the post-flop portion here.


Just because you started with the best hand doesn’t mean you get to win the pot. Suppose you are playing 1/2 BigO and have AsAdTs3c4d. This is a legitimate monster. There are two limps, and you make it 11 (the absolute most permitted). There is a cold call behind you, and both the limpers calls. For convenience, assume that everybody started with 200 in their stack. There’s 47 in the pot.

The flop comes down 8s-8c-4c. Check. And. Fold. You are done with this pot. Somebody has a 8, or somebody has a club draw you have to fade. Don’t try to “represent a 8,” or anything silly. Just fold and wait for the next premium. “But Lee, 2nd nut low draw.” I know – but somebody has an A2 – I promise you. And you’ll be drawing for half the pot, because the chances of your aces ending up the best high hand are tiny.

Yes, you started with the best hand, and you made plenty of Sklansky$ with your preflop pot-raise – good job. Do not squander that hard-earned equity by betting into better hands. Do not go on entitlement tilt (“I had the best hand preflop dammit – I deserve to win!”) and punt off chips post-flop. Your lottery tickets did not hit – wait for the next lottery.


Let’s suppose you’re a hold’em player, and are sitting on the big blind with 5c4c. To your delight, three players limp in and nobody raises. So you check and see a miracle flop of 6d-7c-Qc. “Holy moly!” you exclaim (silently, to yourself). “I’ve flopped a 15-outer! Any three or eight gives me a straight, and any club gives me a flush.” That’s a perfectly reasonable thought. Certainly you know that you could run into a bigger flush, but that’s a distant worry until the signs point to it.

A competent BigO player, watching you play, would be thinking, “Welp. We have three nut outs.” That’s how you have to think. If you insist on treating non-nut outs as outs, and chasing after such hands, you will get broke in all forms of PLO. Anything involving five cards (e.g. BigO), you’ll get broke that much sooner.

Sometimes you can sneak to showdown with the second nut low, or third nut flush. But it’s not a time to put stacks in. You have to learn to fold flushes and even full houses.

The good news is that once you learn to do this, you’re miles ahead of the hold’em players who don’t learn this vital skill.


If you’re playing PLO and drawing to non-nut hands, you’re usually asking for trouble. If you’re playing BigO (where everybody gets five cards), you’re always asking for trouble. You will constantly see people winning big pots with non-nut hands, but I discussed that in the previous article – if 2-3 players build a big pot with bad hands, then a bad hand will win a big pot. What they don’t realize is that when one of the good players at the table gets involved, that good player will have the nuts. And they will, eventually, give all their chips to that good player.

Be one of the good players – not one of the ones who’s splashing around with second- and third-best hands.


This is the part that always gets hold’em players, so it’s the penultimate thing in this article. If you flop “best” in hold’em, you generally have the most equity. That is, the hand that is winning when the flop comes down is usually a decent-to-huge favorite to win after the turn and river.

Conversely, in BigO, the “made” hands such as sets and two pairs are routinely serious underdogs to “drawing” hands. For instance, suppose you have JsTc9s9c4h, and the flop is 9h-6c-2s. You think, “I have the nuts, and no low is possible yet. Let’s get all the money in.” But wait, if somebody has as3c4d8sTd, they are a 52:48 equity favorite against you, despite having “ace-high” at the moment. Importantly, if any 3, 4, 5, 7, or 8 comes on the turn, your opponent has locked up half the pot, and is freerolling you for the rest. That is, if a non-pairing low card comes on the turn, you will be drawing at half the pot, and your opponent can blithely bet the pot, daring you to chase half.

It can be worse. If your opponent has Ac5c7h8hTd, they have a 58:42 equity advantage over you, despite having ace-high at the moment.

Again, it’s difficult for hold’em players to grasp this – in hold’em, top set is cause for celebration and jamming up the pot. This is simply not true in BigO.


I saved the best for last. And it’s the absolute key to winning all split-pot poker games. If you are drawing at half the pot, get out. If you have half of the pot locked up, and are drawing at the other half, that’s a freeroll, and it’s how you print money in such games.

Playing BigO, I’m always astonished (and gratified) to see players drawing at half a pot. In particular, they’ll chase the nut low with no meaningful chance for the high hand. Those players will lose all their chips.

It can be tedious and frustrating to wait for a hand that has a legitimate claim on both halves of the pot. But if you’ll have the patience to wait for that, you can pile up the winnings in BigO.

Lee Jones has been in the poker industry for over 30 years. He writes at the Global Poker blog, plays poker every chance he gets, and coaches poker. You can contact him at