QuickFact: Other Than These Hands, Most Of The Hands That Can’t Play Profitably To A 4b Probably Shouldn’t Have Been 3b In The First Place.
QuickFact: It Is Almost Always Correct To Call Any Single-Suited Unpaired, Non-Ace Hand That Was Good Enough To 3b In The First Place.
The $20,000 Lesson
The first thing I want to talk about for calling four-bets is the $20,000 lesson, which is the name I came up with to help you remember that four-betting ranges are heavily weighted towards Aces, particularly at the lower stakes. I call it the $20,000 lesson, because that’s how much I’ve probably lost in the past couple of years from calling four-bets when I should have folded instead. For the longest time, I had this huge leak where I always got my money in terrible in four-bet pots, because I wrongly assumed that players four-betting ranges were wider than Aces. Unfortunately for my wallet, I had to lose many big pots to kick the habit, so it would’ve been great if someone showed me the stuff I’m about to go over with you a couple of years ago.
In Chapter 5, I mentioned that a good rule of thumb is to assume that players’ three-betting ranges are tighter than you think, until proven otherwise. This is exaggerated further with four-betting, so I want to bring it up again. Assume that player’s four-betting ranges are very tight and heavily weighted towards Aces, until they prove capable of four-betting lighter. After all, it takes more courage to four-bet instead of peel and see the flop, so players are more likely to take the passive route instead of the aggressive one.
Something else I want to point out is that stack-off ranges in four-bet pots when effective stacks are 100bb are very wide. Recall from the SPR table in Chapter Two that we only need 33% equity to break even when the SPR is 1, which means that if you flop practically any pair or draw, you’re committed to stacking off. In case you’re curious, or want to review some of the more common equity match-ups on a variety of board textures in PLO, then be sure to check out the PLO QuickStats.
The Proximity Effect
The proximity effect is a term coined by Tom Chambers to explain why hands that are typically strong do poorly against four-betting ranges that are heavily weighted towards Aces. For example, a hand that’s worth opening from any position such as KQJT has a much tougher time making straights if an opponent holds two Aces out of the deck. Additionally, every time KQJT makes two pair, there’s a good chance our opponent with Aces has a draw to the straight. It’s also worth pointing out that wheel cards suffer from the proximity effect as well. The proximity effect is strong enough that K♥Q♠J♣T♦ and Q♥J♠T♣9♦ are each losing calls at 100bb.
When to Fold ‘Em
Besides hands that suffer from the proximity effect, there are mainly four hand characteristics that make it -EV to call a four-bet.
Characteristic 1: Unpaired Ace-high (A***)
When most people hear the word dangler used to describe hands in PLO, they typically picture the role a deuce plays in a hand like T982. When facing a four-bet against an opponent who’s likely to have Aces, holding an Ace is like having a dangler because it adds little value to the hand, and usually we’d prefer to have no Ace in our hand at all. Making Aces up is worthless, and many times you’ll be sharing outs if you have a straight draw. In fact, the only unpaired hands with an Ace in them that are profitable to call a four-bet with at 100bb are the very connected double-suited hands like A♠Q♦J♠T♦ and A♥J♣T♥9♣, and the low proximity three-straight hands like A♣8♦7♣6♦ and A♠J♥T♠7♥.
Characteristic 2: Low Connectedness
Lacking connectedness reduces the profitably of calling a four-bet as well. In Chapter 3, we learned that the more connected a hand is, the smoother its equity distribution tends to be. In other words, the more connected a hand is, the more likely it will flop straight draws with a pair, and the more likely it flops a straight draw to go with two pair as well.
This is noteworthy because a common misconception I’ve seen talked about in the forums involves the players who think it’s profitable to call a four-bet with any four unpaired non-Ace cards; this is simply not true. For example, if you do the math on a hand like K♣T♥4♠2♣, you’ll see that the low degree of connectedness destroys its profitability.
Moreover, most of the hands which don’t fall directly into one of these categories, and that can’t profitably call a four-bet, probably shouldn’t have been three-bet in the first place. For example, let’s use a hand like K♣T♥4♠2♣. That hand can’t profitably call a four-bet, but it shouldn’t even be in your three-betting range.
Characteristic 3: Rainbow
Since having low connectedness makes many hands unprofitable to call a four-bet with, it’s no surprise that being unsuited drags profit down as well. Having a rainbow hand hurts a lot, and it’s enough to make hands that generally play well in three-bet and four-bet pots unprofitable calls. We’ll look at a few tables in a moment, but for example, TT44 turns a decent profit if it’s double-suited, but change it to rainbow and it transforms into a bona fide loser.
Characteristic 4: Paired
Last, having a pair causes you to lose money facing a four-bet for the same reasons they struggle to profitably call three-bets with. As I’ve said many times before, holding a pair generally results in a more polarized equity distribution, and remember that as the SPR decreases, the hands which do the best are those with a smooth equity distribution.
Although the majority of paired hands can’t profitably call a four-bet from Aces, there are a few that can still do so profitably, the best of which are single-suited or double-suited pairs that have three to a straight with low or medium proximity like 9♣9♦8♠7♦ and J♥J♠T♥9♠. Again, even though being double-suited significantly adds to the smoothness of your hand, not all double-suited hands are profitable to call a four-bet with. For example, as we’ll discover shortly, both K♥K♦T♥2♦ and T♠T♣6♠2♣ are losers facing a four-bet from Aces at 100bb stacks.
When to Hold‘em
We know which hands to kick into the muck, but which ones do we call and scoop the big pots with? All the hand characteristics that make it profitable to call a four-bet are the exact opposite of the qualities outlined a moment ago. This means we will call with connected and suited hands with low proximity, no pair, and no Ace.
I won’t go through each bullet like I did in the previous section because I think they’re self explanatory at this point. If you still feel confused about calling four-bets, I suggest visiting the link I posted earlier in the chapter, and plugging in some hands on your own to get a better feel for the stuff we’ve covered. Concerning calling four-bets, there’s one rule of thumb that I’ve found useful. It’s usually correct to call with any single-suited unpaired, non-ace hand that’s good enough to three-bet in the first place.
Next, I have a couple of tables to show you, because I know all of this stuff makes much sense when you’re reading it, but you’ll have a much better chance of understanding it and using it correctly at the tables if you have a visual aide to go along with it. These tables were pulled from Tom Chambers book Advanced PLO Theory, which has hundreds of detailed tables about four-betting at different stack sizes. In the tables below, the blinds are 5/10.
Table 6.1 displays the profitability of calling a four-bet with KT76 at three different stack sizes when it’s double-suited, single-suited, and rainbow. The reason I chose this table was to display the impact being single-suited or double-suited has on the profitability of your call. Note that K♥T♠7♥6♦ yields over 6x as many big blinds as it does when it’s rainbow, and over 11 times as many big blinds when it’s double-suited.
Table 6.1. EV vs AA** 4-Bet
I included table 6.2 below for similar reasons. I wanted to use a hand that had different characteristics, so I chose the double-paired hand we used in an example earlier, TT44. Here, we notice the same trend. You’ll break even with this hand when it’s single-suited, lose 3.5bb when it’s rainbow, and when it’s double-suited, you will make +3.5bbs or a total increase of 7bbs from the rainbow hand.
Table 6.2. EV vs AA** 4-Bet
The three primary hand characteristics to look for when facing a four-bet against someone who likely has Aces, are the degrees of connectedness, proximity, and suitedness. For example, if you’re double-suited, have high connectedness and low proximity, then you have an easy call. On the other hand, if you’re single-suited, but have high proximity with medium connectedness, then it’s probably closer to a fold.
The two tables on the following page focus on the profitability of calling four-bets with various combinations of Kings. I doubt most people reading this need to be told Kings aren’t nearly as big of a hand in PLO as they are in Hold’em. Something I’ve noticed from surfing the forums, is how many players are confused about whether double-suited Kings are profitable to call a four-bet with. The profitability of calling a four-bet depends on the level of a hand’s connectedness, suitedness, and proximity, and Kings is no exception to the rule.
In table 6.3, notice that K♥K♠9♥8♠ is a 2.5bb winner at 100bb stacks, but take away one of its suits and it’s no longer profitable. In table 6.4, observe how even though K♥K♠T♥2♠ is double-suited, it still can’t turn a profit because of its high proximity and low connectedness. So before you get in the habit of peeling with any Kings that are double-suited (or any double-suited hand for that matter), make sure to consider the proximity and connectedness of your hand as well.
Table 6.3. EV vs AA** 4-Bet
Table 6.4. EV vs AA** 4-Bet