There are mainly three defining characteristics of each starting hand:
- High Card Strength
Every decision in poker is centered on the amount of equity you have in the pot. Each one of these hand characteristics in one way or another influences the amount of equity you have, so when judging the quality and playability of each hand, these are the characteristics to look for.
A moment ago we established that the overall goal of playing poker is to accumulate as much equity as possible. Holding suited cards is a fantastic starting point for accomplishing this for several reasons. First, note that a double-suited hand flops no flush draw or backdoor flush draw of either suit only 15% of the time. Considering that flushes beat straights, suited hands have a ton of value in PLO. Altogether, a single-suited hand flops a flush 1% of the time, and a flush draw 12% of the time, while a double-suited hand flops a flush roughly 2% of the time, and a flush draw 23.5% of the time.
There are mainly five reasons why poker is always going to be easier when either single-suited or double-suited. First, it provides more outs (and equity) when drawing against a better made hand like a set. For example, adding a flush draw to a wrap gives you more equity than if you hold only a wrap. Second, holding suited cards provides you with the opportunity to seize the most profitable spot in poker; the freeroll. There are a variety of freeroll spots that exist in PLO, but the most common one is when two players hold the nut straight, and one of them holds a flush draw along with it.
The third reason is draw domination. It’s one of the more obvious examples of why suitedness is important, because wraps lose outs on two-tone boards (particularly in multi-way pots). Thus, if you have a flush draw with a wrap, it transforms your hand into a monster, and can therefore stand more heat from aggressive action. As we’ll discover later, holding the nut flush draw is a big deal in PLO.
Fourth, the presence of backdoor equity is one of the main differences between Hold’em and PLO. Not to say there isn’t any backdoor equity in NL; there’s just more of it in PLO. Having a backdoor flush draw allows you not only to realize your equity and showdown a winner, but it also presents the opportunity to semi-bluff profitably as well.
Finally, holding suited cards not only gives you draws to the winning hand, but it prevents the opponent from realizing his equity as well. In Chapter 11, we will talk about the valuable bluffing opportunities when holding an off-suit Ace.