Pot Limit Omaha is currently the second most popular form of poker in the world, second only to No Limit Texas Hold’em. Its popularity has increased significantly over the last few years, as more and more poker players become familiar with it and give it a try, and end up really liking it.
Pot Limit Omaha does have a lot of things in common with its wildly successful cousin Hold’em. It is a community card game, which unlike the older popular forms of poker such as stud, allows for more frequent situations where the hands of players are closer aligned.
When players have competing hands that are close in strength, this promotes more action. For instance, if there are three cards to a suit on the board, more than one player may be drawing to the same flush, and if the flush card hits, this may inspire some pretty heavy betting, where both players may be willing to get all of their chips in the pot.
When you look at a game like seven card stud for instance, this is far less likely to happen, as each player is working with their own cards only. For two players to have a flush of the same suit, we would need a minimum of 10 of the 13 cards of the individual suit being dealt to 2 players only.
With a community card game, you only need 4 community cards plus any player having one of the suit. So as you can see, community card games definitely can be much more exciting, and it’s no wonder that they currently dominate the poker scene, with non community card games pretty much being completely out of fashion.
Pot Limit Omaha Is A Lot Like Going Back In Time
While Texas Hold’em deals each player two hole cards, whereby they use these cards in any fashion they wish with the board, or community cards, to make the best five card hand they can, Omaha doubles the hole cards of the players, from two to four. This certainly does make the game more interesting, and in a real sense, more complex as well. This is not only due to the increased amount of hole cards.
Due to the long term popularity of Hold’em, the road to solid play is a very well traveled one, and should players require guidance, there are vast resources out there which can have even new players playing a pretty solid game in no time. In earlier times, most players played pretty badly due to ignorance of what solid play was, and in particular, tended to play way too loose. As time went on, the game tightened up drastically, and the advantages that good players currently have tend to be more advanced and more subtle.
This is not to suggest that Hold’em isn’t an exciting game, but when you see good players playing 18 or 24 tables at a time, the fact that the game has for a lot of players become pretty mechanical becomes obvious. These mechanical styles can definitely be defeated through superior strategy, but the days of the loose and wild games with little folding have pretty much come and gone.
Given that the general understanding of Pot Limit Omaha is considerably less developed, the games definitely tend to be looser and fishier, and the general skill level tends to be less. So for players who yearn for the old days of online poker, Pot Limit Omaha becomes a delightful throwback, where a player’s advantages through skill and sound play tend to become more magnified and therefore more profitable.
Similarities and Differences With Pot Limit Omaha And Hold‘em
There are several aspects of Pot Limit Omaha that are similar to Texas Hold’em, such that players tend to find that the transition to Omaha is a fairly easy one. However, there are also some very real differences between them that players really need to take account of properly.
Aside from getting dealt four cards instead of two in Hold’em, in Omaha you must use exactly two cards from your hand and exactly three cards from the board in order to make a five card hand. With Hold’em, you can use both your hole cards, one, or even none to make a five card hand.
Having four cards to work with makes a lot bigger difference than many newer or less experienced Omaha players imagine. The tendency is to think just in terms of needing two good cards, and to ignore the two less valuable ones. However, with a total of four cards being dealt to every player, the chances of your two best cards being best are quite a bit lower than you would see with a similar hand in Hold’em.
The better your cards in total are, meaning looking for not just two good cards but ideally all four having good potential to make a top hand, the better your chances, and the more likely you should be to be willing to put money into the pot with them.
So as you might imagine, more players will tend to see the flop in Pot Limit Omaha than in No Limit Hold’em. One of the criticisms of the way Hold’em is played these days is that players understand that you really need to be pretty selective with your starting hands, resulting in a lot of pre-flop folding.
With Pot Limit Omaha, it is also very important to be more selective with your starting hands, however similar to the early days of Hold’em, a lot of players do not understand this enough, and this results in some pretty loose play, and in general, notably looser than a game of Hold’em at a similar stake. So this allows for the more skilled players to enjoy a bigger advantage over the typical players, who tend to chase a lot of situations where the odds are against them, which is the hallmark of playing too loose.
Betting Rounds And Action With Pot Limit Omaha
If you are familiar with the betting rounds in Hold’em, you’ll be perfectly at home playing Omaha. Like Hold’em, there are four betting rounds, which are on the pre-flop, the flop, the turn, and the river. There are so many similarities to Hold’em in fact that Hold’em players find the transition to Omaha, at least in terms of being able to sit down and play hands, a fairly easy one.
So the main difference with Pot Limit Omaha is, once again, being dealt four hole cards instead of two, and needing to use two of them to make a hand. In PLO, the highest hand wins, as opposed to another popular variation of Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo. Here we are discussing the high hand variety, and we will go into the Hi/Lo variation in another article.
Even with the high hand variation of Pot Limit Omaha, players often overestimate the value of their hands, and therefore underestimate what it takes to win pots. Those two extra cards do make a big difference, and lead to your needing to hit bigger hands, and in a lot of cases a lot bigger hands, to win pots at showdown than you would playing Hold’em.
With Hold’em, often you get dealt a good hand, like a high pocket pair, and then look for this hand to stand up at showdown. That won’t get you anywhere near as far in Omaha, as your made hands will get busted far more often with your opponents each holding four cards. So Omaha is therefore much more of a drawing game, although you do need to look to draw to hands when it makes sense to do so, in other words when your chances of hitting the best hand are high enough.
When you add in the increased amount of looseness, and the increased number of players in pots in Omaha as opposed to Hold’em, then this situation becomes even more pronounced, and even more care must be taken to ensure you are chasing situations which are genuinely profitable over time.
With Pot Limit Omaha, You Really Need To Be Careful
Some of you may be familiar with the concept of what is called reverse implied odds, which is something that all good poker players are aware of. When we look to determine the odds of a play, we look to decide how much we will win if we hit our hand. This is called implied odds.
With reverse implied odds, we need to account for the possibility that we may hit our hand and lose, and this must be deducted from what we win when we make the hand. While this does play a role in Hold’em, it plays a much bigger role in Omaha. Once again, since there are so many hole cards out there, we can hit a very strong hand and be subject to a much higher chance of getting beaten by a better hand then we would see in Hold’em.
So we really do need to be careful that we don’t get all of our money in and lose too often. It’s also just as important, if not more so, to make sure that you aren’t paying to chase these undesirable situations, where if you miss, you lose, and if you hit, you lose too often and too much.
A good rule of thumb is that Omaha is a game of monster hands, and even monsters get beaten by bigger monsters fairly often. So you want to set your sights high and if you aren’t shooting for a high enough hand, you don’t want to waste money on it.
So There‘s Certainly A Lot To Learn With Pot Limit Omaha, But the Rewards Of Doing So Are High
A lot of players have become somewhat bored with No Limit Texas Hold’em, and have moved over to Pot Limit Omaha. So there are definitely some real good opportunities for those who either are good players now or want to become good players, and are willing to go through the learning curve that is needed to become a good Pot Limit Omaha player.
You will find that most of the poker skills that you have learned playing Hold’em will be serve you well in the game of Omaha. Given the increased looseness that you tend to see in Omaha, your skills at bluffing will be less applicable, much like they were in the more loose days of Hold’em. This isn’t to say that well timed bluffs don’t have their place in PLO, for instance getting people to fold better hands on the river when they miss their draws, but you do need to be much more selective with bluffs here.
The skills of reading the board and reading your opponents are definitely very important in Omaha as well, although the amount of cards involved in Omaha does tend to make hand reading more challenging. Still though, anything that is challenging does provide you more opportunities to obtain advantages whenever you are more up for the challenge than your opponents are.
So given that it is certainly the case that the higher the skill, the bigger the opportunity, then it’s not hard at all to see why so many poker players have taken to Pot Limit Omaha lately. If you are an experienced Hold’em player, you will find Pot Limit Omaha to be both a very fun and very invigorating form of poker. If you are new to poker, then Pot Limit Omaha is also a great place to start, and you may indeed enjoy some natural advantages over Hold’em players by not having to change your thinking.
So if you feel you are up to it, click on one of our links to our top recommended poker sites featuring the best Pot Limit Omaha on the internet and see what you’ve been missing. If you would like to learn more and enhance you skills then read our PLO Strategy guide.