Poker continues to climb in popularity, with no-limit hold’em being the top game at tournaments. There is another poker variant that has been making waves lately: Omaha Pot Limit hold’em.
Omaha poker has climbed in participation, with this year’s WSOP seeing over 3,000 entries in one event.
That’s approaching half the “Super Bowl” NLHE main event entries. Pot Limit Omaha is often overlooked because of the lack of “all-in” moments. There are no-limit variants of Omaha, but they’re less popular right now.
Besides the betting limits, Omaha’s 4-card draw opens up a new level of strategy. If you’re interested in learning more about this new realm of poker, keep reading.
If you love Texas’ No Limits, you might enjoy a change of pace with Omaha’s Pot Limits.
Dealings and Making Hands
So, the first thing you’ll notice in Omaha poker is that you start with four hole cards dealt before the flop. All the other standard poker rules and hand types apply here.
Flushes beat straights, which beats trips, and etc. Twice as many cards in each player’s hand means twice as many chances to make a hand.
The catch here is that two cards and only two cards can be used in your hand. If you’re holding four cards to a flush, you still need three more of the same suit on the board. You still need five total cards to make your best hand.
This changes the game completely when compared to No Limit Hold’em. Making a set on the flop doesn’t have quite the same feeling in PLO games. Plus, unlike NLHE, you can’t just sit with a bad hand and play the board as it pairs. Two of your cards will always be in play.
That also means you cannot make a flush if you only hold one of the same suit on a board with four of a kind. That’s right, you can technically hold the nuts with an Ace-high flush, but it won’t count if you don’t have a second card of the same suit. This is one of the harder parts to remember when first learning PLO.
Because the most popular form of Omaha poker is Pot Limit structure, your whole strategy might veer more conservatively. Pot-limit games can be seen as boring to the average onlooker, but there’s a lot of depth.
PLO games aren’t the best spectator attraction, but for the player, there’s nothing like climbing the ladder.
Pros are attracted to Omaha Pot Limit events because they are less susceptible to lucky or reckless play. Even with larger numbers turning out each year to play PLO games, the threat of variance is lower than standard NLHE fields.
Playing Hands Differently
Because you get dealt four cards, the strength of hands in Omaha games is a lot less straight-forward. You have to assume that all your opponents are holding draws to possible straights or flushes. Pocket pairs are less of a big deal, so the best hands will have a mix of pairs and draws.
More hands being made means more betting action. A lot of calling down the street happens in PLO, even past amateur skill level. The difficulty to read hands is why professional strategies buck this trend because they are thinking equity value, not how many hands they can make.
If you’re dealt pocket aces in Omaha Pot Limit games, it doesn’t mean anything if your two other cards are trash. In fact, there are many situations where you’ll see someone with two aces fold preflop in PLO.
Tips for Omaha Poker
Things can get very overwhelming for new Omaha players. Even when you’ve played Texas Hold’em for years, it’s hard to transition to PLO rules. These are some tips that help you minimize your losses when starting out.
1. Play Fewer Hands
This kind of goes against most people’s first instinct when jumping into Omaha. If you play fewer hands, you might not win any tournaments, but you will gain a better feel for the game.
The reason for this tip is two-fold.
One, you’ll effectively slow down your game to read your hands better. Two, you will learn more about what constitutes a great hand to play aggressively or trap. Starting out, most people don’t see past the flop because they feel like their opponent probably hit it if they 3-bet and etc.
2. Put Less Stock in Pairs
We mentioned this already, but it bears repeating. If you see paired overcards, take a deep breath.
In Omaha, suited connectors are technically more valuable to have. Now, holding a pocket pair and two suited connectors is a real monster hand in Omaha.
3. Build Slowly
Stealing blinds and small pots in PLO games is important for building enough chips to make big plays. It’s not the most exciting strategy, but it’s an honest living. If you’re sitting with a short stack, you can just double-up a few times and be in the running for winning.
That isn’t to say short-stacks are the death knell of PLO. You just have to gain respect the hard way and not go on tilt.
4. OOP is a Big “Oops.”
Position is important in all poker games, but in Omaha, you’re even more vulnerable. If you play out of position enough times, you’re going to get caught and exposed. PLO variance can be a cruel mistress and you’ll find those great hands you played out of position quickly turning into bluffs by the river.
5. Higher Skill Ceilings
The best tip to give to new Omaha players is to be humble and start from the bottom. Your years of Texas Hold’em vs Omaha poker is not comparable. If you start at the tier you normally play in NLHE, you’ll be in for a rude awakening.
Players who try out PLO aren’t going to be complete amateurs, most are former NLHE players. A lot of them will even be pros looking for a new challenge. Take this into consideration and grind your way up like the rest.
Omaha Isn’t for Everyone
Although Omaha poker is trending fast and a lot of pros are trying it out, it’s not for everyone. It requires a different level of strategy, risk, and bankroll. At the end up of the day, it’s about what you enjoy playing the most.
Omaha has the advantages of it still being a smaller category of poker. The potential to make money can be theoretically better for professionals. The challenge of learning new poker strategies helps keep you sharp, too.
If you’re looking for more online games like Omaha, there are plenty more for you to try here. Remember to play responsibly.