Pot Limit Omaha

MainPot Limit Omaha is a four-hole-card game through which a player is required to make the best five-card poker hand. Following a similar format to Texas Hold’em, in that five community cards are used to create a winning hand, but with many more ways to win (or lose), the game is now one of the most popular variants in the poker world.

Because each player is dealt four hole cards it means the number of possible draws, combinations and nut hands is much greater than Hold’em. Thus, while players will find the two games structurally similar, the strategy required is vastly different. Indeed, if Hold’em is a brisk stroll through a tricky maze, then Pot Limit Omaha is a risky run across a minefield. Not for the faint-hearted of US players!

The Structure of PLO

pot-limit-omahaStructurally, Pot Limit Omaha is the same as Texas Hold’em: the dealer deals a flop, turn and river and at each point a betting round occurs. When all the action is finished, it’s the person who hasn’t folded or the one who has the best hand that wins the pot.

The main strategic difference to consider when you switch from playing Hold’em to Omaha is that you need a stronger hand to win at showdown in the latter. For example, a single pair may be good enough to scoop the pot in a game of No Limit Texas Hold’em, but in Omaha this will very rarely be the case.

Full houses, flushes and straights are much more likely hands to win in a game of Pot Limit Omaha and for this reason a player should be more careful when choosing which hands to play.

A basic poker concept to remember in Omaha is that your starting hand should be as connected as possible. Hands that have strong connections, such as T, J, Q, K, are much more likely to win the pot when you go to a showdown.

Top Tips for Beating Pot Limit Omaha

Time for Two: One of the biggest hurdles novice PLO players in America fall over is the two card rule. Unlike Texas Hold’em where both, one or none of your cards can be combined with the board to make the best five card hand, in PLO you must use two cards. Thus, if there are four diamonds on the board and you have only one diamond in your hand, you don’t have a flush.
It’s all about Position: Because the scope for making a hand is much greater in PLO than other games, you should always be looking to play in position. The reason for this is that there is less chance to bluff someone or make a move (something people often do when out of position in a game of Texas Hold’em) because your opponent will often have something to call you with. Moreover, because the game is pot limit, it decreases the amount you can bet and, thus, reduces the amount you can scare your opponents into folding.
Shoot for the Nuts: Because it’s very easy to make a pair in a game of PLO it’s important to not over commit chips with mediocre hands. Indeed, hands which often win pots in Texas Hold’em will likely be second or even third best in PLO. For this reason, only chase draws to the nuts (or very close to the nuts) and only commit a lot of chips with a set or better.

A Closer Look at PLO in the US

To give you a better idea of the mechanics and thinking present in Pot Limit Omaha, let’s take a look at this hand from an $11 tournament from a US online site:

pre_flop

Pre-Flop:

Dealt to Hero: Kd 4h 5s Ks

Villain: folds

Hero: raises 300 to 450

Villain 2: folds

Villain 3: calls 450

Villain 4: calls 375

Villain 5: folds

Despite a conservative post-flop style being +EV in PLO, pre-flop should be much more aggressive. A lot of players that migrate from the Hold’em world to the pits of PLO will often play passively pre-flop, but it’s important to take the initiative with your strong hands. With this in mind, the Hero raised it 3X the big blind with a relatively strong: Kd 4h 5s Ks.

flop

The Flop: 6d 3c Td

Villain 4: checks

Hero: checks

Villain 3: bets 450

flop2

Villain 4: folds

Hero: calls 450

Post-flop, the hero in this hand has an over pair as well as an up and down straight draw, but the presence of two diamonds is a danger. In low stakes PLO games on US poker sites, inexperienced players will gladly commit their stacks with weak flushes, so it’s important to counteract this with a check/call approach with a hand that’s strong but not quite good enough to get all-in on the flop.

the_turn

The Turn: 6d 3d Td Th

Hero: checks

Villain 3: checks

Having check/called on the flop, the Hero opened up the risk of being outdrawn; however, on a blank turn card it was possible to get aggressive. Unfortunately, the presence of another ten made it possible for the Hero’s opponent to have trips, so the optimal play was to, again, check. From a hand reading point of view, after Villain 3 checks it’s unlikely they had trips in this spot.

the_river

The River: 6d 3d Td Th 3s

Hero: checks

Villain 3: checks

After the 3s fell on the river, the Hero was likely to be best at showdown so the best move to make her is to pick off a bluff. When the hands were revealed it transpired that the villain had Jh 9d Jc Kh and would have probably called a half pot bet on the river which, hopefully, demonstrates the subtle skills required in PLO. Indeed, you must know when to check, bet, fold and raise in order to get the most value possible from your hands.

In comparison to Texas Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha offers a unique challenge to and calls for a different strategy from American poker players.

Big Winners in Pot Limit Omaha

Biggest WinnersIf you’re thinking about playing PLO at one of our top USA online poker sites, then make sure you have a large bankroll. Some of the largest pots in online poker history have come at the PLO tables, including this classic showdown between Patrik Antonius and Viktor ‘Isildur1′ Blom:

  • Blom raised to $3,000 from the button and Patrik three-bet to $9,000 from the big blind.
  • Blom then four-bet to $27,000, followed by a five-bet from Patrik for $72,000. Blom made the call and the flop fell: 5c 4s 2h.
  • Patrik led out with a $91,000 bet and Blom then raised it up to $435,000.
  • Patrik three-bet to $688,000 and Blom made the call.

Patrik held Ah 3s Ks Kh for a wheel while Blom held 6d 9s 7d 8h for a wrap draw. The turn and river both missed Blom and Patrik took down a $1,356,947 pot.

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