The game of choice for many poker players is Texas hold’em, but there is another poker variant that is also popular, one that creates more action and bigger pots than its hold’em counterpart. We are talking about pot limit Omaha.
Pot limit Omaha, or PLO as it is abbreviated to, looks similar to hold’em on the surface, but dig deeper and you’ll find a much more complex game underneath. One of the major differences between hold’em and PLO is the preferred betting structure; no limit is the format of choice for hold’em while pot limit is the main version of PLO.
If you’ve never played a pot limit game before it is worthwhile figuring out the maximum that you can bet at any given time. In PLO, the most a player can bet is determined by how many chips are in the pot. For example, you are contesting a heads-up hand, there is $10 in the pot, and your opponent acts first. The most they can bet is $10. When it comes to your turn to bet, you can bet $40 because there was $10 in the pot, plus the $10 bet by your opponent, plus the $10 you need to make the call. This equals $30, which when added to your $10 call makes the maximum bet $40.
While this seems complicated, at partypoker you can simply move the bet slider to the maximum or click bet pot and the software takes care of the mathematics. Likewise in the live arena, announce “pot” if you want to bet pot and the dealer should assist you in the calculations.
Another major difference between hold’em and PLO is the fact in the latter you’re dealt four hole cards instead of two. Unlike in texas holdem where you can use one, two, or none of your hole cards to make the best five-card poker hand, in Omaha, you have to use exactly two hole cards.
This means that if you hold on a board reading , you actually hold a pair of aces and not a spade flush.
Having extra hole cards to choose from means that preflop hands run closer in equity in PLO than in hold’em. It is possible to be a substantial favourite preflop in PLO, but it is much rarer as a hand such as is less than a 60% favourite over say where aces versus kings in hold’em would see the former being more than an 82% favourite.
This closeness in equities makes Omaha more of a post-flop game, a drawing game, and often sees players play a wider range of hands than in hold’em, with more flops seen, more hands fought multi-way, and larger pots created.
Here are a few little pointers to help you on your PLO journey:
- Try to play hands where all four cards are connected in some way
- Be inclined to draw to the nut straight and nut flush
- A pair of aces isn’t anywhere near as strong in PLO as in hold’em
- Have a larger bankroll for PLO games than the same stakes hold’em games
- Be prepared for a roller coaster of emotions as you’ll go through some crazy swings!