Pot-Limit Omaha Strategy

If you enjoy No-Limit Hold’em but wouldn’t mind a little more action, then Pot-Limit Omaha might be your new poker game of choice.

The premise of Pot-Limit Omaha, or PLO as it’s also known, is that it’s the same as No-Limit Hold’em … but with two extra cards.

There are actually a few more small differences between the two — for instance, in PLO you MUST play two of your hole cards — but the blinds and order of play are exactly the same as Hold’em.

Having four starting cards is obviously a big change compared to the two you get in Hold’em and there’s quite a bit more nuance in understanding the strength of your hand compared to your opponents’.

Here are a few down-and-dirty basic PLO tips to help you get started.

Remember You MUST Play Two of Your Cards

This can be a difficult concept for Hold’em players to grasp but it’s very important to get the hang of it.

In PLO you must use two of your hole cards to make a five-card hand. You can’t just play the board or use one of your cards to make a four-flush or straight. You’ve got to use exactly two of your hole cards.

That’s actually what makes starting hands like A-A-A-A quite bad. Because you’ve already got all the aces, you can’t improve to more than a pair. You also can’t use one of your aces to complete a Broadway straight. You’re blocking yourself.

Meanwhile, double-suited A-A-K-K is the best starting hand in PLO because you can make a variety of different hands and you’ve still got pocket aces if the board bricks out. Drawing hands like double-suited K-Q-J-T also play particularly strong in PLO.

If you’re just getting started, this will likely be your biggest leak so try to memorize this concept as soon as possible.

Play to the Nuts

You’ll notice quite quickly that strong hands in Hold’em aren’t quite as good in PLO.

It’s common for big pairs and two pair to get cracked. That’s because every player has four cards so the chance of hitting a monster is quite a bit higher.

That’s why it’s a good idea when you’re getting started with PLO to always be looking to make the best possible hand, also known as the nuts.

For instance, you should be very careful if you have a low flush or the lower end of a straight. There’s a very good chance one of your opponents could have a similar draw but with higher cards. That would mean you’re effectively drawing dead.

That also means you can play big draws quite aggressively. Because in PLO you can’t bet more than the pot (hence the “Pot-Limit”), you can actually stick around longer with a draw than you might be able to in Hold’em.

Keep Tight Out of Position

There’s a whole lot to learn when you’re first starting PLO and it’s generally a good idea to play fairly tight when you’re out of position.

Because you’ll need the nuts, or close to it, in PLO, then playing out of position can be a recipe for disaster as your opponent gets the chance to act last and either reopen betting or shut down the hand until the next round.

Out of position just means being one of the first players to act or one of the blinds. The player on the dealer button always goes last in PLO (and Hold’em) so that player has the best possible position.

If you do have position, don’t be afraid to loosen up and fire some bets into the middle as there’s a much better chance that they’ll get through.

Bet Good Hands

The nuts is forever changing with every draw, so when you land a good draw, you need to pounce. Raise the pot. Don’t allow your opponents to continue through the game for free when you already have the nuts. They might get the nuts and screw you over, so make them pay to stay in the game. This will thin the field to those already sitting on stronger hands, or those without the strategy to duck out when the cards don’t suit them.

Because Omaha is a drawing game, there will be many players looking to stick around and see another card or two. You’ve got to punish those players by betting aggressively when you’ve got the best hand.

It’s much harder to get folds from players in PLO so be sure to bet big when you get a good hand.

Don’t Pay Off With Losing Hands

If you’re transitioning from Hold’em to PLO, then you should be very careful about making big calls and potentially paying off your opponents.

The ceiling for good hands is much higher in PLO and you’ve got to be aware that you’ll see the nuts much more often than in Hold’em.

One of the worst mistakes in PLO is to call huge bets with a weak draw only to make your hand by the river and call off a huge amount only to realize your opponent had a bigger draw and was ahead of you the whole time.

Be very careful when you’re sitting on just a pair or two pair. Even sets can be risky if the board gets particularly dangerous.

You’ve got to be aware of the strong hands that could possibly be out there.

Don’t Be Afraid of Getting Aggressive

Because every player starts with four cards in PLO, there’s a much better chance that you’re on a more even playing field than you might expect.

For instance, in Hold’em you can be a 90 percent favorite in certain situations. The same can’t be said for Omaha, where you’ll find a lot of 60-40 type situations. It’s not very common for players to be completely dead on the flop as many times players will have backdoor outs to strange hands.

That’s why variance plays a big part in PLO and the game often favors players who play aggressively. For instance, you shouldn’t be scared of 60-40 situations even if you’re on the 40 percent side.

Generally the player who is dictating play and getting folds from their opponent will be the most successful player.

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