Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) is a complex poker game that’s second in overall popularity only to No Limit Texas Hold’em. With Hold’em becoming more and more “solved” and the number of weak players across the board declining, many are looking towards PLO as the next big thing.
Omaha is an exciting game that offers much more action, and players aren’t as well-versed in PLO strategies as of yet. This opens up a world of new possibilities for those looking to keep making money playing poker.
At the same time, the game attracts many casual players looking to have some fun as many NLHE games lack action and are just not enough to keep their interest.
Whatever your reasons might be for considering Pot Limit Omaha, these three quick tips should help you make a smoother transition as a PLO beginner and protect you from making some costly mistakes during your initial attempts to crack the game.
1. Pre-flop hand selection is crucial in PLO
You may think that this goes without saying as the same principle applies to Hold’em. However, PLO poker games can make you feel like almost all hands are good enough to play as they all can flop big. The reality is, you should be much more careful about choosing which hands to get involved with before the flop.
Many PLO starting hands that may appear quite playable are, in fact, borderline or straight-up trash! You should stick to only strong hands when you’re just starting out. Otherwise, you’ll end up in many tough spots after the flop, and this will cost you a lot of money in the long run.
Generally speaking, the best starting hands in Omaha are the ones that can make the nuts, have all four cards working together (connected), and also have the potential to make flushes (suited).
Big pocket pairs like Aces and Kings with additional cards that can help you make straights and flushes are thus your best bet. Middle connectors and small pairs aren’t nearly as good as they will often make second-best hands, such as smaller straights, lower sets, etc. So if you’re a Pot Limit Omaha beginner you need to adhere to strict guidelines for your starting hand selection.
2. Avoid playing out of position as much possible
In poker, it is impossible to only play in position. You’ll have to play some PLO hands out of position when defending a big blind or when you’re dealt premium starting holdings under the gun.
Even so, you should do as much as you can to play more hands in position and expand your starting range on the button in PLO games.
Due to the nature of the game, in Omaha, being in position and having control over the betting can be even more important than holding good cards! You’ll have a much harder time realizing your equity out of position, and you’ll also lose more when you’re uncertain about the strength of your hand.
Always think about your relative position when deciding whether to play a particular hand or not. If you have a hand that you think is borderline, let position be the determining factor. If you want to expand your starting hand range, starting with your selection on the button is probably the best option.
3. Avoid drawing to non-nut hands
One of the biggest mistakes inexperienced PLO players make is paying draw to hands that don’t constitute the nuts. You don’t want to be calling big bets or pushing the action while trying to make a hand that is likely to be the second-best even if you do hit your best card out of the deck.
When it comes to drawing, try to stick to only the strongest of hands. Of course, it’s still fine to try and make a hand that’s not the absolute nuts if you can get there cheaply. But don’t get heavily involved in pots where your best option is to make a hand that can easily be behind. This once again draws importance to how selective you need to be with what PLO hands to play in the first place.
This scenario is most common with flushes. Players will draw to a King- or Queen-high flush, and when they finally make their hand, they’ll commit their entire stack, only to see another player was actually drawing to the nut flush.
It happens much more often than you think, especially if you are transitioning from NLHE, as flush-over-flush scenarios aren’t nearly as common in that game. So, in a nutshell, be careful!
The aforementioned three tips won’t make you an expert Pot Limit Omaha player, but they give you some solid fundamentals to get you started in the game at whatever casino you play poker at. As you play more, gather more experience, and learn other strategies, you’ll improve. Just don’t give up, and don’t let mistakes you make along the way frustrate you too much. There’s a LOT more variance in PLO than NLHE, after all. Just look at any missteps you might make as a part of the learning process and keep on grinding!