The Golf of Poker
Omaha variants are to live poker excitement what golf is to sports excitement. There are lots of standing around with puzzled looks on their faces, and then all of a sudden, something exciting happens.
Like golf, the biggest problem with Omaha is the pace of play. The dealer has to hand out four cards per player, which takes longer. The players take longer to decide if a pocket is worth playing because they have so many possibilities.
For Hi-Low it’s even worse. More players are in each hand and more hands go all the way to the river. Many pots wind up being chopped, which means the dealer has to split up chips after each hand, which drags it out even more.
Of the 10 Omaha variant tourneys played at the WSOP this summer, only two drew fields of more than 1,000 players. A $565 buy-in event had 2,483 runners – the largest field ever for a non NLHE event in WSOP history – and a $1,000 buy-in event that attracted 1,106 players. Six of the 10 had less than 700 players.
The $10,000 buy-in Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better Championship this summer drew a whopping 163 entrants and took four days of play to determine a winner. Four days to eliminate 162 players!
Yes many players love the Omaha variants and the different strategies with limit betting and high-low. But in general, it’s much more exciting online than live.
Say Aloha to Omaha: Add more Bounty Events
Attendance in Omaha format events on the WSOP Circuit has been abysmal for several years. In 2015-16, eight stops featured Omaha Hi-Low. Those nine tournaments (one stop had two events) averaged 120 players. By comparison, the Main Event at those same eight stops averaged 616 runners, meaning the field for Hi-Low events was roughly 19 percent of the turnout for the Main Event.
There were 12 Pot-Limit Omaha events in 2015-16, which averaged 138 runners. The Main Events at those same stops averaged 863 runners, which means the PLO events drew a paltry 16%.
More stops should hold a Bounty tourney. There’s something exhilarating about knocking out a player and getting an immediate reward, and the numbers back it up.
Four stops took the bounty plunge in 2015-16. Those events averaged 150 players and attracted 29% of the size of the Main Events.
The recently completed stop at Horseshoe Hammond featured bounty, Hi-Low and PLO tourneys. The bounty event attracted 269 runners, well ahead of the Hi-Low (163) event and more than double the PLO (126) tourney.
The only bounty tourney at the WSOP this summer drew more than 2,100 players, and it had a $1,500 buy-in. Only one of the Omaha tourneys had more players, and it featured a $565 buy-in.
More sites need to schedule bounty tourneys instead of running out Omaha events that are drawing fewer and fewer players.