Omaha is more than just gambling, there are strategies involved.
Pot Limit Omaha Poker can offer a nice change of pace for players that are getting a little burned out on playing Texas Hold 'Em. There are some similarities between the two styles of poker play, but there are also some changes that help to alter the dynamic of the game. If you are thinking about giving Pot Limit Omaha poker a try, then you might want to consider the types of players that you will encounter and the rules of the game.
Who Likes to Play
There is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to PLO, but it is popular among those who want a change of pace from Hold ‘Em. While there is an element of having to bluff and read players, the ability to play and win at Hold ‘Em is much more dependent on these abilities. The differences in play in Omaha make it a more analytical game, and this can help it to appeal to those who like to work out the probabilities as they play. Additionally, the way that the betting is structured can make for some very high pots. Beyond that, every hand has a lot of potential outcomes and this can make the game interesting as you try to figure out which hands you might have. The wide-open possibilities that come with Omaha poker are part of what makes it difficult to work on a strategy of bluffing and reading the other players.
What Kind of Game is it?
Like Texas Hold ‘Em, Omaha poker is what you would call a community poker game. This means that there are cards on the table that are shared by all of the players. Additionally, players will also have their own cards that they need to combine with the community cards to make the best hand possible.
What are the Rules?
In Pot Limit Omaha Poker, the maximum bet allowed is restricted to the size of the pot including your call. This in comparison to no-limit Omaha poker which doesn't have these restrictions. Here is an example of how the pot limit works:
You’ll use four hole cards to make a hand.
First to act:
Max. Bet: $500
Second to act:
Pot: $1000 ($500 pre-flop + $500 pot bet from first to act)
Max Bet: $2000 ($500 pre-flop + $500 first bet +$500 call of first bet+ $500 raise)
Sometimes the math can get confusing, especially when odd numbers are used, but you need to announce "pot" to place the maximum bet and avoid being accused of string betting. First place your call bet and then you can total up all bets in the pot. You can also always ask the dealer what the max bet is.
When it comes to betting, players often bet more in pot-limit that no-limit Omaha or even Texas Hold 'em. The reason for this is because of the bet strength. If the pot is $500, and you’re the first to act and want to go all in for $1000, you can't with a $500 limit on betting. If you check raise a player with $500, you can move in. Another important difference in betting structure is that it is not possible to protect strong holdings early in the game.
Now for the game play. As mentioned above, there are some similarities between Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha poker. Both are community card games where the players share cards and in both games, players are dealt cards that are exclusively their own. The biggest difference that players new to Omaha will notice is that players are dealt four cards each; instead of two. After each player gets his or her cards, then there is a round of betting. After this first round of betting, the dealer reveals a 3-card flop. After the flop, players bet again and then move on to the turn card. Following the turn, you then have more betting followed by the river.
It’s impossible to have a low hand if there is anything higher than three 8’s on the board.
With the four cards each player is dealt, he or she must use two of them to make the best hand possible with three of the community cards. The use of two cards from the hand is a requirement. You can’t play the board with just one of your cards and you cannot play your entire hand.
As mentioned, with Omaha Pot Limit Poker you have two popular variations. You have the Hi/Lo and the Omaha High. With Omaha High, every player is basically competing to see who can make the highest hand from his or her four card deal. With the Omaha Hi/Lo version, the pot is split between the highest and the lowest qualifying hands.
With the Omaha Hi/Lo poker, each player makes a high and a low hand using the cards that they have. This means that there can be two different winners that split the pot or one winner that gets both the best high hand and the best low hand. For the low hand to qualify, the high card can be no greater than eight. This is why some people may refer to Omaha Hi/Lo as Omaha 8 or better.
The mechanics and strategy of a game of Omaha Hi/Lo can be a little confusing at first and it does take some playing time to get used to. However, once players get the hang of it, they tend to like the wide range of possibilities that can come with this format and the high stakes can make it very exciting.
With the way that Omaha poker is structured, a player will have a lot of possibilities when they first get their hand, and those possibilities can change dramatically depending on the community cards that come into play. To get a better idea of the mechanics of the game, let’s take a look at some examples of how games can unfold.
To start the example, we will say that we have a table with three players at it. In this example, we will label the players Player A, Player B and Player C. In the community cards, you have a 2S, 5C, 7D, 8C, and 10H.
In a game of standard Omaha High, Player A’s best possible hand is a Jack High straight with JackS, 10H, 9C, 8C, 7D. Player B’s best hand is three tens with 10H, 10S, 10C, 8C, 7D. And Player C’s best hand is a pair of fives with 5H, 5C, AceS, 10H, 8C. This makes Player A the winner with the Jack High straight.
However, if you had these same cards in a game of Omaha Hi/Lo, you would also have to consider the best low hands. Player A would still win half the pot with the best high hand, but there would also be half the pot going to whoever has the best low hand.
In this situation, Player A would not have a qualifying hand to compete for the best low hand. That is because Player A does not have two cards that are lower than 8 to make a low hand with. You have to have the two qualifying cards to even be eligible for the best low hand end of the game. That narrows it down to being between Player B and Player C for the best low hand.
In this situation, Player B’s best low hand is 7D, 5C, 3H, 2S, AceH. Player C’s best low hand in this situation would be 7D, 5C, 4S, 2S, AceH. With these hands, it means that Player B is the winner of the low hand because his is the lowest possible hand.
Omaha offers a wide range of possibilities.
With Omaha Hi/Lo, it is also possible for there to be no low hands available. If the community cards do not contain at least three cards that are of a value of eight or lower, then it is not possible for any person to make a low hand. In these situations, the player with the high gets to scoop the entire pot.
It is also common with Omaha Hi/Lo for there to be ties on the low hand. When this occurs, each of the two players with the tie gets a quarter of the total pot. With the high and low hand competition and the various possibilities that can occur, it can give Omaha Hi/Lo an interesting angle and it requires the player to make multiple reads as the game progresses.