As No Limit Hold'em poker games are getting increasingly difficult, we are seeing more and more players transitioning to Pot Limit Omaha. New players who are inexperienced in Hold'em may as well be drawing dead when they deposit their money. They have started to realise this and are now looking for a way to gamble that offers them a better chance of winning. Say hello to Pot Limit Omaha Poker!
Pot Limit Omaha is a game of increased variance, so poor players can run up huge bankrolls without much knowledge of the game because equities between hands preflop are so much closer. Weak players arenít bleeding as much money preflop as they are in Hold'em and can go on astonishingly sick runs, or just lose money at a much slower rate. This is a great thing. Anything that gives the fish more confidence that they have a chance of winning entices them to keep playing.
As an experienced player coming from No Limit Hold'em (NLH) and transitioning to Pot Limit Omaha (PLO), there are several things you should be aware of before you dip your toes into the exciting PLO waters:
This again comes down to hand equities being similar. AAxx vs any 4 cards is only a a 65/35 favourite. Although a sizable favourite, itís nowhere similar to NLH where AA is an 85/15 favourite against any two cards. What this should tell you is that your preflop edge in any spot is not a huge amount, and it comes down to a lot of postflop factors to determine whether you are a winning or losing player. Great PLO players are aware that different hands are strong on different boards postflop. Getting away from big pairs postflop in PLO is something you must learn to do.
In PLO it becomes right to play a lot of hands in position, even more so than in NLH due to similar preflop equities. Whenever you can go to the flop with 35%+ equity against an opponent and you have position and lots of money left behind for post flop, itís hard not to play your hand profitably. In NLH its often incorrect to call early position raises from late position with speculative hands even though you have position. The reason for this is, if youíre playing against a strong hand range you are usually at a huge preflop equity disadvantage, however, in PLO where equities are similar, your postflop positional advantage can easily turn a hand with 40% equity into a profitable one. Use position as leverage on your opponent and make life hard for them as well as profiting!
Although equities are similar you need to be aware of hands post flop playability. Yes connected cards and suited cards add to your equity, but what is really valuable is cards that make nut draws. High cards make nut straight draws, high flush cards make big flushes. There is a certain amount of reverse implied odds of playing weak suited cards and low connected cards when you make non nut made hands. In PLO itís important to have hands that make the nuts so you can be more confident in your actual equity. Making a second nuts hand and being confused where you stand is not a good situation. Itís also worth noting that high cards obviously make a lot more top two pair hands, whereas low cards make a lot of bottom two pairs. Anyone who has played any PLO knows that bottom two pair is not a strong hand.
This is simple, because you have 4 cards instead of 2 thereís infinitely more hand combos. In NLH hands like two pair are strong hands but in PLO two pair is usually a bluff catcher at best. This obviously depends on board texture, and I can think of plenty of situations where you can value bet two pair in PLO. However, two pair is frequently a second best hand.
Low flushes are not the same in PLO. Itís much easier to make a flush, so you usually want to avoid putting in too much of your stack with a low flush. If your opponent is betting aggressively you need to learn to fold these hands, it may not seem natural because a flush is pretty much always the nuts in NLH. In PLO a low flush is a non nut hand.
In short handed NLH itís much more correct to play a tight style of between 15 and 30% of hands depending on the game conditions, your opponents etc. In PLO, because of the similar preflop equities you can profitably play a lot more hands, especially from late position. I have noticed that the biggest winners in low stakes 6-max PLO games play between 20-30% of hand and over 40% of hands in late position. Obviously this isnít an exact science and Iím sure a lot of advanced good aggressive players can profitably play way over 30% of hands. However, what Iím sure of is, if youíre playing below 20% of hands in a PLO game your probably playing too tight. Whereas in a NLH game, playing less than 20% of hands is fine.