No Limit Hold’em is still the most popular poker variant, but Pot Limit Omaha is the fastest growing. Whether low or high stakes, PLO has established itself as a very popular cash game, and Omaha can also be found on the schedules of most online tournament series.
PLO is especially interesting for players looking for a bigger edge in comparison to Hold’em, which has created many good, all-around solid players against whom it can be difficult to find an edge. PLO also appeals to the many recreational players who want to have maximum fun and excitement at the tables and are therefore attracted to this ‘action’ game.
At some point, the general level of PLO players will increase, but right now you can dive deep into the PLO universe and be optimistic about what you’ll find…
Differences between Pot-Limit Omaha and No-Limit Hold’em
A fundamental difference between PLO and NLHE is the prefix: ‘Pot-Limit’ – a bet can not exceed the amount in the pot. The most obvious difference, meanwhile – and the reason why PLO attracts so many players – is the fact that players are dealt four hole cards instead of two. Not surprisingly, this changes the strategy fundamentally.
You must use exactly two of the four cards dealt to make the best possible five card hand with three of the community cards. This is obligatory. In other words, if there are four spades in the middle, you have no flush if you only have the ace of spades – you would need a second spade card.
With four instead of two hole cards, many combinations are possible, and hand strength increases considerably – but remember that this also applies to your opponents!
These significant differences mean that PLO has a different dynamic to NLHE. Pre-flop ranges look very different with PLO, and professionals rightly call the variant a ‘post-flop game’. Note that you have to acquire a completely new understanding of the nuances and differences as well as a different mindset to become a strong PLO player.
Tips for aspiring PLO players
To help Hold’em players move and subsequently adjust to Pot Limit Omaha, here are some fundamental points to consider.
1. Do not play a 4-card version of Hold’em
It’s easy for players used to only thinking in NLH mode to underestimate the fundamental difference of the there not only being four hole cards rather than two, but that EXCACTLY two of them must be used as part of the best 5-card hand. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming PLO is essentially the same as NLH, just with a different number of hole cards.
2. Do not overestimate high pairs
Of course, Aces or Kings are also strong hands in PLO, but a great deal depends on the board texture and the number of players you’re up against in a hand. It’s very common to overestimate AAxx and KKxx.
3. Respect Position
Just as it’s a bad idea in Hold’em to not factor in positional considerations, Pot Limit Omaha is no different. Indeed, it can be even more significant to play out of position. What kind of a hand someone has can be more evident in PLO, so giving away a positional advantage as well isn’t to be recommended.
4. Maintain prudent bankroll management
Because PLO is seen as such an action game, it’s easy for new players to try to quickly leapfrog a few rungs of the ladder by hoping to make money quickly trying their luck at higher stakes even if bankroll conditions don’t justify such a move. Not surprisingly, this approach tends to come unstuck and lead to serious trouble. The very fact that PLO can be so brutal is exactly why good bankroll management should be adhered to religiously.
5. Don’t tilt
Again, PLO is a fiery animal as it is and brings with it some potentially horrible variance, without letting tilt do even more damage. Swings are part of poker, and even though PLO can take downswings to the extreme, it’s imperative to keep a clear head and not let bad fortune or – of course – your mistakes affect you.
6. Do not play every hand
With four cards and all those extra possibilities they bring, it’s tempting to get carried away and play too many hands. It’s a necessary adjustment when switching from NLH to PLO to re-evaluate starting hand criteria. A good tip is that we should be looking to make sure that all four cards work together in some way, as well as factor in the sheer number of hand combinations that are possible.
7. Be on guard
Backdoors and redraws are simply part of the game. Always keep in mind that not only you, but your opponents play with four cards, too, and the ‘lead’ can so easily change hands in PLO.