Basics of Pot Limit Omaha, for Hold’em players

by ~ September 15th, 2008. Filed under: Basics of poker, Instructional posts, Pot Limit Omaha.

* Modified January 7th, 2009 *

Pot Limit Omaha (Hi) is not Hold’em with two hands. In other words, AK66 of four different suits is not a hand. T987 with two of two suits is. Besides the basic rule difference that you must use two of your hole cards to make a hand, not just one or none as in Hold’em, here are some general things to keep in mind if you’re just starting out with PLO:

  • All four of your hole cards should work together. Double suited, with all four cards close together is ideal. You’re not dealing with two Hold’em hands, but actually six possible hands, so having all your cards working together maximizes flush and straight possiblities.
  • On the flop, two pair is the minimum made hand that you should be betting with. This doesn’t mean calling big bets with two pair if the board is dangerous and you have no draws.
  • By the river every board that has no pair on it gives some combination of cards to a straight.
  • In Hold’em if you are playing against decent players in some situations you can assume that someone chasing a flush or straight to the river is highly unlikely. In PLO, because of the combinations of the four hole cards, your opponent may have had more than one draw option, or a made hand in combination with draws that made it worthwhile for them to call to the river for that flush or straight draw.
  • By the same token, if you have a made hand with a good draw or just multiple draws it can be worthwhile calling down.
  • Do not slowplay. There are far too many hands that can outdraw you. If you have a set on the flop, bet/raise because straights/flushes can outdraw you. If you have the nut flush, bet or if the board pairs you could be dead to a full house. Don’t try to string players out to get more money in unless you have the draw to back up your made hand.
  • If you’re a good Hold’em player, you know that your bet/raise percentages need to be close to the percentage of total flops that you see. In PLO it’s not bad for your statistics to show more calling and less raising because there are so many draws and combinations that are worth calling for.
  • At the same time, the relative value of any hand preflop is not nearly so dominant as a pair of Aces preflop in Hold’em, so raising is preflop is not always +EV. At a beginner table you can often spot the Hold’em players because they’ll raise AA/KK preflop even when they don’t have suits or other cards to work with these cards.
  • Position is still very important. Toss your weaker hands from early position and don’t be afraid to raise your good ones when you are in late position.

In general you just have to play a lot of hands to begin to be able to read the strength of your hand. When you fold, check out your folded cards, not to become results oriented (oh, I folded 378K when the board came 569 and I would have flopped a straight) but just to practice reading how your cards fit the board. In general, get used to

  • seeing the flush draws even when they appear on the turn,
  • the straights that fill, and
  • get used to thinking about being on the lookout for full houses when the board pairs.

One of the nice things about playing beginner level PLO is that the tables are full of Hold’em players who don’t know these basic differences about PLO and so you can take advantage of them when you find them and they bet their top pair or think that their naked Ace makes a four flush.

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