Transitioning From No-Limit Hold’em to Pot-Limit Omaha

Thinking of switching from Hold'em to Omaha? Read our tips first!

No-Limit Hold’em is the most popular variant of poker, especially in the online poker world. Pot-Limit Omaha, however, continues to increase in popularity and is quickly becoming the game of choice for thousands of poker players.

Pot-Limit Omaha is a very popular cash game, although sites are adding more and more PLO tournaments. There are several reasons for the increasing popularity of PLO games.

Hold’em has been around for longer than Omaha so those games are tougher. Even low stakes NLHE games are frequented by solid players. They still make mistakes but fewer mistakes than their PLO counterparts.

Players also flock to Pot-Limit Omaha games because of the action the game provides. Hand equities run closer in PLO than NLHE so pots grow larger and do so faster. This also gives the impression Omaha is a game of luck, at least to the untrained eye.

In reality, however, the best PLO players are experts who push every tiny edge they can. You will find that new PLO players make far more mistakes which makes them very profitable to play against.

Main Differences Between No-Limit Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha

Hand rankings for NLHE and PLO are the exact same. A flush still beats a straight, and a Royal Flush is the best hand you can make. Even the structure is the same with preflop, turn, and river cards.

Having four hole cards instead of two is the biggest difference between the games. It’s also where players new to Omaha come unstuck. You must use exactly two hole cards to make the best five-card poker hand in Omaha. Compare this to NLHE where you can play the board.

Betting is different with PLO using a pot-limit structure. You can bet your entire stack in a NLHE game but only “pot” in PLO.

Calculating a pot-sized bet is relatively simple. The most you can bet is three-times the size of your opponent’s bet or raise plus the size of the pot before the bet or raise was made. That is the formula for betting to pot. Betting by pot size is the same formula except it is twice the size.

Don’t worry if you can’t do this calculation in your head. Your dealer in a live game will do it for you. Online poker is simpler because the software takes care of the math.

Tips For PLO Success

Starting hand selection is a key aspect of becoming a solid Pot-Limit Omaha player. It’s tempting to play any four cards but don’t! Playing too loose decimates your bankroll. Try playing hands where all four cards complement each other. Qs-Js-Td-9d is a very strong hand in Omaha games, for example. As-Kd-9h-7d looks like it has potential but is quite weak.

Likewise, don’t be tempted to play Hold’em with four cards. The similarities between the two games are there for all to see but the optimal strategy for both is vastly different.

A big danger for new Omaha players is overplaying big pairs. Aces and Kings are super strong in Hold’em, but very vulnerable in PLO. As-Ac is a 77% favorite over Th-9h in Hold’em. As-Ac-7d-4c is only a 55.3% favorite over Qd-Jd-Th-9h in Omaha.

It’s tempting to play short-stacked when trying a new game but don’t in Omaha. You need fold equity at all times and enough chips to make believable players when you have cards that block opponents’ potential holdings.

Do you remember how we previously wrote about the power of position in Hold’em? How you should try not to play out of position? This is crucial in Omaha games. Position is everything in PLO because it’s so easy to exploit players out of position. It’s that bad that your hand can almost be face up to your opponents.

Lastly, don’t inflate the pot unnecessarily. The pot-limit structure means your opponents stay around longer. They’ll never fold once the pot reaches a certain size, destroying your fold equity.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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