Many have noticed that the ultra-high-stakes online games aren't running as often as they used to. The $300/$600 No-Limit Hold'em games are a boneyard compared to what they were in the past. While the $200/$400 and $300/$600 NLHE tables remain vacant, the $200/$400 Pot-Limit Omaha tables are thriving. Why the sudden change?
One obvious reason for the decline in NLHE games is that the quality of the average high-stakes player is pretty damn good nowadays. A handful of players will sit at different heads-up tables and refuse to play each other, while at the same time not getting any action.
The reason is that they all know each other and would rather not play a tough heads-up opponent. The half dozen or so of them sit around and wait to see if a fish will swim by, but it seems like lately those are few and far between. Time to play Pot-Limit Omaha!
NLHE can sometimes be a one-dimensional game. There is too little that can go right and too much that can wrong. In Omaha the expanded possibilities can allow a player to be more creative. A player at a PLO table has so many more options to make bluffs and semi-bluffs.
Say in NLHE the board has three hearts and you hold only the ace of hearts with another random card. For the purpose of this discussion your opponent is playing his hand face up. He has the king-high flush.
You can try to make a big play at the pot and, if you're deep enough, you might get away with it. Usually you will get called and your bluff will not succeed.
In Omaha, a bluff like that goes to a whole different level.
Due to the fact that you get four cards in Omaha it is much easier for your opponent to convince herself that you do, in fact, have it. Blocker cards become much more important because having double the cards makes it much easier for you to actually hold the monsters that you represent.
A believable bluff is a good bluff. You might get that player to lay down a flush much more often because she will be convinced that, given the action, you must have the nuts.
Omaha also has a certain allure to it because it can be played at a very high skill level, but at the same time offers players way more action. Open up a PLO table any day of the week and you'll see pots reaching up into the hundreds of thousands, with hands you wouldn't expect to see.
In PLO giving free cards is very dangerous for someone with a made hand, whereas someone with a monster combo draw that figures to be a favorite over just about everything also wants to stick it in. This leads to monster pots and seemingly never-ending action.
There are a lot of thin-value situations in PLO and it is what the players decide to do in these hands that can separate the big-time winners from the big-time losers. The good players can make the proper decisions and still appear to give a ton of action, while the bad ones can make the wrong ones and not realize how bad their mistakes are.
For those who are ahead of the curve at PLO, it's party time. They're winning money hand over fist because as the NLHE players start to transition, they make many exploitable mistakes. They play too many hands and take them too far. Many of them don't even know how to value their hands pre-flop.
There is no telling how much better the games will become or how long they will be that way, but the time is now and the game is Pot-Limit Omaha. Go get some!