How to Not Suck at PLO: The Five Commandments

Ben Lamb
Thou shalt not lose emotional control.

OK. So you’ve read the articles in this series and, ideally, played some hands to get a feel for the game.

Where do you go from here?

Omaha is a difficult game to master. It’s what makes the game so interesting and yet so profitable.

You can play thousands upon thousands of hands but if you’re not practicing correctly or you’re getting caught up in the gamble you may actually be doing yourself more harm than good.

It’s not the quantity of hands you play - it's the quality.

Focus on the Fundamentals

It’s easy to watch PLO online or on TV, see crazy hands go down and get caught up emulating the pros.

Here’s the thing though: The pros have played enough Omaha to know when to break the rules and when to stick to them, when to go with their reads and when to gamble.

As a new Omaha player it’s not enough to just go with "feelings." You have to stick to a very basic game plan and execute it.

When you’re a proven winner over hundreds of thousands of hands then you can start breaking the rules and advancing your game even further.

But until then you’ll likely get yourself into far more trouble than it’s worth.

 

The Five Commandments of Winning Omaha

1. Thou Shalt Always Play Within Thy Bankroll

Don’t chase bigger games because they look good unless you’re more than willing to go broke. You should have a bare minimum of 50 buy-ins for the level you’re playing.

Omaha is a swingy game and you don’t want to dump half your roll chasing some fish.

2. Thou Shalt Always Play the Odds

It’s the odds that make poker a profitable game and what separates it from table games. Poker is a beatable game because you can choose when to put money into the pot.

If you always make +EV decisions and always avoid –EV decisions you’ll always make money in the long run. It’s easy to get caught up in the game and chase “feelings,” but that’s not a winning play.

The only winning play is math. Know your odds and play accordingly.

3. Thou Shalt Always Play Tight and Make the Nuts

When learning to play Pot-Limit Omaha it’s no use to open your game up because you see the pros do it.

There will be a time for that when you’re an established winner. Until then you’re just going to end up getting yourself into difficult spots where you leave yourself open to make mistakes and lose money.

Play tight and look to make the nuts with a back-up plan.

4. Thou Shalt Not Get Married to Aces

Aces are pretty. But if you can’t get committed preflop then it’s better to play them slow.

Omaha is a game where pairs rarely win at showdown. Even if your aces are the best hand, it’s often very difficult to get them to showdown to find out.

Gavin Griffin
Thou shalt play within your roll.
 

If you’re marking yourself with aces they better be very good aces like A A J T - in other words aces with something to go along with them.

Otherwise you’re going to allow your opponents to play perfect against you while you’re stuck in the dark.

5. Thou Shalt Always Stay in Emotional Control

Omaha, even more than Hold’em, is a swingy game. You have to be able to keep your cool in the face of extreme variance.

If you go on tilt easily it might not be the game for you. When you lose control of your emotions you lose control of your ability to make winning decisions.

If you take a few beats you have to be able to take a step back and realize that you may be tilting. If you’re not in control of your emotions you should close all your games and take a break.

If you don’t recognize the symptoms you can blow week’s worth of hard grinding in just a few orbits. Stay in control and play winning poker, that’s always your number one goal.


If you stick to these rules and study the game, Pot-Limit Omaha is no different than any other game when you’re learning. You just have to make more +EV bets than –EV ones.

It’s just about recognizing what’s profitable and what’s not. That’s the hard part. You have to analyze the players, the board, your hand, the odds, everything.

It takes time and practice. But if you’re able to do that, the game is very rewarding - both mentally and financially.

More in the How to Not Suck at Pot-Limit Omaha series:

assets/photos/authors/_resampled/croppedimage6060-daniel-skolovy.jpg
About Daniel Skolovy

Daniel Skolovy started out in the gaming industry as a lowly dealer, spending countless graveyard shifts dealing blackjack, pai gow, carribean stud, baccarat, etc. He quickly became bored dealing games that were so obviously weighted in the house's favor.

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