Know Hold'em? Learn Pot-Limit Omaha – How Not to Suck at PLO Ep. 1

Published on 13 January 2016 by Pokerlistings 2694
There's more to the world of poker than just Texas Hold'em, despite what you might think from watching poker on TV. In this beginner poker strategy video series we show you exactly what you need to know to make the jump from Texas Hold'em to Pot-Limit Omaha, without losing your bankroll. A lot of the skills you learned playing Hold'em definitely apply to PLO but there are a few key differences, the biggest being that you get four hole cards instead of two, and the game is played pot-limit instead of no-limit. If any of that seems intimidating to you now, don't worry. We're going to break it down step by step to make sure you don't miss a thing. In the first episode of How Not to Suck at PLO we run through why getting four hole cards makes such a big difference, and the adjustments you need to make compared to playing Texas Hold'em. Since everyone gets four hole cards, big hands are way more common in PLO than in Texas Hold'em. That's why it's really important to play strong hands and not set yourself up to get coolered when you're putting in lots of chips with the second or third best hand. We talk through how to read hands in Omaha since you have to use exactly two of your hole cards and we also explain how to play pot-limit and give you a clever trick that makes calculating pot bets and raises really simple. Watch the first video in this beginner PLO strategy series and keep an eye out for four more installments in the series, coming soon.
Chances are if you're looking to pick up Pot-Limit Omaha at this point in the game you've already got some experience with Texas Hold'em, and that's a good thing because the two games are really similar. With the exception of getting four hole cards instead of two, and being pot-limit instead of no-limit, the mechanics of both games are virtually identical.

So, your knowledge of position and your ability to calculate pot odds and equity is going to give you a big head start on becoming a good Omaha player, but believe it or not, those two extra hole cards change things in a big way so it's really important not to jump right into a game of PLO and start playing exactly like you do in No-Limit Hold'em.

The Big Difference

Like we said, the most obvious difference in Omaha is that you get four hole cards. That means that it's way easier to make more big hands.

What you need to understand is that compared to Hold'em you'll generally need a much stronger hand to win a big pot at showdown. It also means that it's way more common to get coolered by the nuts if you're playing a second or third-best hand.

In Hold'em, top pair top kicker is a strong hand that can win medium and big pots but in Omaha that'll almost never happen. Sets are common and if a hand goes all the way to showdown with lots of chips in the middle, straights and flushes are definitely the norm.

So right away as a Hold'em player you need to recalibrate your idea of hand values and realize that marginal hands are way more vulnerable in Omaha.

Exactly Two Hole Cards

In Hold'em you can play two, one or none of your hole cards so for example, you can play the board when all five community cards are the same suit. In Omaha you can't do that, you have to play exactly two of your hole cards. So in Omaha, for example, you can never make a flush unless you have two suited hole cards.

That, and the fact that you have two more hole cards to factor into your draws and made hands, means you really have to pay attention to make sure you're reading your hand correctly. It's really important to know how many outs you have and to understand which cards you're hoping for to make your hand.

A lot of experienced Hold'em players just assume they'll automatically see all their draws and made hands but when you're playing Omaha you have to work harder to pay attention and make sure you're not missing anything.

Understanding Pot Limit

Unlike No-Limit Hold'em where you can bet all your chips at once if you want, in PLO your bets and raises are limited to the size of the pot at the time.

If you're playing online poker it's no worries because the software will automatically calculate how much you can bet and you can just click the button for “bet pot” or “bet half pot”, but if you're playing a home game or in a casino it's really important to be able to figure that stuff out for yourself.

The rule for pot-limit is that you can bet or raise the amount that's in the pot, including your call of the previous bet. Let's look at an easy example. There's $100 in the pot on the flop, your opponent bets $50, another player calls and you decide to raise the maximum.

Add up what's already in the pot and your opponents bets and calls, that's $200. Also remember you have to include your call as well, so that's $250. That's the maximum you can raise after calling the outstanding bet, so if you want to raise pot, you'd be raising to a total of $300.

The Trick to Calculating Pot Bets/Raises

There's a really clever trick that makes it a lot easier to figure out what you can raise to. Just multiply the last bet by three and then add all the other bets and what's in the pot. That will be the total number you can raise to.

So in our example, the last player to act before you put in $50. Multiply that by three which gives you $150 and then add the original $50 bet and the $100 in the pot. So if you want to raise pot, you'll raise to a total of $300.

Next Steps

Now that you've got a better understanding of how Omaha is different from Hold'em, we're going to go into way more detail about the things you need to learn that are unique to PLO.

Over the next four videos in this series we're going to explain what kinds of starting hands you should be playing and which ones to watch out for, how to play in position, how to bluff and how to play your draws. We'll also give you a heads-up about the kinds of players you'll meet at the Omaha tables and how to play against them.

Stay tuned for those videos and in the meantime, get some experience playing Omaha for free online or for low stakes with your friends at your next home game.