How to Not Suck at PLO: Play to the Nuts

Five years ago you’d be hard pressed to find a Pot-Limit Omaha game outside of Las Vegas or a few other cities. Now almost every poker room you step into has at least one PLO game going.

The reason for PLO’s new-found popularity is simple. It’s a super fun, action-packed game.  And in fact some of the highest-stakes poker games played around the world are also online Pot-Limit Omaha games. With four cards to work with instead of two, players play far more hands and gamble it up way more often than in Texas Hold’em.

The action-packed nature of the game also inherently draws weaker players looking to gamble. And because hand values run so much closer together and there’s so much variance, it takes much longer for a bad player to realize he’s actually a losing player.

Omaha’s popularity is going to continue to rise so there’s no better time to start learning How to Not Suck at Pot-Limit Omaha. Before you start though, be very clear on this – PLO is not just Texas Hold’em with four cards.

Differences Between Omaha and Hold’em?

pot limit omaha tips

Omaha is a game that, on the surface, looks just like Hold’em but with twice as many cards. It is on some level but it goes much, much deeper than that. It's like Hold'em, but it's not Hold'em. That said, to learn Omaha you must first have a firm understanding of the basic principles of Hold’em. If you don’t already then close this article and start reading how to play Hold’em here.

Omaha is About Making the Nuts

With two extra cards in play Omaha is all about making the nuts. In Hold’em you can regularly win pots without the nuts. You win with pairs, two pairs and sets. Straights and flushes are almost always good.
In Omaha, pairs rarely win. A set often loses to an over-set. If you don’t have the nut straight or nut flush someone else probably does and you’re going to get felted.

Repeat: Omaha is a game of the nuts. The problem, however, is that what the nuts is changes on every street. So, sometimes the nuts aren’t enough and you’ll also need a back up plan.

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Be on the Right Side of the “Freeroll”

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In Omaha, you have to be worried about getting “freerolled” in a hand. What does getting “freerolled” mean? An example:

You have 9♠ T♣ J♥ A♠. The flop is 6♠ 7♠ 8♦. On a flop like that one there are many different ways to make a straight.

Any combination of 54 or 95 makes a smaller straight. You have the nut straight as well as the nut flush draw and a draw to a bigger straight.

You have this board crushed. Not only do you “cooler” any smaller straight but you also have a freeroll (with your flush draw and bigger straight draw) on any other player who has likewise flopped the nut straight.

When players first come over from Hold’em they may think they have the nuts with any straight and be happy to get it in. But in Omaha, more times than not if you have bottom straight and a lot of money goes in you’re going to be way behind.

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What's the Key to Omaha Strategy?

Omaha’s not only a game of the nuts but a game of “the nuts with a back-up plan.” What we’re going to show you in the rest of this series is how to be on the right side of those “coolers” and how to be the one freerolling, not the one being freerolled. If you can master that, you’ll be on your way to not sucking at Pot Limit Omaha. Watch our introductory video on making the switch from Holdem to Omaha below:

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