Omaha Tips for No Limit Holdem Players
Tip 1: Only play the very best hands from up front. You really can't understand how important position is in Pot Limit Omaha until you've played it. Even NLH is a positional game, but playing in early position in PLO can really be a disaster. You cannot play mediocre hands from up front and profit with them in the long run.
Tip 2: Rarely raise from early position. You don't generally want to create large pots to play out of position in PLO. I can say, personally, I only raise UTG when I have an exceptionally strong hand, usually AAXX double suited or better. Even when I flop a good hand that is not the nuts, I am very reluctant to raise from out of position in PLO. Resist the temptation. After putting in enough hours you'll begin to realize the importance of this concept. It's difficult to put into words, but believe me when I say that all the top players understand it.
Tip 3: Rarely bluff. If you are the type of NLH player who likes to fire at a lot of pots and is often betting and check-raising with garbage, you'll have to learn to adjust or you will not be successful at PLO. This is simply not a game about bluffing. Your bets should be a mix of value bets and betting on the come (when drawing) but you should almost never bluff. The only possible exceptions come when you took the lead before the flop and the flop came out very uncoordinated. And even then I wouldn't bluff into more than one or at most two players. Making continuation bluffs requires exceptional reading skills, and I mean reading the board as well as the players. Whereas continuation bets are pretty standard in NLH, they should really only be attempted by strong PLO players.
Tip 4: Don't pay to draw to anything less than the nut hand. In NLH I will usually be willing to call a bet of ½ the size of the pot if I am drawing to a pretty good flush or straight. In PLO, I am much more particular about which hands I will chase. The first reason is, with so many cards out against you it is too likely that someone else is drawing to the nuts. The other, more subtle reason, is that you are unlikely to have a bet paid off if you do make your (non-nut) hand by someone with an inferior hand. I think we all understand the danger of making the second best hand, and the implications of making bets that will only be called when we lose. In fact, very often you will not be able to get paid on the end even when you make the nuts. That reduces the implied odds you have on a draw and therefore reduces the size of bet you can call when drawing to only a flush. Sometimes you will find yourself with top pair, or an inside straight draw, and a draw to the nut flush, giving you more outs than you generally have when drawing in NLH. For the reasons I just described and others, PLO demands a working understanding of pot odds and counting outs. Here's a rule of thumb: you typically need at least 13 outs to call a bet that's over half the pot. Calling a pot sized bet with 13 outs is about a break even proposition. I don't much care for break even propositions. I will only call a pot sized bet with 13 outs when I believe my opponent will pay off at least a medium sized bet if I make my hand.
Tip 5: Stay away from trap hands. Many hands like two small pairs or four running connectors (wraps) that are 4-7 or smaller look better than they are. I liken these hands to hands like KJ in NLH. The problem with hands like these is the enormous "negative implied odds". What I mean is that these hands will typically only win small pots and lose big ones, a losing combination. Just like when you play KJ in NLH and you flop top pair. The only way you'll get any action from a strong player is when your hand is beat. Similar situations arise in PLO when you flop a set with a starting hand like 7766. If the flop comes out T87, you'll probably have to go with it, the problem is that if someone started with two tens in their hand you're most likely going to lose a lot of, if not all, your chips. When playing a small wrap like 3456, even when you flop a draw, it's just too likely that you'll be drawing to the low end of a straight. Drawing to the low end of a straight is dangerous in NLH, but it is just suicidal in PLO.
Tip 6: Players new to PLO have a tendency to see way too many flops. With four cards in your hand, almost every hand will seem to have some sort of potential. I've even heard fairly strong NLH players say that you should play a lot more hands in PLO. That is very far from a true statement and it's also one of the main reasons that it is so lucrative to play the game against NLH players. Play tight. Sure, you are starting with four cards and could make a pretty decent hand if the flop comes out just right. Just remember that everyone else is starting with 4 cards as well, and "decent" hands don't win PLO pots.
My advice to anyone looking to add Pot Limit Omaha to your home poker games is to really try to absorb the information I just provided. Understanding these simple concepts alone will make you a solid favorite against your average group of No Limit Hold'em players. The game is a great deal of fun. If you introduce it to your "NLH buddies" they are likely to enjoy it. If you begin to study the game and they don't, I think you'll be surprised how easy it is to consistently beat them. If you've taken anything away from this article, I hope that it is how different PLO is from NLH, and how much that is misunderstood. Just read more, think more, and play more than your opponents, and you'll win more. Good "Luck!"
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