Pot Limit Omaha
The game is studied frequently, and even when you play against players who you have an edge against, the difference in skill level between the best and worst player at the table may not be that significant. In Omaha, there is a much greater potential for profit if you are willing to commit a small amount of time to really learning the game. I like to play the game when it is my turn to deal and we're playing dealers choice. That's because I feel like I'm the best PLO player in my group, and it's also because PLO is very much a positional game. I always deal games that offer the dealer a substantial edge based on position. It could be argued that there is no other game that offers more of a positional advantage than PLO.
I particularly enjoy playing the game with a group of NLH players. Players who primarily play NLH might be worse, as a whole, than relatively inexperienced poker players that do not play NLH. That's because PLO seems to be very similar to NLH, but in truth it is about as similar as night and day. I see NLH players raising with hands from out of position that I wouldn't even play on the button. Hold'em players all seem to be under the same, errant, impression. They believe that any hand that contains two decent NLH hands is a great PLO hand. That's simply not the case. AK is a great hand in NLH, and most players would play 77 from just about any position as well, but is AK77 a particularly strong PLO hand? No, it really isn't. I'll play the hand only if it's double suited, giving me two chances to make good flushes, but only in late position.
Making the Transition from NLH to PLO
In order to make the transition from NLH to PLO as painless as possible, I'm going to try to give you an idea of what constitutes a good starting hand and then give some pretty general pointers. There are some subtle strategic differences between the two games that I'm going to address.
The main concept that NLH players tend to neglect is that your four card starting hand is actually like having 6 hands in NLH, not two. For example, if you have JT98 (one of the best starting hands you can be dealt), you have the combinations JT, J9, J8, T9, T8, and 98. Any of these "six hands" could flop a strong hand or a draw to a strong hand. It's the fact that all of the cards in JT98 play well together that gives the starting hand its power. A hand like AcKd8s7s does give you two playable NLH starting hands, and to NLH players that may seem pretty good. The problem is that there are just too many of the cards in the hand that don't play well together.
For instance, K7 is not a good starting hand even in NLH. A7 is really just as weak. As a matter of fact, while AK is a very solid hand in NLH, it really isn't even that great to have in your PLO hand unless the A and the K are "double suited" with the other two cards. The main reason that AK is a good hand in NLH is that when you hit the flop with it you will have top pair top kicker. While TPTK is pretty strong in NLH, in Omaha, it's usually not even worth a bet.
By and large Omaha is a game about sets and flushes. Even when you hold top set, you have to be cautious if the board offers potential flushes and straights. AAxx is still a very powerful hand in Omaha, but you will usually have to flop a set with it to feel very safe. You can play any AAxx combination before the flop in Omaha; just realize that it isn't nearly as powerful a hand in PLO as it is in NLH. The other two cards are still very important, even when you start with an AA. The best draw usually wins in Omaha, but you should remember though that AA is the pre-flop nuts. Most of the time a hand that calls your raise when you have AAxx isn't much more than a 3 to 2 dog when the money goes in.
Starting with strongly coordinated hands is the key to PLO. You want all four of your cards to work well together. Most players consider AAJT "double suited" to be the very best starting hand. There are some top players who prefer AAKK double suited. Double suited means that you have two of one suit and two of another (AcKcAdK). I actually have to agree with the majority in that AAJT is my favorite starting hand in PLO. In reality, it doesn't matter which hand is stronger, you're going to play them exactly the same before the flop (see how much money you can get in). No hand really starts to be defined until the flop in PLO.
♣ Continued at: Omaha Tips for No Limit Holdem Players
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