Pot Limit Omaha Basics ( PLO )
PLO (Pot Limit Omaha) is one of the poker variants which are emerging more and more popular these days. PLO is hailed as a game where the luck factor takes a back seat and where players’ skill is the decisive factor not only in the long-term outcome, but in the short-term results as well.
That’s exactly why you should stick to Texas Holdem as a beginner. In PLO, a rookie doesn’t stand a chance against a skilled and eperienced opponent. Playing the game hoping that Lady Luck would bail you out won’t cut it either. PLO is a game which is widely viewed as a test of poker skill. I reckon you do know about Tom dwan’s $1 million challenge series against Patrik Antonius. Well guess what: the two are playing PLO at several tables simultaneously.
The first thing you need to understand about PLO is that starting hand selection becomes more important than in Texas Holdem. In Omaha you get 4 hole cards instead of two, which means you get a better idea about what sort of hand you’re likely to make from the get go.
This translates into much tighter starting hand selection. In PLO sometimes you have to sit around for quit a while until a reasonable starting hand hits you. Playing weaker starting hands is the fastest way to getting felted: when all your opponents are playing better starting hands than you, you are definitely at a huge disadvantage.
In Omaha, paired starting hands retain value, but the redraw posssibilities offered by the hand are also important. This is exactly why the best starting hand in PLO is the A,A,K,K but the second best is not the A,A, Q,Q, but rather the A,A,J,T because of the reddraw possibilities it offers.
The second thing you have to understand about PLO hand selection is that no starting hand gives you a comfortably big edge over your opponents. In Texas Holdem, The A,A has a 66% win ratio over the second best hand which is K,K. In Omaha, th besthand retains only a 6% edge over the second best hand.
This fact has led to a controversy regarding the value preflop raises generate. Some experts argue that – because of the above said small equity difference between various starting hands – all a preflop raise achieves is to induce bigger swings into the game.
The very reason though that you’ll only have such small edges to exploit as far as hand selection is concerned makes preflop raising reasonable. The variance will be there regardless of what you do, so you might as wel accept the fact that it’s going to be there. Don’t fight it by avoiding preflop raises: make it work for you instead, by minimizing your losses on the downswings and maximizing your winnings on the hands that you do have a nice edge on.
The bottom line about PLO starting hand selection is, that you should only play hands which make your decision on the flop as easy as possible. Hands in the top 30 starting hands list are all such hands, and pocket hands in which all four cards are connected are also good hands in this respect: the flop will either hit them dead on in which case you should get down to value betting without any further ado, or miss them completely, making folding a self-explanatory act.
Omaha is said to be the game of the nuts. That means taking anythiong but the nuts past the flop will cost you dearly. Only play premium starting hands, especially when you have several people at your table.