Pot Limit Omaha Cash Game Strategy
Tips for Playing Omaha PL Cash Games
Many players who first start playing poker get started in the “Cadillac of Poker,” otherwise known as Texas Hold’em. But players for various reasons will start to look elsewhere for different games to try. Sometimes this is due to them beating the stakes they are at, maybe they just do not “get” the game they are playing and are not very good, or they are just bored and need something fresh and exciting.
Well, Pot Limit Omaha is definitely something new and fresh and is the most common game that players turn to after playing Hold’em. PLO, as it is commonly referred to, is an exciting game where players are dealt 4 cards instead of 2 and is similar to Texas Hold’em in the format that it is played with a flop, turn, and river with betting to follow each round. Players are required to use 2 of their cards when making a hand.
While receiving 4 cards instead of 2 may sound great, it actually presents a few issues mostly in beginners. Many players have a difficult time with starting hand selection which of course only leads to bigger problems on the flop from a lack of analyzing flop texture and over/undervaluing hands. To make the transition from the game you are playing now to Omaha as smooth as possible, here are a few strategies that should be integrated into your game as soon as possible.
Omaha Strategy 101
Starting Hands: This is where a majority of players go wrong. The idea of a starting hand is to make the decisions on later streets as easy as possible. Hands like As-Ad-8h-5c may look good with a pair of Aces, but what players will notice immediately is that a pair is hardly any good on the flop. And furthermore, even if it the hand was good it would be too scary to get any value out of it on straight or flush heavy boards.
What players need to aim for in starting hands are cards that will give them a combination of hands on the flop. For example, Ad-Kd-Ah-Kh is the best hand in Omaha as it is double suited (2 cards both of the same suit); there are 2 pairs, and 2 high cards which can lead to nut flushes and straights. The next 4 best starting hands are A-A-J-10, A-A-Q-Q, A-A-J-J, and A-A-10-10 with double suited being the most valuable.
Another thing that is important to know when choosing a starting hand is the fact that having more than 2 of one suit or more than 2 of any one card is not very good. For example, A-A-A-A or Ad-Kd-4d-2d would be bad because you can only use 2 of the cards in you hand which means that the other cards could have been outs. Since they are in your hand and not in the deck, your chances of hitting three of a kind, quads, or a flush have diminished significantly.
Lastly, it is recommended to avoid playing hands that have low cards in it to try to catch the low pot in Omaha Hi/Lo. Many times, these types of hands will not earn you the “Hi” hand which means that at best, you will earn the low hand. The real kicker here is that it is possible to split the Hi or Lo hand which means that if in a multi way pot it is possible to only get a fraction of your investment back which means a negative proposition in the long run.
Flop Texture: Although most hands look good before the flop that can change drastically on the flop. For example, if you have a hand such as Ad-Ah-10d-10h and the flop is 8c-9c-5c, then it is possible that you are beat with very little opportunity to improve.
That is an exaggerated example, but the bottom line is that many players become to “invested” in the hand they are holding with little regard as to what is on the board. Even with the best hand before the flop and on the flop, that can change immediately with the turn card leaving you way behind.
It is important to “analyze” the flop to see what hands can currently beat you. From there you will want to determine where your hand stands in relation to those hands to decide whether to move forward to the turn or not. Also, be sure to do this on each street, as both the turn and the river can be a card that opens up new hand possibilities or draws.
Over/Undervaluing Hands: This is another common mistake by newer players. Many players will see a draw on the board or maybe they caught a small straight or flush and then step on the gas and push, push, push. While betting heavily with made hands is an ideal way of doing things in PLO, it is simply too easy to be dominated with a better hand. Using our tips above should help avoid some of this, but it is still important to evaluate your hand in relation to the “best possible hand” that could be made and bet accordingly. Just because you have 4c-4h-5c-5d with a board of 6c-7d-8h does not mean you automatically win the hand. Chances are you are beat with a higher straight. This will not be the case every time, but it is still something to be considered.
On the other hand, when you have made a strong hand that is not the nuts, betting the pot would ideal. The reasoning behind this is so that players will be discouraged from trying to out draw you. Of course, many players still try, but not much you can do about that aside from getting your money in when it counts.
This also brings up the topic of slow-playing hands. To be quite honest, unless you have the nuts or really close to it, slow playing can really be a bad idea. Most times often then not, just way too many draws or hands can possibly beat you. If you decide to slow play a hand, be sure to analyze the board and your hand and try to slow play on the driest boards possible.
Omaha Ring Game Tips and Strategies
Omaha, like any other poker game, has its ups-and-downs and can either be a fun game to play or a nightmare. An easy way to avoid the nightmare is to choose the right starting hands, have an understanding of how to analyze the flop, and how to correctly value your hands in relation to what other hands could be made. Once a player has a firm grasp on these concepts, they will then be ready to go fishin’ in one of the many heavy populated Omaha Poker ponds.