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PLO Action

Poker Action Game

Pot Limit Omaha

PLO - The Action Game

by Jesse Knight
Omaha Action

Pot Limit Omaha Game

Pot Limit OmahaIn the late 1980’s and early 1990’s Texas Hold'em took the poker world by storm. Prior to this, although Hold’em had been around for a long time, it did not dominate the poker world as it does today. Back then, where you lived usually determined what style of poker game you played. Different games were popular in different regions of the country. Seven Card Stud was the main game in the Northeast, Omaha was popular in the South, Deuce to Seven Lowball was a Midwest game, and Hi-Lo Stud and Ace to Five Lowball were popular in the West. While there is still some regional preference for some of these games, there is much more crossover today, and for the most part, Hold’em reigns as the undisputed king of poker games nationwide.

Casinos loved Hold’em and promoted it, largely because of the speed of the game. A faster game means more hands dealt per hour, which translates into more rake for the house. Flop games are typically much faster than stud or draw games, because community cards are used. That means fewer cards need to be dealt. Because Hold’em is a high only game, with only two hole cards in use, it is by far the fastest of all the flop games.

Certainly, the speed of the game was what made Hold’em so popular with the house. Players loved Hold’em because of the action. It was fast and furious, and compared to the other games being spread at the time, the pots were big for the size of the stakes. One reason for this is that Hold’em is by its nature, a game with a lot of action. It is a game of small edges and value bets, where players get pot committed quite easily. Another reason the game played so big back then is that it was relatively new to most players, and a majority were not very sophisticated. Game theory relating to Hold’em was in its infancy, and there were only a few books available on the subject. Good strategy advice was limited and hard to come by, and unlike today, there were only a few players in the world who played the game at a top level.

In the early 1990’s poker went online. At this time, Hold’em was the dominant game spread in casinos nationwide. It quickly became the top game on the internet as well, in both the cash games and tournaments. Since then, there has been substantial progress made in the area of game theory as it relates to Hold’em. Numerous insightful books have been written. Key concepts, such as implied odds, the float, and fold equity are now household terms. It is still an action game, but less so than it used to be, and the action has gotten tougher. There are a plethora of very skilled players who play both in Brick and Mortar establishments as well as online. It is still relatively easy to beat the low limit games, especially online where the rake is much lower, but the middle and high limits can be filled with tough players. Many players who had a great deal of success playing Hold’em in the early days have seen their profits diminish. There are still plenty of donkeys playing Hold’em, and a decent player can still make good money playing against them. But the bottom line is that the longer a game is popular, the more good players will emerge, which only makes the game tougher.

Luckily there is a game out there which is similar to Hold’em, but is superior in many ways. The game is Pot Limit Omaha (commonly called PLO). The action in PLO can only be described as extreme. In Pot Limit Omaha, players are dealt four hole cards instead of the two dealt in Hold’em, but unlike Hold’em, players are required to use exactly two hole cards and three community cards when forming their hands. In Pot Limit Omaha, everything is bigger than in Hold’em. Because each player has four hole cards, completed hands tend to run stronger. More importantly, the drawing hands in PLO are often huge, and unlike Hold’em, it is not unusual for a draw to be favored over a made hand on the flop. Consider that in a Hold’em game, a straight draw can have a maximum of eight outs, whereas in an Omaha game, a straight draw can have up to twenty outs. One reason the action is so big in PLO is because there are often several strong draws out there, and players know that a strong draw is often favored over a made hand on the flop.

Another reason Pot Limit Omaha plays so big is because of freeroll potential. It is not all that uncommon to make the nuts and also have a redraw to a stronger hand. If you are up against another player who also has the nuts, you can freeroll on them, possibly winning their whole stack. On top of all of this, the game is Pot-Limit, so players may bet up to the amount that is in the pot in a single bet, making it possible for huge pots to develop from a relatively small blind structure.

In the past few years, there has been a surge in the popularity of PLO, especially in the internet poker rooms. Many former Hold’em players are taken in by the extreme action. Traditionally, Pot Limit Omaha had been played as a high only game, while Limit Omaha was more commonly spread as a hi-lo game. This is not the case online. Many internet card rooms have four varieties of Omaha games. They often feature both a strong section of PLO games as well as a strong section of Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo games (often abbreviated “PLO8,” short for PLO eight or better, because eight is the qualifier for the low). They also are likely to spread both Limit Omaha and Limit Omaha High-Low.

Hold’em players will find the transition to Pot Limit Omaha easier than the transition to PLO8, although the action can be just as good in either game. If you are a Hold’em player interested in trying PLO, there are lots of resources available to you. There are several strategy books available which focus exclusively on PLO. There are a great many small and micro buy-in cash games online where you can get into a game for less than five dollars. Then, as you get more comfortable in the game, you can move into the higher limits. There are also a lot of low buy-in tournaments and free poker games where the chips in play cost nothing and have no value. You will need to sign up for an account in order to play in the free games, but you are not required to make any deposit. In addition to this, most sites offer freeroll tournaments, added money tournaments, and other promotions for new players. Many of these sites offer first time deposit bonuses of 100% of your initial deposit or more.

If you are interested in signing up for an account, or even if you just want to watch the games, you can do so at Poker Stars.com.

Also see: Omaha Hi-Low Basics, Transitioning from Holdem to Omaha High and Scooping in Omaha High/Low

PLO Strategy

Articles written by Jesse Knight:
Poker Game Theory
Poker Logic: Game Theory Modeling and Poker
A few in-depth definitions by Jesse Knight:
Angle, Backer, Behind
Big Blind, Floorman, Cards Speak
Value, Variance, Check Raise

Omaha Poker Games

Translations

(c) Shirley Rosario

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