Pot Limit Omaha is one of the most exciting cash games played online at this time. However it does take quite a bit of getting used to if you haven’t played it before. The first major difference is in how many cards you are dealt compared to say hold’em. In Texas hold’em then you are dealt two cards but in Omaha you are dealt four cards. There is still a three card flop, turn and river as in hold’em but the major difference is that in Omaha you cannot play the board.
This means that you have to play two cards out of the four from your hand and three from the board. However the mere fact that you have four cards and not two has a significant impact on the average hand strength that is required to take pots down. In hold’em then you only have one hand combination. That increases six fold in Omaha because you have A-B, A-C, A-D, B-C, B-D and C-D. The ramifications of that are obvious and position is even more important in Omaha than it is in hold’em.
If you play a hand out of position in no limit Texas hold’em like under the gun for example then in a ten handed game then there are only nine other hand combinations to speak after you. However in Omaha that number multiplies to fifty four combinations. While many players struggle with identifying what is a good hand and what isn’t a good hand in Omaha, it is important to know what types of hands play well.
Essentially in hold’em then two pair can be a very strong hand most of the time and a hand that will win a lot of pots. In fact even top pair can win much of the time in no limit Texas hold’em. Fewer players see the flop in hold’em and so this means that the average winning hand is much lower than in Omaha. So the fact that each hand has six times the number of combinations plus the fact that there are more players seeing the flop means that the nuts is often out there in Omaha.
Consider this important fact of online poker for a minute. Imagine that in your usual no limit Texas hold’em ring game that 25% of players see the flop. This means that the total number of hand combinations seeing the flop would be 2.5. But in Omaha then hand values run very close to one another and so it would be common to see 50% of players seeing the flop in a full ring Omaha game. So this means no less than 30 hand combinations that are seeing the flop compared to the 2.5 in hold’em which is a twelve fold increase.
Needless to say that you need to be far more selective with bluffing in Pot Limit Omaha because it is simply far easier for your opponents to call you! While it is certainly possible to bluff in Omaha, your primary objective is to select solid starting hands that can not only make the nuts but make the nuts while having redraws to higher hands. So a hand like As-Qs-Jh-10d would be a great hand on say a Ks-Qd-10s board because you have the nut straight plus the draw to the nut flush and a full house draw with the Q-10.
Carl Sampson is a professional poker player that plays online at 888poker