No Limit Holdem vs Pot Limit Omaha

Many players make the transition from No Limit Hold’em (NLH) games to Pot Limit Omaha (PLO), as the games are getting tougher a lot of players think it makes sense to try their luck at Omaha games instead, since there are not as many players that have it figured out as much as Hold’em.

Hand strength to make the best hand is very different

One of the major differences between NLH and PLO is that in Omaha you typically need a much stronger hand in order to win at showdown. The reason for this is simple. In Omaha, each player is dealt four cards instead of two, so there are more hand combinations in play to make the best hand.

When playing PLO, two pair which is a very strong hand in NLH, is usually a bluff catcher, although obviously it depends on the board texture and your opponents. For the same reason, low flushes are no way near as strong in PLO.

Tight players in PLO are “nut peddling”, so even when you make a low flush, you have to be worried that a tight player has a better flush. In Hold’em, you’d be excited about hitting a Ten high flush on an unpaired board, but in Omaha with their being more hand combos, you can’t be as confident about having the best hand, and if you get raised, you should probably let go of your hand.

So as you can see, what is deemed “nutted hands” in PLO is a much narrower range of hands, and you need to be capable of making disciplined folds if your opponents are betting aggressively and you don’t have the nuts.

Being in position is even more important in PLO

Being in position in PLO is even more important than in NLH. Having position allows you to pretty much play your hand perfectly. For example, if you have a low flush which you are unsure is the best hand, you can decide to flat call a turn bet with the intention of folding to further action on the river, or if it is checked to you on the turn, you can choose to check it back for some pot control. If another card of the same suit doesn’t hit on the river, and your opponent checks again, then you can consider betting the river to get value from sets and two pair hands which shut down after the flush got there.

Let’s say you have K-K-x-x under the gun. You’ll find yourself in difficult situations when you have three other callers who can potentially raise your continuation bet and you fail to improve on the flop. When you get to play hands in late position you have a lot better control over the size of the pot. If another player bets into you, you can choose to take a pot control line with decent draws or come over the top with your strong hand for protection.

So as you can see, position in the hand allows you to limit your losses when you have the second best hand as well as maximize your winnings when you can be confident you have the winning hand. For the most part, you can expect to extract an additional half pot sized bet on the river with the exact same holdings, which over the course of a session will add up to a significant part of your income.

Bigger Swings

Omaha has more variance than a typical No Limit Hold’em game. Generally you can expect to play larger pots as players are getting the right odds to come along with their drawing hands sometimes even committing entire stacks without a made hand. The most exciting thing about playing PLO is that you can flop wrap draws where you can have as many as 20 outs to make a straight and the winning hand.

Hence, the swingy nature of the game. If you have a session where you are not hitting your draws it can be quite brutal, but if you are winning those key pots you can win quite a significant amount of money.

Wrap hands can be a bit tricky to play when you first start playing PLO since it may not be obvious exactly which outs will give you the best hand and which of those outs will help your opponent. Over time this will become second nature as you play more Omaha hands and learn to read the board texture and how it can increase/decrease those odds.

When all is said and done, Pot Limit Omaha is a game of increased variance. The swings can be much more severe than No Limit Hold’em since the difference in post-flop equities when stacks go in the middle are going to be much closer.