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Pot-Limit Omaha Strategy | How to Play Draws in PLO Poker

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Bored of playing Texas Hold’em all the time? Pot-Limit Omaha may be the game for you.

If you know Hold’em, PLO will likely be very easy for you to pick up. It's still very hard to master, though.

PLO is essentially Hold’em played with four cards instead of two. The betting rounds and hand rankings are exactly the same as Hold’em.

It tends to play like a more action-packed version of Hold’em so if you’re looking for something new then you should jump on board PLO.

There are four key differences between PLO and Hold’em:

1. You get four hole cards in PLO

2. You must use EXACTLY two cards from your hole cards to make up your final hand (you can’t use four cards on the board and one from your hand)

3. Omaha is always played with a fixed limit so everyone doesn’t go all-in every hand.

4. You’ll see big hands more often (because everyone gets more cards)

If you can remember those four basic facets of the game then you’ll be ahead of a large percentage of people who are just learning PLO

What’s a Good Starting Hand in PLO?

This is one other area that’s obviously different than Hold’em since you get four cards. Let’s get this out of the way immediately:

A-A-A-A is not the best hand. In fact it’s a terrible hand since it can’t really improve.

Instead PLO is focused more on drawing hands with strong pairs. The best hand in PLO is actually A-A-K-K double-suited because of the high pocket pairs AND drawing ability.

Unfortunately, your chances of drawing it are extremely rare. Any A-A plus a high-pair is very strong as well as hands like A-A-J-T. Always be thinking of your drawing potential.

Here’s a look at the top 10 starting hands in PLO (all double suited of course) but keep in mind the starting hands aren’t near as rigid as NLHE.

  • A-A-K-K
  • A-A-J-T
  • A-A-Q-Q
  • A-A-J-J
  • A-A-T-T
  • A-A-9-9
  • A-A-x-x
  • J-T-9-8
  • K-K-Q-Q
  • K-K-J-J

The Importance of Draws

While Texas Hold'em can be found in fixed-limit, pot-limit and no-limit varieties, Omaha is rarely played using a no-limit structure.

This is because draws are so powerful in Omaha. It would be correct strategy to move all-in before the flop much too often, resulting in very little poker to be played.

Instead, Omaha is played using either a fixed-limit or pot-limit structure, and it's important to know what you are in for when moving from the fixed-limit to the pot-limit variety of the game.

Draws vs. Made Hands in Fixed-Limit Omaha

In basic Limit Omaha, it is almost always correct to bet if you are drawing to the nuts. The pots often get very large relative to the cost of a bet, so pot odds are high.

The converse of this is that it may not be correct to bet if you have already made your hand, assuming you cannot improve. For example, perhaps you have 3 3 T T and the flop comes 3 A A.

You probably have the best hand now. However, those other two aces are likely to be in the hands of your opponents, and they are unlikely to fold for a single bet.

That means if any card comes that matches any of the other three cards in either of those hands, then you will lose. It may not be worthwhile to put in a bet here and you may even want to consider folding when facing a bet.

Draws vs. Made Hands in Pot-Limit Omaha

In Pot-Limit Omaha the situation is very different. If you can make a pot-sized bet here, it may be possible to get the field down to just you and one of the other aces.

If one of the aces bets in front of you and you double the pot, or if you bet the pot and one of the aces comes over you, the other ace may assume that someone already has A3 (unlikely since you hold two of them, but he doesn't know that) and fold, making you the favorite in the hand.

Alternatively, if someone makes a pot-sized bet and is called or raised before you have a chance to act, you may choose to fold since both aces may now be committed.

Pot-Limit Omaha is a tricky game that can get expensive for the inexperienced. Start your transition to this game by playing low blinds, and then move up as you become accustomed to the structure and the nuances of this variation.