Pot Limit Omaha
By Mike Farnham
Omaha is the second most popular poker game being played today. The version of the game that we will be playing is called Pot Limit Omaha, more commonly called PLO.
In PLO blinds are posted the same way as in Hold'em. Each player is dealt four (4) hole cards, instead of the two (2) they receive in Hold'em. The order of betting is the same as in hold'em, what differs is the amount a player can bet. In No Limit Hold'em a player may bet all his chips at any time, regardless of the amount that is in the pot. In PLO, the maximum amount that a player may bet is determined by the amount that is in the pot. This is covered later in greater detail. The ‘Flop’, ‘Turn’ and ‘River’, each followed by a betting round, are done exactly the same as in Hold'em Player’s then turn over their cards and determine their ‘best’ hand.
This is where the primary difference between Omaha and Hold'em lays. In Hold'em, players may play 2,1, or 0 of their hole cards combined with 3, 4, or 5 cards, respectively, from the board. So out of all 7 cards, the ‘best’ five cards now constitute that player’s hand. In some cases the 5 community cards will form the best hand so the player doesn’t use either of his hole cards, this is called playing the board. At the end of a hand of Omaha there will be 9 cards, 4 hole cards and 5 community cards. When determining their hand a player must use 2 of their hole cards and 3 of the community cards. This means a player will never “play the board”. This is the part of the game that is the most confusing to players that are used to Hold'em.
Here are a couple of examples:
Since there are so many more possibilities in Omaha than in Hold'em it is difficult to decide on what hole cards constitute a good starting hand. A good suggestion for new players is if you can’t find at least 2 good starting hold'em hands in your 4 hole cards, fold. Also note that until the blinds have increased to at least 100/200 there are very few hands that are worth raising pre flop in Omaha. The best starting hand in Omaha is A, A, K, Q double suited, meaning the AK is of one suit, while the other A and Q are of the same suite.
Calculating the pot in PLO
Many players are perfectly content to let the dealer track the pot. However, there are those that want to be able to calculate it for themselves. If you are one of those than this section is for you. In PLO the maximum that a player may bet is whatever is in the pot. This is very simple but does take a little practice to be able to calculate quickly and accurately. The most common mistake made when calculating the maximum bet is forgetting that the raiser first ‘calls’ the bet, and then raises the amount that is now in the pot, which includes their call. Until you are completely comfortable with pot limit, I recommend announcing “Raise Pot”’ then putting out the amount of the call, followed by a raise in the amount of the pot, which is now your call plus whatever else is in the pot. The fastest way to calculate this is; 3 times the previous bet plus whatever is already in the pot. This is the ‘Total’ amount of the allowed bet, call plus the raise. Keep in mind that the “previous bet’ that you are multiplying by does not also get added in.
Here are some examples:
With a bit of practice you’ll be able to calculate the pot as fast, maybe even faster, than the dealer will. Just remember that the when a player bets ‘pot’ the total amount that they will be betting is ALWAYS 3x the immediately preceding bet, plus whatever is already in the pot. Have fun and see you at the game.
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