November 07, 2008

Welcome to PLO

BIG poker playerPot-Limit Omaha is a unique game. It is one of the few poker games that is much more widely played in Europe than in North America. Pot-Limit Omaha also is a game that tends to have huge swings. Even a poor player can be lucky one night and win almost all of the chips at the table in a game of Pot-Limit Omaha. It is also one of the few games that tends to be associated with higher stakes.

Pot-Limit Omaha centers on two things: building the nut hand, and position. The first point is obvious. The hands are strong in Pot-Limit Omaha, so you want to be able to hold the best hand. Most Pot-Limit Omaha games do not go to a showdown. When they do, more than likely one player has the nuts or was drawing to the nuts. When two players have strong made hands against each other, generally one has the nut hand or second-nut and the other player also has a near nut hand. An example would be a board with AQ554. One player could have AAxx and the other player might have QQxx. If a poker player called a huge bet on this board with 23xx, they would be a fool. While this straight would be a strong hand in Texas Hold'em, it would be a very weak hand for this board in Omaha.

Another central concept to Pot-Limit Omaha is position. Omaha is all about position. There are several reasons for this. First, free cards are death in Omaha. If you are in early position, you will almost always have to bet your hand, even if you hold the nuts. For example, if the board is 567 and you hold 899A, you definitely have to bet. Someone could too easily draw to a full house, flush, or perhaps even a higher straight. Because of this, people in early positions tend to give away their hands. People in late position can much more easily bluff at pots because they can be fairly certain that people in early posiitons do not have a hand, and people in late position can sometimes earn themselves extremely valuable free cards.

The following are some poker tips when evaluating preflop in Omaha:

• High pocket pairs are good. This is because they have the chance at building a big full house. If you do not hit a set with a big pair, the pair is essentially worthless.

• Connecting cards are helpful. A hand like JT98 is a very good Pot-Limit Omaha hand because it affords the player with so many straight opportunities. Holding JT98 is far superior to holding QJ56 because you can build many multi-way straight possibilities with JT98. However, you cannot with QJ56.

• Suited cards should be treated with caution. One can call and draw to an ace high flush. However, drawing to any non-nut flush can be very foolish. Having non-ace high suited cards is only helpful for redraws, multiple draws (i.e. also having a straight draw), or back-door flush draws. One should never draw to just a flush that is not a nut flush.

• Low and mid pocket pairs are close to worthless. A hand like 5588 belongs in the muck. Even if you hit a set, you can easily lose to a higher set, straight, or flush.

P.S. Kobe was definitely playing Speed Hold'em in the photo.

1 comment:

The Muse said...

A ha...LOL I may have to actually implement this on Friday game night...fingers crossed!