Over the years, flocks of expats head over to Cambodia to make a living playing poker. Compared with the UK and US poker rooms, the country’s illegal gambling dens are more enticing to Westerners because the Cambodians are not as competitive as their counterparts in their home country.
Another reason expats love being in Cambodia is the wide variety of poker games they can play here. Those who want to make a living by playing poker should be very well-versed in the Pot Limit Omaha, a popular variety of poker in the Kingdom.
Often called Omaha, this game is an action-filled poker game that shares some similarities with Texas Hold’em. But unlike Texas Hold’em that has a no limit betting structure, Omaha is famous for its pot-limit.
The main difference of the two poker variants is that PLO deals each player with four hole cards instead of just two. The players, however, do not use all of the four hole cards as their hand. They can only choose two. Players must only use two of their hole cards plus the three community cards to complete their poker hand.
For instance, a player holds the strong four hole cards of Ace of Hearts, King of Clubs, Queen of Spade, and Jack of Clubs and the community cards dealt include King of Hearts, 10 Hearts, 6 Spade, 3 Hearts and 2 Hearts, the player does not get to win a flush even though he has the Ace of Hearts. Broadway straight is also not considered. The player’s hand is actually a pair of Kings with an Ace-Kicker. It can be quite confusing at first, but when you get the hang of it, the game can be really easy to understand.
Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha have various similarities. First, both are flop games with four streets of betting and regular initial stacks. They are also both big bet games. Whilst PLO comes with pot-limit restriction, bets can also increase significantly. Third, both Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha use at least two hole cards at showdown.
Still, they have massive differences that are particularly important at showdown. Aside from having four hole cards, PLO has few other differences with Texas Hold’em. One notable difference is the pre-flop hands. In Pot Limit Omaha, the pre-flop hands have closer equity than in Texas Hold’em. An Ace Heart and Ace Spade pair has an 82.36% advantage than King of Hearts and King of Spade before showing the flop. In Omaha, the hand composed of Ace Spade, Ace Heart, 7 Diamond, and 6 Diamond has a 59.84% advantage over King of Hearts, King of Spade, Queen of Hearts, and Jack of Spade.
The closer pre-flop hand strength is one of the factors why more poker players are shifting to Omaha and playing more hands. This preflop equity translates to bigger pots as most of the chips often go into play after the flop is shown.
Another difference is that Pot Limit Omaha poker players need to have a stronger hand during showdown to win. Hold’em games allow players to win even if they are just holding a single pair or a two pair. In PLO, these hands are often not the best hand when the river is dealt.
Both of the poker game variants have different betting structures. In No Limit Hold’em, poker players can choose to bet any amount they like or even their entire chip stack. Pot Limit Omaha, as its name suggests, has a “pot limit.” Players can only raise the bet to the total size of the pot including their call.
Take this, a Pot Limit Omaha hand has two players left. The total pot is $100, also the maximum bet the first player can make. The second player can wager a maximum of $400 – the initial pot of $100, first player’s bet of $100, the second player’s call to the first bet of $100, plus the second player’s bet of $100.
Playing this on live poker may be quite difficult but those who play online would not have any trouble as they simply have to click on the “Pot” button and the software will input the correct amount of bet. For live poker, some players simply say “pot” before placing the bet and the dealer would often assist in calculating the correct amount.
For beginners, Pot Limit Omaha is one of the most complicated poker variants to play. Since it is a complex game to play, a perfect strategy may be a bit challenging. Still, players can benefit from these pointers to eventually come up with a successful Pot Limit Omaha strategy.
Professional players of Pot Limit Omaha have played the game one too many times that they already know when to stick to the rules and when to break them, when to gamble hard, and when to trust their instincts. For beginners, it might be good to not just rely on their “gut feel.” They should have a game plan and effectively execute it to win. Until you have won thousands of Pot Limit Omaha poker hands, it is best to stay out of trouble and stick to the basics.
Here are some worthwhile pointers to help you get through your shift to Pot Limit Omaha:
Stay patient with the four hole cards. You should not be overconfident. Remember that not all four hole cards will give you a win. Do not make the mistake of thinking that any of your four cards is worth a bet.
A pair of Aces is NOT ALWAYS a good starting hand. Remember that Pot Limit Omaha is different from Texas Hold’em. Having an ace pair will not guarantee a win, as they rarely win a showdown. Although this can help create a strong pre-flop, not improving it on the flop will not give you a winning hand. Don’t get too excited about the idea that you have a high-valued pair. It is not good if you insist on committing to Aces, particularly in pre-flop. If you have Aces in your four hole cards, they have to be the best Aces, meaning they have to be accompanied by other highly valued cards and suits.
Limit the bluff. Unlike Texas Hold’em where players can win with a bluff, Pot Limit Omaha players often place more importance in having a strong hand. Although some players do bluff, it is rare. So unless you really have a strong hand, do not call or raise.
Start playing like a Pot Limit Omaha player. Most of the PLO players are initially No Limit Hold’em player that they have the tendency to bring in the Hold’em player thinking into the table. Beginners mistakenly give high importance to their one-pair or two-pair hands and open-ended straight draws, which should not be the case. They should note, however, that PLO poker often have “wrap” draws that come with up to 20 outs with the perfect combination of hole and community cards.
Have full control of your emotions. A game of Pot Limit Omaha can have a wide range of variance, making it frustrating to some newbie and even experienced players. In order to win, players must be able to take full control of their emotions so they can also have full control of their decision making. Players easily ticked off may not find Pot Limit Omaha the best game for them.
Only bet the amount you can afford to lose. Whilst Pot Limit Omaha has a “pot limit,” the game can get pretty aggressive. It can be easy to lose yourself in the game. Only play within your bankroll. Don’t go chasing bigger games because they look enticing unless it is okay for you to go broke. It is best to stay in control of your finances.
Draw to the nuts. There would be instances where players can go on with a weaker draw, the best course of action is to always draw to the nuts. Whilst the nuts rarely occur, it is relevant.
Similar with other poker variants, having a strong starting hand is the way to successfully win in Pot Limit Omaha. Whilst many of the most experienced PLO players can successfully play using a wide range of starting hands, it would be better for beginners to play with stronger and easier hands.
In Pot Limit Omaha, the best starting hands are the ones that have big pairs and some sort of connectivity, allowing them to improve before the flop. The best ones are known to be the “double suited hand,” which gives the players a chance to attain a flop with two different flush draws. For example, Ace of Spade, Ace of Diamond, 7 Spade, and 6 Diamond. It has a high-valued pair and two different suits.