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Pot Limit Omaha Strategy: Get Hold'em Out Your Head

Texas Hold'em is a fun, fast game, but once you play enough of it, you may get a hankering to play another version of poker. Pot Limit Omaha, also called Omaha High Only or just Omaha, is one of your other options and a lot of active Hold'em players end up giving this game a try.

The striking similarities between Omaha and Hold'em, for instance the mutual reliance on the flop, seem to make this transition an easy one.

For many Hold'em fans, though, the venture to the land of Pot Limit Omaha is a short one. Sometimes this is because of the slower play of Omaha (booooring). But sometimes Hold'em players don't make it in Omaha because they don't realize they're not playing Hold'em anymore!

Or they realize that abstractly, but don't realize the full extent of what that means. Namely that learning to win at Pot Limit Omaha involves de-programming parts of the Hold'em brain.

Two Pair Is Not Good Enough

The first problem that many Hold'em heroes run into when they get to the Omaha table is that they overestimate the value of two pair. In Hold'em, two pair, especially if it's a big pair, is a strong hand and one that you would usually bet with considerable aggression.

In Omaha, by contrast, you need to be circumspect in your approach to two pair hands because PLO is a game of drawing to the nuts--and two pair, in this game, ain't usually the nuts.

Even if you receive two pair in the hole, say you get 10s and 9s, you must not assume that this pot is yours, for it is most definitely not. If you hit nothing on the flop and there are straight and flush possibilities now on the board, someone may already have you beat with a straight or flush.

It happens every day.

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Boring Is the New Good

Most Texas Hold'em players like action, that's why they play Hold'em so much.

In Omaha, however, you may literally sit there for an hour and not get one hand you should play all the way to the showdown. In Omaha, you have to be prepared to wait for premium hands and not play marginal hands. Fold after fold after fold, and sure enough, boredom starts to set in.

When you're used to Hold'em, you're not used to that boredom, the sheer tedium of waiting for a premium hand and then not getting one for more than an hour.

Boredom can make people do stupid things. That's a fact.

It's a fact, in fact, that often results in a Hold'em player losing his or her entire stack in a game of Pot Limit Omaha.

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Every Hand Has the Potential to End Your Night

Another thing to remember, and another thing that surprises Hold'em players when they move to an Omaha table, is that in Omaha High, many hands end in an all in proposition.

Especially if you're used to Limit Hold'em, the prospect of losing everything right now can make you clam up in the showdown, when really you should be putting in that last bet because you are getting the right price for your draw relative to the money that's in the pot.

Omaha High Only is a game of drawing to the nuts, and so that is what you will find your Omaha opponents doing: drawing to the nuts or damn close to it.

When, then, one of your opponents hits that nut draw, it is to be expected that this player will be extremely aggressive in moving all their chips to the center of the table and demanding that you do the same if you want to continue to play this hand.

Many "small ball" Limit Hold'em players don't find this all in dynamic all that attractive. And that's fine. There is no accounting for taste and each to his own and all that good stuff.

Still the fact remains and you must remain aware of it: taking a hand all the way to the river and failing to prepare to go all in is the same as preparing to fail in Pot Limit Omaha.

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