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. While there are many low- and mid-stakes Pot-Limit Omaha games played at home, on the internet, and in UK casinos,
Pot-Limit Omaha tends to be played for fairly high stakes in most offline casinos. However, this article is intended to help beginners learn Pot-Limit Omaha. This is NOT intended for people planning on playing the higher-stakes games.
Pot-Limit Omaha is very different from Hold'em. In Hold'em, people commonly call down with second best hands. This is because people rarely hold the nuts in Hold'em. If someone always folded their made non-nut hands in Texas Hold'em, they would be a guaranteed loser in the long run. One must call or bet with imperfect hands such as top pair or bottom set.
However, frequently calling with fragile holdings is a recipe for disaster in Pot-Limit Omaha. Players often hold the nuts when playing Omaha. Thus, a dream for any Omaha player is to be able to sell their nut hands to players who will call them down with hands that have little chance at improving. If five people see a flop that is Q 10 9, a player with AAQJ rainbow should fold their hand to a strong bet. There's little to no chance their aces are the best hand or will hold even if they were the best hand. Their chances of hitting the nut straight are slim and is vulnerable to a flush or full house re-draw.
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 player called a huge bet on this board with 23xx, they would be a fool. While this straight would be a strong hand in Hold'em, it would be a very weak hand for this board in Omaha.
Omaha's emphasis on building the nut hand greatly changes starting hand selection. In order to hit the nuts or near nuts, you need hands that coordinate well with themselves. When the board comes, you want to be able to build the nuts in multiple ways. You want to be able to build nut straights, nut flushes, and big full houses. This way, even if say your straight is now vulnerable to a flush, you might also have a full house draw. You do not want hands that will be vulnerable to becoming the second best hand. If a hand is ill-coordinated, there is a good chance it will hit the flop decently. However, it could easily be outdrawn on further streets, and you will have little chance of redrawing again to the best hand. So when evaluating your preflop Omaha hand, here are some tips:
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.
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.
Because of this, there is little reason to raise preflop out of position. Even if you hold A A J 10, you should still limp in early position. Only in late position should you raise preflop, and you should raise not so much to knock people out but to build a pot. Of course, if you hold a pair of aces in early position and someone has raised behind you, a re-raise may be in order. Only do this if you would be close to all-in after the reraise. Giving away your hand is a recipe for disaster at Omaha. However, the re-raise trick with a pair of aces is a good move to make if you would be close to all-in. You will almost always be a statistical favorite with this move, which is all you can really ask for in a game as crazy as Pot-Limit Omaha.