Texas Hold’em has long reigned supreme as the top poker variation worldwide. It’s still the most popular game you’ll find in live venues and online casinos alike.
However, times are slowly changing, and more and more players are looking for a new poker variation to turn to. As things stand right now, Pot Limit Omaha seems to be leading the way.
PLO offers much more dynamic and exciting gameplay while having many similarities with Texas Hold’em. Thus, it’s a fairly easy game to transition to, at least on the surface.
In reality, there are some significant differences between the two games, and I will try to address the main ones in this article.
If you’re looking to move on from Hold’em and transition to the exciting world of Pot Limit Omaha, keep on reading. We’re bringing you the list of main adjustments you’ll need to make to make that transition as successful as possible.
PLO vs. Hold’em – So Similar, Yet So Different
If you know the basic PLO rules, you probably know that the game plays very similar to Hold’em. The main difference between the two is the number of cards you start with. Instead of two, you get four hole cards.
Also, you always have to use two cards from your hand to make the winning combination.
Pot Limit Omaha, as the name suggests, is also usually played in a pot limit format. This means the maximum size of the bet is limited by the size of the pot. In No Limit Hold'em, you can bet as big as you want, whenever you want.
Other than this, though, the games are quite similar. There are four betting streets, namely preflop, flop, turn, and river. Poker hands’ rankings are also the same ones used in Hold’em. So, on the surface, it seems like a Hold’em player can jump straight into PLO and expect to do well.
The reality is much different. Those extra two cards in the hole change the game in a very significant way. As you go deeper, you'll understand that these are two completely different games that happen to share some similarities.
Figuring Out Your Starting Hand Ranges
The biggest adjustment you'll need to make when transitioning from Hold'em to PLO is coming up with starting hand ranges. In both games, these are extremely important. Knowing what hands to avoid and what hands to go to battle with is fundamental.
People new to PLO often make the mistake of playing too many hands. With four cards in the hole, it can feel like almost every hand is worth seeing the flop with. In reality, it's quite the opposite.
You have to be very cautious about what hands you get involved with in PLO, especially if you're inexperienced.
In a nutshell, you should play fewer speculative hands in PLO and stick to those with good potential to make the nuts. This entails good suited aces, big pocket pairs, and high rundowns that can make the nut straight.
This topic is way too extensive to cover in detail in this article, but keep in mind that you can’t simply apply the knowledge from Hold’em to PLO. There is a learning curve that you’ll need to go through.
Improving Your Postflop Game
Texas Hold’em is largely a preflop game. In most hands, you’ll end up going to the flop against one opponent, and their range will often be well-defined by the preflop action.
Pot Limit Omaha is much more of a postflop game where many hands will go multi-way, and you’ll really need to learn to navigate different flop textures. The approach where you wait for big starting hands and try to pile up as much money as possible into the pot before the flop won’t work in PLO.
If this is something you're not comfortable with, Pot Limit Omaha isn't the game for you.
On the flip side, that’s what makes the game much more interesting than Hold’em. There is more play and more decisions along the way.
This is one of the main reasons why people are turning to PLO. The game isn’t suited for break-even grinders who’ll sit around for hours waiting for the top 5% of hands.
But, this also means that some of the ideas that you might have from Hold’em about things such as c-betting and barreling will require some serious revision. People won’t fold nearly as often to your flop continuation bets in Pot Limit Omaha.
Be Ready for Some Crazy Variance
One final adjustment I want to talk about in this article has nothing to do with the technical aspects of the game. Instead, you’ll need to be mentally prepared for some insane variance that comes with playing PLO.
With more people seeing flops and hand equities, in general, running much closer, the game can be quite brutal at times.
Before you even play the first hand of PLO, you should be ready for some big swings. Winning or losing 30 or 40 buy-ins is nothing uncommon in this game. It will happen quite frequently, and when you find yourself on the losing end, it’s not a nice feeling.
There is really no way around it, though. Even if you’re a good player, bad downswings will happen. It’s just the nature of the beast.
What you can do to prepare for this is improve your bankroll management. Take a more conservative approach during the transitioning phase instead of trying to play as high as theoretically possible. There is always time to move up, but it’s much harder to recover after you bust your entire bankroll.
Are You Ready to Take On Pot Limit Omaha?
PLO is a great and exciting game, and it’s probably the best choice if you’ve grown tired of Texas Hold’em. It is hugely popular with the players, so you’ll never struggle to find action regardless of the stakes, especially online.
If you want to give it a try, take these tips to heart and don't rush things. Give yourself enough time to ease into it. And, if you haven't played in a while, make sure to give PLO rules a fresh read to avoid any costly mistakes along the way.