The game of Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) or Omaha Hi is strikingly similar to Texas Hold’em. In fact the full title for Omaha is “Omaha Hold’em Poker”. However, there are enough differences between the two to warrant a special category all of its own.
In both Omaha and Hold'em variations there are hole cards, a three-card flop, a turn card, a river card and also four rounds of betting in each.
So just what are the major differences between the two forms of poker? Let's take a look:
In PLO drawing hands (hands that can make straights and flushes) can be flop favourites over made hands (like pairs and two pair hands). This is very rarely the case in Hold’em and confirms the fact that Omaha is much more of a drawing game than Hold’em.
Starting Hand Combinations
Perhaps the biggest difference between the two games is the total number of pre-flop hand combinations. In Omaha each starting hand has four cards and this has a huge impact on the total number of hand combinations. In Hold’em there is only one hand combination. If we assign letters to each starting card, it is easy to see this major difference.
Hold'em Starting Hand: Jd (A), 10s (B)
Hold'em Hand combination = A+B = 1 combination
Omaha Starting Hand: Jh (A), 10c (B), 9h (C), 8c (D)
Omaha Hand Combinations = A+B, A+C, A+D, B+C, B+D, C+D = 6 combinations
If both hands saw a flop of Jc-10h-7h, both hands would have two pair; but the PLO hand can make a straight with an 8 or 9 or a flush with a heart. It is the much stronger hand and could easily outdraw the Hold'em hand, because of the two extra starting cards and five additional hand combinations.
With so many opportunities and ways to make hands, executing successful bluffs in Omaha is harder and less prevalent than in Hold’em. In games like No Limit Texas Hold'em, players connect less with the board and with the no limit betting structure, it's easer to execute bluffs
Position is important in Hold’em, but it is of even more importance in Omaha. You simply cannot afford to be out of position with weak or mediocre drawing hands. (By “out of position” we mean, under-the-gun or in seats closest to the blinds.)
Playing hands “in position”, or when closest to the button, are the most profitable scenario. Just as in Hold'em these positions allow you to play draws and control the pot. However, in PLO, it gives you the added ability of truly maximising the amount you can make with your big draws.