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Differences between NLHE & PLO

If you like to play casino games, then odds are you are familiar with hold’em poker, there are many different varieties of hold’em poker that you can play. One of the most exciting games is Pot-Limit-Omaha. If you are interested in learning more about Pot-Limit Omaha, you are probably already a Texas Hold'em Poker player. This is the normal progression. If you have never played poker before it is ok too, but it will be harder to start with Omaha.

Here we discuss Texas Hold'em versus Omaha High, primarily no-limit texas holdem versus pot-limit omaha, as these are the most common variations, but most of what comes next is also true in fixed-limit of pot-limit.

As a new Omaha High player, you need to pay particular attention to these differences in Omaha strategy.

Important differences between NLHE & PLO

  1. The nuts: Omaha is often referred as the poker game of the nuts. Unlike Texas Hold'em, it is frequent that one of the players has the nuts hand, such as the nuts flush on an unpaired board with three cards of the same suit, or the top full house on a paired board. Quads or straight flushes occur, but rarely and you should not be worried about them, if you lose your stack because of them, this is just bad luck. But the point here is that if you see a raise or a reraise by the river and you do not have the nuts, you are probably behind.

  2. Looser game: Pot-Limit Omaha is a looser game than Texas Hold'em, in particular pre flop. The reason for that is a question of odds. In holdem, there are situations where you can be a 4:1 underdog, such as when you play 77 versus QQ. The lower pair is dominated and the best chance to prevail is to get another 7 on the board, so there are just 2 main outs. Such scenario does not exist in Omaha, because two cards have to be chosen among 4, so that no hand can be dominated so decisively. For example AAKK double suited is a 69% favorite versus J974 rainbow, the best hand versus one of the worse hand.

  3. More variance: You will have more up and down swings in PLO. If you play deep stacked like 100BB, it is rather frequent to get all in. If two players have strong hands or if more than two players are involved, a few pot bets lead to getting all your chips in the middle, and obviously this lead to a large variance. PLO variance is larger than NLHE variance, because big hands occur more frequently in Omaha. A typical example is a set versus a draw or multiple draws, and neither hand should fold in Omaha High.

  4. Less bluffing: There is some bluffing in PLO, but less than in Texas Hold'em. As was said earlier, large pots tend to occur often, draws are numerous and players should not fold easily with many outs. This makes successful bluffs harder to achieve. Of course you should still attempt to bluff, but this is a difficult art to master only possible with a great understanding of board structure and opponents' tendencies.

  5. More draws: Omaha High is a game of the draws. Because they appear more frequently and you may have multiple draws with plenty of outs. For example a strong hand is JT98 double suited. Let's say that the board is A67, giving you a flush draw. You are drawing to the nuts straight that you get with a 5, an 8, a 9 or a T, 16 outs, 4 of which give you the flush also. Ideally you want to draw to the nuts, and even if you have the nuts, you want to draw to a higher nuts. For instance if a 5 comes at the turn without completing the flush, you have the nuts and you are also drawing to a higher nuts. If another player has 5433 and an 8 comes by the river, you beat him to a higher straight.

  6. Backdoor hands: They are more prevalent in pot-limit Omaha. In Texas Holdem it is considered to give a bad beat when you hit a runner-runner flush to beat a stronger hand. In Omaha High because there are 4 hole cards and let us say that you flop a set plus a backdoor flush draw with the last two cards, this is like a bonus increasing odds in your favor as these cards are not active yet. In Holdem as you only have two hole cards, backdoors can only happen from the cards that already make your hand, limiting the possibilities.

It is easy to make the move from Texas Holdem to Omaha, but make sure to understand and practice these key differences. You can play PLO at your casino, online poker room and even from your phone with mobile poker.

For PLO, Full Tilt Poker is the recommended room as this is where you will find the most choice of Omaha games. Visit Full Tilt now.

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