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What are Pot Limit Omaha best starting hands?

Like in Texas Hold'em Poker, and many new PLO players already know NLHE so this is going to be an obvious concept to you if you already play some online poker, mastering starting hands is the first step for mastering the game.

In fact in Pot Limit Omaha, it is even more important to play the correct starting hands than it is in Texas Hold'em, for a number of reasons:

  • More flops seen: as PLO is looser than NLHE, it is easy to get sloppy and to play the wrong hands as many players do,
  • PLO is not yet well documented: unlike Texas Holdem poker where the concept of starting hands is explained in great details in many books starting with the ones by David Sklansky, Omaha starting hand requirements are not well understood,
  • Understanding PLO: the subtleties of Pot-Limit Omaha are best understood with starting hands; this is a game of draws and this begins pre flop.

There are four kinds of starting hands in PLO, drawing hands, pairs and mixed hands. The last kind is weak hands and garbage hands, to be avoided.

Drawing starting hands in pot limit omaha

You will make more money in PLO by starting with well-coordinated hands. For instance JT98 double suited is considered one of the best if not the best starting hand. Here double suited means that you have two cards in one suit, and the two other cards in another suit.

The double-suited feature is highly important in PLO and adds strength to any hand. One specific difference between PLO and Texas Holdem is that you must use two of your four hole cards, plus three cards from the board. Hence you must have at least two cards of a suit in order to make a flush. If 4 diamonds are on the board and you have only one diamond, then you do not have a flush.

Conversely if you had 3 diamonds within your hole cards, one of them would be wasted as far as drawing to the flush is concerned. Any such hand with dead wood is bad. So the double suited hand is the best possible distribution of the suits that you can have in PLO, as it gives you two flush draws. Such hands are always premium hands compared to the same cards but not double suited.

The second category of powerful drawing hands that you can get are hands with straight potential, such as T987. These hole cards are very powerful and show how the ability to pick 2 cards among 4 gives so much more strength to your hole cards than the basic Texas Holdem situation.

With T987 you can get a straight draw by the flop if QJ, KJ, JT, J9, T8 and so many other combinations show up. Here lies the beauty of these straight type hole cards where plenty of flops can give them a straight draw. The next best choice in this theme are hands with one gaper like JT87, which have plenty of potential, just a bit less.

Combining the straight and flush potential produces the hold cards with the most drawing power such as QJT9 double suited, one of the best hand you can possibly have. By the way on a side note, pokerstars is where you will find the most action in PLO, use a pokerstars marketing code when you sign up at stars.

Pairs and mixed hands

The other kind of strong starting hands is double pairs, such as AAKK, the strongest of them all. Owing a pair amid your hole cards is having an already made hand, plus drawing to stronger hands such as sets of boats. It is usually believed that the two strongest hands in PLO are AAKK and QJT9 double suited, illustrating that made hands battle on an equal footing with drawing hands.

Obviously the higher the rank of the cards, the stronger the hands, and small pairs are particularly vulnerable in PLO. 6655 is a nice hand, but it must be played with caution.

Note that single pairs with no coordination such as QQ94 rainbow are weak hands, as this is like having a pair of queens with some dead wood. Similarly a hand like QQQ3 is very weak, because one queen is useless given that you must use two hole cards and it also reduces your outs to just one, for the fourth queen.

Mixed hands are strong starting hands that mix the advantage of the pairs with that of the drawing hands in a well-coordinated manner, such as KKQJ double suited, a very strong hand with plenty of potential.

The Omaha starting hands discussed so far are all strong hands and they should be raised most of the time preflop. Medium strength hands are the one just below, with some of the features of strong hands but with a ligher dose. For instance QQ77 is rather strong, but far weaker than KKQQ. Or T976 single suited is rather good, but not as good as the top drawing hands.

Remember the concepts in this article: drawing hands, pairs, mixed hands, coordination and dead wood. Fold any hand that does not look good from this standpoint, and you will be set for success. Remember pot-limit omaha games at low and mid stakes are loose. Play a little bit tighter and you will put all chances to increase your bankroll on your side.

For starting hands requirements in Omaha Hi/Lo, check the article about starting hands in Omaha High Low.

If you are looking for the best online rooms for PLO, only a few really have action in these games, as most rooms cater to Texas Holdem. So for the best pot limit omaha games on the Internet, the recommended rooms are Full Tilt and PokerStars.

Omaha Tips
Starting hands
Holdem players
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Bluffing in Omaha
PLO mid stakes

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