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Differences between Pot Limit Omaha and No Limit Hold Em

What are the crucial differences between Pot Limit Omaha and No Limit Hold ‘Em? In this article we’ll examine the 7 important distinctions you need to know before making the switch from NLHE to PLO.

On the surface Pot Limit Omaha and No Limit Hold Em’ are very similar games: in fact summarising the differences in their rules takes only a few words: You get 4 hole cards instead of 2, you must use exactly 2 cards from your hand and 3 from the board and the betting is pot limit. Despite the similarity, however, there are many important and often subtle differences between the games that if you aren’t aware of will cost you a lot of money. After several years of experience playing the online PLO cash games I’ve come up with a list of 7 important differences between Pot Limit Omaha and No Limit Hold ‘Em that I think every player should know. These 7 distinctions are as follows:

  1. Position is even more important
  2. Your fold equity is often a lot lower
  3. On certain very drawy flops pushing even the nuts can be a mistake
  4. On average there are far more close decisions
  5. The correct play is more dependant on stack sizes
  6. Playing loose/passive pre flop can be okay
  7. Variance is much higher

Position is even more important

In all forms of poker position is extremely important and often overlooked but in PLO it’s probably even more essential than normal. Firstly it is a “pot limit” game which means that you can’t easily force your opponent into making bad decisions when you’re out of position. Because you can’t overbet on the flop or with a reraise pre-flop like you can in NLHE it means your opponent will almost always have the odds to call you or float you putting you in difficult situations on later streets.

More importantly, however, is the fact that pots get big fast and that turns and rivers will often complete lots of draws. By being in position you have a huge advantage in that you can see what your opponent does first. Let’s say he check calls the flop and a flush card hits on the turn, if he leads you can consider folding your two pair, but if he checks you can check behind and perhaps make a full house, even if you don’t he, again, will have to either lead, giving you the option of folding, or he’ll check giving you a cheap showdown. Imagine now that you have the flush draw on the flop and it hits on the turn, if your opponent has the two pair it will be hard for him to play… he’ll hate to check/fold as you might just be double barrelling him off his hand, but he can’t very well lead because he’ll rarely be called my worse. He’s in a tough spot.

Imagine a third scenario, you make the nut flush on the turn and he makes the jack high flush. Being out of position his options are much worse than if it was the other way around. Let’s say he checks and you fire a big 2nd barrel. If he shoves he’ll often get called by a better flush (like you have) but if he just calls he will feel awful check folding a blank river and he might also be allowing a set (which could fold to a check/raise shove) to make a full house. His other option is to lead the turn but this is bad too because if he gets shoved on he’ll be in a horrible position again, it also telegraphs his hand if his opponent were to have two pair. It’s very hard for him to make money with his flush out of position.

Being in position with a medium flush, however, allows you to play it almost perfectly. You can easily flat call a turn lead with the intention to folding to a big river bet or if it’s checked to you you can check back for pot control allowing you to lose a small pot when he has a big flush and leads the river or win an extra big bet against two pair if he checks the river and feels obliged to call after you showed weakness on the turn.

Typically being in position gives you an around the equivalent of a half pot sized river bet in additional equity as opposed to being out of position given the exact same holdings. You’ll win bigger pots when you have the nuts and you’ll lose smaller pots when you’re beat. All good poker players realise this which is why they always play tighter out of position than in. When considering the differences between Pot Limit Omaha and No Limit Hold Em you absolutely mustn’t underestimate just how vital playing position effectively really is. By simply calling from the blinds with a wide range of hands you could unknowingly obliterate your entire chance of making a profit.

Click here for reason #2: Your fold equity is often a lot lower

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