Daniel Negreanu - Pot Limit Omaha - Pokers Newsest Fad

Pot limit Omaha is catching on like wild fire in card rooms and casinos around the world, especially in high stakes online cash games. The game is poker's newest fad.

Here's how to play Omaha.

Just like Texas Hold'em, there's a small blind and big blind to help start the action. Then, each player is dealt four cards face down followed by the first round of betting. Once the betting is complete, three community cards are flopped in the middle. Another round of betting is followed by the turn card. There's another round of betting, the river card, and the final round of betting.

The biggest differences between Omaha and Hold'em is that you get four hole cards in Omaha as opposed to two in Hold'em, and in Omaha, you can only use two of your hole cards and must play three cards from the board.

Okay, let's proceed.

In Hold'em, if the final board read A-K-Q-J-10 with no flush draw, you'd obviously play the straight on the board without using either of your hole cards. In Omaha, though, you'd have to have in your hand any two card combination containing a ten or higher to complete that straight.

Keep in mind that the average winning hand in Omaha is much stronger than in Hold'em because players start the game with more cards. One pair rarely wins an Omaha pot even if that pair is aces. In Hold'em, on the other hand, a pair of aces is right around the average winning hand.

Pot limit Omaha is growing in popularity because the game creates much more action than Hold'em; the game simply affords more opportunity to gamble. It's common for pots to get pretty big in Omaha because two or more players are likely to develop strong hands after the flop.

Consider this example: Player A holds Ah-Jh-Qs-9d and Player B holds 10c-10s-8c-7d. The flop comes 10h-8h-2c.
Although Player B has the best hand after the flop with three tens, Player A holds a powerful drawing hand with the ace high flush draw as well as a wrap - a straight draw with more than two different cards to complete it. Player A is looking for a 7, 9, jack or a heart to win the pot, provided that the board doesn't pair which would make a full house for Player B.

So, if you had to put all of your money into the pot, which hand would you choose?
Well, it's actually a trick question. These hands are exactly even in strength after the flop. It's 50-50, right on the dot. Both players would be absolutely correct to risk all of their chips after the flop. It's rare to find these true coin flip situations in Hold'em, but surprisingly common in Omaha.

That's one of the reasons why Omaha is the perfect game for action junkies who relish the notion of flipping coins for large sums of money.

But don't fool yourself, pot limit Omaha is clearly a game of immense skill. Over the long run, the most talented players will win by making good folds and big bluffs; weak players will chase draws they should be folding and call bets on the river when their hands are hopeless.

Among high stakes online players, pot limit Omaha has already surpassed Hold'em in popularity. Mainstream players, however, will always prefer to play Hold'em because it's definitely an easier game to learn. Also, most people just aren't crazy about risking it all on one hand - a fairly common occurrence in pot limit Omaha.

High stakes gamblers love heart-racing Omaha-type action; normal poker players don't!

Written by Daniel Negreanu
Friday, 22 August 2008 10:23