For those, like myself, who only found poker through the 2003 WSOP and Chris Moneymaker’s incredible run to the title, it’s hard to believe that No Limit Texas Hold’em hasn’t always been the Cadillac of Poker, but will it always be this way?
The iconic movie Rounders, which helped launch the noughties generation of No Limit players and pros, saw the likes of 5-card draw and 7-card stud fade into the background, but it is the exciting and swingy PLO - Pot Limit Omaha - which has been forcing its way into the hearts and minds of cardlovers over the last decade or so.
Poker players will always go where the money is, or where the easy money is said to be, and sometimes just where their favourite players are playing – and both live and online poker has seen, if bot an exodus, then certainly a steady drift to PLO – to paraphrase George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’, 4 cards good, 2 cards bad!
A quick look at the biggest pots of all time at highstakes level shows that the top 10 biggest online poker pots of all time were all played in PLO (Patrik Antonius and Viktor ‘Isildur 1’ Blom accounting for nine of them, Phil Ivey the other!)
Of course nowadays there is so much information out there in cyberspace that picking up the basics of a new game and becoming decent in a short period of time is easily possible – avoiding the worst mistakes an essential part of any learning process.
Add to this the fact that No Limit games are getting tougher and tougher, and the margin for errors smaller and smaller, and you can easily see why there might be good reason for players to switch - the opportunity to run up huge bankrolls quickly at PLO against what we might describe diplomatically as ‘less well-versed’ players a big plus.
Nevertheless, when you look at the stats, sites such as 888Poker still find their NLHE traffic heavily outweighing PLO games, which suggests that there is perhaps still a reluctance for the average player to deal with the coin-flip variance of Omaha – a safety-first approach if you will.
But, of course, change is inevitable in any game – just ask the old stud specialists who might struggle to find a game nowadays – and it seems pretty clear that as the years pass so will the Cadillac of Poker’s dominance.
For me, and perhaps many readers, this means we’ll have to bite the bullet and learn PLO and some other variants properly – the good news being that there will always be some who don’t do the hard work, meaning there will always be money out there to be won and we will always need a good Texas Hold'em Guide to do so.