Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) is the second most popular poker game in the world today. Clearly sitting just below No Limit Hold’em in the pecking order, PLO is the action junkie’s favourite. But why do the vast majority play the pot limit variant rather than no limit?
Surely if a player is seeking big pots and constant action they would prefer to be jamming left and right, facing huge spots in a high percentage of hands. It turns out that there are many reasons why No Limit Omaha never grew in popularity like its more conservative cousin.
All About the ActionOmaha is predominantly played by people who are seeking more action than specifically what a typical NL Hold’em game can provide. Four cards instead of two means players will hit more boards than in NL Hold’em leading to more post-flop action.
One key difference between the two games is that the equities in Omaha run much closer than in Hold’em. Hold’em often throws up spots where one player has more than 80% equity, but Omaha players will frequently find they rarely get past the 60-65% region.
For this reason, when a lot of chips have already gone into the pot players are generally much happier to be stacking off in a PLO game.
This difference means that much of the interesting parts of Omaha are lost in NLO compared to PLO. In NLO so much action goes on pre-flop and on the flop that turn and river play is just missing during most sessions. This kills a key part of what makes Omaha such a great game.
VarianceAnyone who has played PLO after NL Hold’em will have gone through the shock of discovering how much more extreme the variance is. The equities running close together mean that the worst hand will be seen coming out on top much more than in Hold’em.
Now imagine if players are jamming pre-flop constantly in NLO what it would be like even compared to PLO. Too much for most players who will then start to wonder how they can find an edge. It feels more like bingo, especially after going to NLO from NL Hold’em.
And what about the rake? Rake is a reality that poker players have had to learn to accept and it bites particularly hard in PLO. In a NLO game where with many pre-flop stack offs it is borderline criminal.
Another reason why PLO is more prevalent than NLO is that it allows players with more skill to extract more value. Players aren’t able to constantly force out others from the pot trying to protect their hand, it is a more subtle and ultimately enjoyable playing experience all round.