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Pot Limit Omaha Strategy

Why Raising Preflop in Pot-Limit Omaha is a Bad Idea
by Chad Holloway of

Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO) is one of the most popular, yet dangerous, poker games played today. Vast amounts of money change hands in this action game and the swings are immense. It is truly a game for serious poker players. With its popularity, many amateur players have decided to try PLO without much practice or knowledge. There are numerous skills and strategies that one can acquire by browsing the online forums or picking up one of the many poker books devoted to PLO; however, few are as important as the lesson advocated by T.J. Cloutier in his book, Championship Omaha. In that book he suggests that no starting hand in PLO is worth putting in the first raise:

"The man that I consider to be the best high-stakes Omaha player alive is Lyle Berman. I think he has the best mind for the game. He once told me that in any pot-limit Omaha tournament, there is no hand worth putting in the first raise before the flop. He's not suggesting that you don't reraise with aces double-suited to knock the field down to one player if you can-of course, you can do that. But you seldom put in the first raise with any hand. When you think about it, do you know how often players get broke in tournaments and side games with two aces? An enormous number of times. You see, that first raise is never big enough to shut people out. They know where you're at most of the time . . . What Lyle said is so true: If anybody has a decent playing hand, he's going to call the first raise at least. You can't knock anybody out with the first raise anyhow, so let them do the raising."

Why would you let them do the raising? The answer is simple, you want them to make the initial raise so when it gets back to you, you can reraise. This will allow you raise an amount large enough to put pressure on the other players and narrow the field, something you couldn't accomplish if you had made the first raise. Cloutier explains an ideal situation to look for when you hold a hand strong enough to build a large pot:

"If you want to do something in pot-limit Omaha, look for a situation like the following: There are three players in the pot, somebody raises and then gets called in two spots. By this time there's enough money in the pot that you can either shut out all of them or all except one of them with a pot-sized reraise. You see, the pot has to be big enough in pot-limit to allow you to put in enough money to shut out the other players. This is why I believe Lyle's theory is right: There is no hand good enough for a good player to make the first raise in pot-limit Omaha."

On the flip side, if you find yourself limping in with a hand like aces double-suited and no one puts in a raise, don't get too attached to your hand after the flop. If you are fortunate enough to hit a set, a flush, or a flush draw, then you are still in great shape; however, if the board comes middle cards, such as 10-7-6, or low cards, such as 3-4-6, with no flush draws to your suit, you'd better be able to dump the hand fairly quickly. In PLO, whatever the nut hand is will generally be out there; more importantly, whatever draws are possible are out there waiting to hit. Keep this in mind when all you're sitting on is a pair of aces with weak draws, or no draws at.

Finding a good game of Pot Limit Omaha online is not easy. For the best selection of games and the most players online 24/7, check out Bovada Poker.

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