Omaha Hi-Lo - Game Rules & Strategy for online Tournaments in Canada
Omaha Hi (also known as “Pot-Limit Omaha”, and “PLO”) is a form of poker that very closely resembles the format of Texas Hold’em. While it’s still a good way off in terms of popularity relative to that of its sister, PLO comes in 2nd in terms of popularity for poker variants.
While many casinos offer Texas Hold’em poker, a good number of those same casinos will also hold some PLO games. PLO tournaments, while more infrequent in live play (except for tournament series), can be prominently found on most poker websites tournament schedules.
The Appeal of PLO Down Under
With gameplay similar to Hold’em, there are a few major points that distinguish it from its counterpart:
- Players are each dealt 4 hole cards (instead of 2 as in Hold’em).
- At showdown, players must use 2 hole cards and 3 community cards to make the best 5-card poker hand.
The appeal of PLO, therefore, comes from the action that it provides. With two extra hole cards, players’ chances of improving their hands to straights, flushes, full houses, or better are significantly increased, creating for a much more exciting game to play!
With additional cards, players can also have way more outs in their draws to improve their hand by making massive combo draws, re-draws, and wrap draws.
Overall, by showdown, players will get better hands than average (and with higher frequency). Play between players will usually be much more loose and aggressive, because of all of the potential for draws to big hands.
Rules of Omaha Hi
After blinds (and antes, if necessary) are posted, each player receives 4 hole cards, which remain a secret throughout the duration of the hand until showdown is reached. A round of betting occurs before any community cards are dealt. At this point, players can fold, call the value of the big blind, or raise (up to the size of the pot in pot-limit games).
After the initial round of betting, 3 community cards are dealt (called the “flop”). These cards are shared amongst all players and can be used by everyone to ultimately help make the best 5-card poker hand (using 3 of them in combination with 2 of his or her hole cards).
After the flop, a round of betting occurs, starting with the player seated to the left of the “button” (player seated to the immediate right of the small blind), or the next player who is still active in the hand.
After the flop betting round is completed, the “turn” is dealt, which consists of one more community cards being placed face-up onto the table. At this point, another betting round occurs.
After this, the “river” is dealt, which is the 5th and final community card. One last betting round takes place, and any players still remaining in the hand go to “showdown.” This is where they turn their cards face-up and show to the table their best 5-card poker hand using exactly 3 community cards and 2 hole cards. The player with the best hand (as per standard poker hand rankings) wins and is awarded the pot, which simultaneously concludes the hand.
Everything You Need to Know about Betting in PLO
There are some “No-Limit” versions of Omaha, but generally it is played as a “Pot-Limit” game. This means that players cannot raise any more than the size of the pot at any given point in the hand.
To calculate the size of the “pot” for a raise, you must first include how much a call would be. In general, if you add up the following amounts, you’ll know the total amount of money you can bet or raise with when the action comes to you:
- The value of all the money currently in the middle of the table
- Your opponent’s bet
- The amount you’d have to call
- Any extra money from callers behind the original raiser
To help illustrate this, below are some pre-flop and post-flop examples:
- PRE-FLOP EXAMPLE: Pre-flop in a PLO $1/$2 cash game, you’d be able to make a maximum raise to $7 (which is pot-sized), if you’re first to act. We arrive at this amount by taking:
$0 (the amount of money currently in the pot in the middle of the
table – the blinds are still in front of the respective players)
+ $2 (your opponent’s bet, the big blind)
+ $2 (the amount you’d have to call)
+ $1 (any extra money posted by other players in the round of betting,
in this case, the small blind)
By taking the above sum ($5) and adding it to the total amount you’d have to call ($2), you come out with the total, pot-sized bet you could make ($7). (For the small blind, they’d be able to make a pot-sized raise to $6, if the action folded around to them – a number that can be reached by using the same method.)
- POST-FLOP EXAMPLE: Post-flop, it’s easy to initially bet the size of the pot because you can to see how much money is in the pot already. It’s when you raise post-flop that things can get tricky again (similar to pre-flop). Let’s suppose there’s $20 in the middle of the pot, and your opponent bets $15. One person calls before we act. What’s the maximum amount we can raise?
$20 (the amount of money currently in the middle pot)
+ $15 (your opponent’s bet)
+ $15 (the amount you’d have to call)
+ $15 (any extra money posted by other players in the round of
betting, in this case, the person you just called the initial raise).
Now, take this sum ($65) and add it to the amount you’d have to call ($15) to come out with the total pot-sized bet you’d be able to make ($80).
- DOUBLE-CHECK: An easy way to double-check your calculations are correct, especially for raise sizes, is to take (the amount of money in the middle of the table) + (the sum of all current bets in this round). If that amount is exactly double the amount that the last aggressor (bettor/raiser) would have to call to continue, then your calculations are correct.
To illustrate this, let’s use our post-flop example from above:
$20 (the amount of money currently in the middle pot
+ $110 (the sum of all current bets: $15 + $15 + $80)
Now take this sum ($130) and check that it’d be double the amount the last aggressor would have to call. In this case, the initial bettor bet $15 and to call your raise would have to put $65 more into the pot. The sum above ($130) is exactly double the amount the last aggressor would still have to put into the pot to call ($65), which means that we have arrived at the correct pot-size raise.
With all that said, the good news is that there’s no need to be discouraged if the maths is a bit confusing. While it does get better with practice, luckily for you, whatever online poker software you choose to play on will usually have a “pot button” that allows you to swiftly and easily make a raise that’s the size of the pot. (In other words, the software you have is able to do all of the calculations for you!)
Now you know a little bit about the game of PLO and how it's played, why not give it a go?