It’s amazing the difference that two cards can make. As opposed to Hold ‘em where poker players have two hole cards at the start of each hand, Omaha poker starts each player off with four cards, which makes both pre- and post-flop play much more challenging, especially for those who are new to the game.
In fact, Pot-Limit Omaha can be so complicated that when playing it in a ring game, at an online poker site like Americas Card Room, I think your best move is to buy in for the minimum – especially if you’re not as experienced as the other players at the table. Even if you’re a really good player, it’s an advantage to buy in short because it will be a lot easier to make a move when you get dealt a big hand.
Let’s say you get Aces before the flop. If you’ve bought in for the minimum, you’ll often be able to get most of your chips into the pot pre-flop, which should always be your goal when you know you have the best hand. Once you get your chips in, your opponents won’t be able to push you off your hand. You will be able to see all five cards on the board while they’ll be trying to bet each other out of the pot. If you’re a beginning online poker player, you’re not going to get trapped or outplayed because you’re already all-in.
Or let’s say you flop a set. Once again, if you’re short you’re going to be able to get all your money into the pot and if a scare card comes – for example, one that could give your opponent a straight – you won’t have to figure out what to do with your hand. If you had a big stack in this situation and were playing against a very aggressive player, he might bet the pot on the turn and you wouldn’t be able to call.
Conversely, let’s say you’ve got a strong draw and it’s a multi-way pot. If you’ve bought in for the minimum, you can stick everything into the pot and you’ve got a good chance of tripling or even quadrupling up. Your opponents won’t be able to bet you out of the hand because you’ll have already shoved all your chips into the pot.
There are some advantages to buying in for the maximum, but only if you’re a strong player who can put your opponents on a hand and you’re really confident in your ability to outplay them. Then, when a scare card hits the board, you can be the one forcing your opponents off their hands by making a huge bet. You’d also be wise to buy in for the maximum when there’s a really weak player with a big stack sitting at your table. In that situation you’d want as big a stack as possible so you could take advantage of the weaker player.
Your position at the table is also an important factor when deciding how much to buy in for. If there’s a weak player with a big stack on your right, then you might want to buy in for a lot of chips. But if there’s a tough player with a big stack sitting behind you, even if you think you’re a better player than he is, you’d still be better off buying in short.
When playing Pot-Limit Omaha in a ring game, my philosophy has always been to buy in short. I suggest you do the same, especially if you’re new to the game.
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