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Starting Hands in Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) & Poker Equity

December 14 Sandra Wong

PLO Starting Hands

I’m a no-limit hold’em player and lately due to burn-out decided to start playing PLO. I have played it a bit in the past but only until recently really caught on to wanting to play more. It’s fun, high variance and action packed. So like any other poker game, in order to be good at poker you need to put some work in. A good place I thought I should start is understanding what the best starting hands are in poker.

Because in Omaha you are dealt twice as many starting cards as hold’em, you need to think of the cards you play in terms of getting as much equity as possible. Because so many cards are dealt, it is easy for your opponents to have many pairs and combo-draws of all kinds that can make the nuts. To give yourself the best opportunity, you need to have the same or better so that you can have the best chance at winning.

So what are the best starting hands in PLO? or OMAHA?

First off, all these hands MUST be double-suited. Meaning combos of 2 flush draw possibilities. Just like hold’em big pairs still hold premium value so they are still huge starting hands preflop. The only difference is that you need to make sure they are coupled with redraw possibilities such as to why AAJT doubled suited is the 2nd best hand because you have much better straight/flush draw potential than AAQQ, in terms of equity or hand worth.

1. A-A-K-K 11. K-Q-J-T 21. Q-Q-A-K
2. A-A-J-T 12. K-K-T-T 22. Q-Q-A-J
3. A-A-Q-Q 13. K-K-A-Q 23. Q-Q-A-T
4. A-A-J-J 14. K-K-A-J 24. Q-Q-K-J
5. A-A-T-T 15. K-K-A-T 25. Q-Q-K-T
6. A-A-9-9 16. K-K-Q-J 26. Q-Q-J-T
7. A-A-x-x 17. K-K-Q-T 27. Q-Q-J-9
8. J-T-9-8 18. K-K-J-T 28. Q-Q-9-9
9. K-K-Q-Q 19. Q-Q-J-J 29. J-J-T-T
10. K-K-J-J 20. Q-Q-T-T 30. J-J-T-9

It’s crucial to understand how spread out the distribution of equity is in PLO-Omaha starting hands. Hand Equity (your odds of winning the pot), you need to first know how many outs you have to make your hand. If you don’t know how many outs you have, you need to practice and memorize, starting with knowing that there are 4-cards of every value and 13 cards in suite.

Equity Shortcut: The easiest way to get your equity is to remember this simple rule:
On the flop, multiply your outs by four.
On the turn, multiply your outs by two.

“In Hold’em the No. 1 starting hand (A♥ A♠) holds 83% preflop equity over the second-best starting hand (K♥ K♠).

In Omaha the best starting hand (A♥ A♠ K♥ K♠) is only 33% to win (41% to tie) against the second-best starting hand (A♦ A♣ T♦ J♣). There is only a 6% edge for the best Omaha hand to win against the second-best Omaha hand, versus the 66% edge in Hold’em.” re: PokerListings.

How to win at PLO?

If you already know how to play poker then you will know these following rules apply to all poker games:

  1. Play within your bankroll.
  2. Omaha is high variance and super swingy. Control your emotions and understand that bad beats are part of the game. You will get many of them so if you are easy to tilt, omaha is the worst game for you possibly.
  3. Know your pot odds and +EV situations and what are -EV situations.
  4. Play on the tighter side when you start off in new poker games and open up only when you feel like you have learned your table.
  5. Don’t get married to big hands preflop or after the flop. If you feel u are beat, u can fold. It is an option.

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