Texas Hold’em vs. Pot Limit Omaha Starting Hands

A top pair, top kicker is NOT a good starting hand in PLO - whereas an overpair is a big hand in Holdem.

Omaha vs Hold'em Starting HandsIn Texas Hold’em, flopping top pair with top kicker is a great result. It certainly will not win every hand, but it’s quite a good result, considering that two unpaired cards only hit a pair or better on the flop about one third of the time. Obviously, the higher the pair, the better. Top pair, top kicker (TPTK) when the flop is 7-3-2 is vulnerable to overcards and overpairs. Top pair, top kicker when made with A-K is much more solid.

In both Pot Limit Omaha and Texas Holdem, the number of opponents matters. If seven see the flop in Hold’em, top pair with top kicker loses some appeal, because someone may have hit the flop harder. In Pot Limit Omaha, if seven see the flop, it is a virtual certainty that top pair, top kicker is way behind and should be quietly folding (unless the player has multiple draws).

Alternatively, if there are only two players in the pot, you have an increased chance of winning with a hand like this. The cardinal rule here is to keep the pot small if you can, and if your opponent seems to want to play a big pot, wait until you have a bigger hand to do it.

OverPairs in Pot Limit Omaha

Overpairs are even bigger in Holdem, but again, they are virtually worthless in Pot Limit Omaha. Top two pair is about the minimum holding you want to continue after the flop with, and then only against one player, preferably with position, and rarely for a big pot.

Flopping a Top Set in PLO

Flopping top set is usually a good development, but even then, you must be aware of board texture. With four cards in their hand, an opponent may have as many as 20 outs against you to draw to a flush and/or straight. It is true that you may catch a board pair to make a full house and beat them, but you can flop top set and actually be an underdog. In holdem, you are only an underdog if you flop top set but someone else flopped a flush or straight.

Play for the Nuts

In general, in Pot Limit Omaha you are playing to make the nuts, the best possible hand on the river. This means flopping hands that:

1. Have huge draws and redraws, or

2. Are a good made hand plus have redraws.

If you hold Jc Td 4s 3d and I hold Ks Qs Jh Tc on a flop of 9s 8s 7h we both flopped a straight, but your hand can not improve, and mine can improve in several ways. Any Jack, Ten, or spade gives me a better hand. I have 14 outs to improve my hand. The best you can do is win half the pot. This situation is known as a freeroll, and is discussed in more detail in other articles.

There are only 2 real exceptions to “the nuts.”:

1. Top full house when the board is paired is practically the nuts - Like holding KK on a board of Kxx88. Although a player with 88 has you beat, these situations are unlikely and you can usually play as if you have the nuts.

2. A straight flush possibility when you have what would otherwise be the nut flush (and the board is not paired making a full house possible).