Nick Wealthall starts a new love affair with pot limit Omaha

With his poker mojo at an all-time low, Nick Wealthall makes a life-changing switch to pot-limit Omaha, and wonders why he never thought of it before…

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. I’m pretty sure I saw that on a beermat somewhere. However, recently that hasn’t been true when I’ve played poker. The online games have been getting steadily tougher and less profitable and (whisper it quietly) I’ve been getting worse.

If I’m honest the three or four months leading up to Vegas were some of my worst. I was rarely arriving ready to play and had become lazy and unfocused and was generally going through the motions. In fact, going into Vegas I was considering taking a long break from the game. The truth is, I’d lost my poker mojo and was desperate to get it back.

Now usually, going to Vegas and behaving like I’m 14 on a Centre Parcs vacation for a month is exactly what’s needed to reignite my passion for the game for another year. This time, however, I wasn’t sure that was going to be enough. Something more radical was needed. And that something was a game called pot-limit Omaha.

The credit for this idea has to go to poker guru and CardRunners pro Brian Townsend. After talking to him and other people in the know it seemed like a no-brainer. The case was simple: Omaha is a more interesting game, it’s more fun and, far more crucially, the game is far less exposed in terms of coverage and knowledge, so players are making more errors on a regular basis. Or to put it another way, the players are worse so you can make more money.


Normally when I’m asked why I play poker I try to spin some pseudo-intellectual crap about the game being a reflection of life and an endlessly fascinating battle to control the fates. All of that may be true (it’s not) but as we all know, the real reason for playing is to be better than the other fella and take all his cash. Playing a new game wasn’t just exciting, it helped me realise all of this anew. All of a sudden my mojo-ometer (which is definitely a real thing) was running on full again.

Given that Omaha has been around the whole time I’ve been playing, I’ve been wondering why this idea never occurred to me before. Omaha can be intimidating; there’s nowhere near as much information on the game as there is with Hold’em and it’s rarely covered by the media. If you do jump in, the fog is more likely to thicken than clear, as every hand looks playable and it’s almost impossible to miss the flop completely with all those card combinations. A few buy-ins later and most players, me included, retreat to the safety of Hold’em. It’s taken a real plateau in my Hold’em game, and some clear evidence that there’s money to be made over the fence in the Omaha games, for me to make the jump. I know I’m not alone in this; my challenge will be to learn faster than the other Hold’em players looking to hoover up the dead money.

I’ve also managed to find a way to make the whole Omaha adventure a little bit more exciting. Regular readers of this column will know that not playing the WSOP Main Event has become a real bugbear for me. Well, thanks to the good people at Virgin Poker and my ability to incessantly nag people until they do stuff, I now have a chance to change that. Starting from the low stakes tables I need to make $5,000 or more playing Omaha before the next WSOP and they’ll match it to finally get me that elusive Main Event entry. Of course, I’m aiming to make far more, but it’s nice to have a goal beyond not misreading my hand on a regular basis.

I’ve only played it a few times before in home games so I’m basically starting from scratch. Two weeks into my magnificent adventure and here are some things I’ve learned about Omaha so far…

Nick’s PLO discoveries

  • Pointing at the screen or using your fingers to count your outs is acceptable for the first week of play. If you’re still doing it after that, PLO may not be the game for you.
  • There’s almost always a possible straight, and if you can’t see it, you’re just not looking hard enough.
  • Playing Omaha is big and clever and makes you look really cool and hard but with a sensitive side.
  • It is very, very, life- swallowingly addictive.
  • Omaha is the largest city in the state of Nebraska. Knowing this will not make you any more popular at dinner parties or help your ROI when playing the game.
  • There’s almost always a possible straight, so if someone keeps raising when you have top set, they have it and you’re screwed.
  • Explaining the difference between Hold’em and Omaha to people who don’t even play poker is -EV in life terms.
  • A lot of hands are like ladies – they look really, really pretty but this may or may not translate to them being worth playing with.
  • I suck at it… so far. “I need to make $5,000 or more from playing Omaha before the next WSOP”

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