A natural transition for hold’em players
Over the last several years, I have felt a little lazy. I’ve wanted to start learning new games, but I’ve always focused on hold’em. My bread-and-butter game starting out was limit hold’em. I then got into no-limit tournaments, which were really a different beast altogether. With my focus currently on my publishing company, websites, and family (three babies in five years doesn’t allow for tons of free time), I don’t have nearly the time to play that I used to have. So, I’ve tried to concentrate the time that I do have on refining my tournament play.

Every year, all of my poker playing was geared for the World Series. I continually improved my tournament play, with the goal of doing my very best in Vegas.

Unfortunately, my cash-game play has suffered as a result, simply because I haven’t been playing a lot of cash games. I have played an occasional shorthanded limit hold’em game, simply because that was always my strong game, but to be honest, I don’t enjoy limit hold’em nearly as much as I used to. And I’ve always had more fun playing no-limit in tournaments, rather than cash games. All of this leads me to pot-limit Omaha.

Pot-limit Omaha offers a natural transition for no-limit hold’em players. Limit hold’em has already matured, with the games being extremely tough nowadays at the higher limits. Any edge that one has is slight. No-limit hold’em is a maturing game, and many of its players are ready to start playing a new game. So, which game makes the most sense?

In poker circles, many have thought of pot-limit Omaha as the game of the future for a long time now. Although the game has grown significantly over the years, this growth has been dwarfed by that of no-limit hold’em. In reality, pot-limit Omaha has been mostly a high-stakes game. However, I believe that we are now on the cusp of major growth in pot-limit Omaha. I think this growth will come for several reasons.

First, as mentioned, many hold’em players started playing the game a few years ago, and many more are reaching the point where they will be looking for new challenges and new games, to mix up their day. Pot-limit Omaha just makes the most sense for a hold’em player.

Just as we saw in limit hold’em, tournaments, sit-and-gos, and no-limit hold’em cash games, poker literature can be a major stimulus for growth. Players are more willing to try new games if they have the right tools. For many years, pot-limit Omaha literature has really not been very prevalent. This has changed over the last year, and now there is about to be a big influx of new pot-limit Omaha books.

For example, Jeff Hwang is a major player behind this new influx of pot-limit Omaha literature. His book Pot-Limit Omaha: Big Play Strategy is recognized by many as the best pot-limit Omaha book available today, especially when playing with deep stacks. Rolf Slotboom also has been a major contributor as the author of Secrets of Professional Pot-Limit Omaha, which many players recommend for short-stack play. He is releasing a new book this summer, Secrets of Short-Handed Pot-Limit Omaha. Hwang also has written two new books. The first will be released at around the time that you are reading this column; it’s titled Advanced Pot-Limit Omaha: Small Ball and Short-Handed Play. Having read this book prior to its release, I am confident that it will be considered a must-read by all pot-limit Omaha players. As a hold’em player, I think this book has shortened my learning curve significantly. In fact, his first book and this one have prepared me so well that I have moved up in limits quite quickly and confidently. The second volume of this book will be released in the fall; it’s titled Advanced Pot-Limit Omaha Volume II: LAG Play and the Short-Handed Workbook.

This influx of new literature will help to grow the game. Just a couple of years ago, there was very little available on the game, and now, thousands of pages of text are available to the poker-playing public. And I’m sure that new works are being written at this very moment.

Finally, I see pot-limit Omaha growing in casinos around the country. The emergence of electronic poker tables will help with this growth, as these tables can offer games with small blinds, and automatically manage the pot-size bets.

So, I truly believe that we are on the horizon of a new poker revolution. Pot-limit Omaha is the next big frontier for poker players who haven’t already discovered the game. After reading two of Jeff Hwang’s books, I am very excited about the game. Trying to master a new game seems like such an insurmountable task, but I realize that with my background in hold’em and the skills I’ve learned from my reading, it shouldn’t take too long to get my pot-limit Omaha game to a level where I can be quite competitive.

At this time of the year, I usually can’t wait for the World Series of Poker. That hasn’t changed, but I also can’t wait to start playing a lot more cash games.

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