Poker Home Games: A Little Piece of Omaha (ALPO)

February 10, 2008

There’s nothing I enjoy more when it comes to poker than a variation on a classic. A variation that really works, mind you, and forces seasoned poker players to rethink their entire strategy to adjust to a new set of circumstances.

A Little Piece of Omaha (or ALPO for short) has that in…..well…..spades.

I’ll assume everyone is familiar with the general rules of Omaha Hold ‘Em, so we’ll pick up from there.

Important note to start – This game cannot be played with fewer than 5 players. 5 is the absolute minimum, and although I’m typically not a fan of a packed table (just my preference), the more players there are for ALPO, the more interesting it gets.

1.) Each player is dealt 5 cards, face down. Note this is one more card per player than in typical Omaha.

2.) The deck is set aside, as it has served it’s purpose for this game and won’t be needed anymore.

3.) Each player then sorts through his or her hand and selects one card to add to the discard pile for the dealer. It is discarded face down, so not even the dealer sees it.

4.) At this point, the dealer shuffles the discard pile and selects 5 cards out of the bunch to make up the 5 community cards for the hand.

5.) Betting, play and payouts proceed as in regular Omaha at this point.

I really can’t explain how much I love playing this variation of Omaha Hold ‘Em. I introduced it to my regular group after just learning about it a few months ago myself, and now I’m totally addicted. When my deal comes around, I’m playing ALPO 9 out of 10 times these days.

The strategic plays are endless. If there’s more than 5 people playing, you have to ask yourself….will my discarded card show up in the community? If you’re dealt 3 aces in regular Omaha, the third Ace is worthless…but in ALPO it might make perfect sense to discard it in hopes that it comes up in the community.

What if you have 4 to a straight but a lone, out of place Ace? Do you discard the Ace and give your opponents ammunition for a high two-pair or full house?

I’ve kicked myself a few times already over the decisions I’ve been forced to make. I’d say having to discard something you know will help your opponents is almost as bad as breaking up a full house in pass the trash.

Give it a try, it might not build up the largest pots (unless you’re playing no-limit like the games at BodogPoker, of course) but it will definitely cause a few internal wars in your head. And isn’t that just as much fun? Laughing