Being a Great Pot Limit Omaha Player Is Not Only about Your Poker Skills!

Jakub Szczotka
30 cze 2024
6 mins read

Being a winning PLO player in 2024 (and beyond) requires a broad skill set. You have to be up to date with the latest strategy findings (usually derived from GTO studies), be aware of your leaks to work on and put a lot of time into practicing what you've already learned. On top of that, you have to be mentally and physically prepared for periods when things don't go as intended and avoid developing behaviours that hurt your win rate.

Does it sound complicated? It might, but on our blog, we continuously examine how to transform into a standout player, one factor at a time.

This entry will examine what you should focus on while away from the tables.

Developing a successful poker career requires discipline

Whether you believe that poker is a sport or not, it undoubtedly is a game that requires you to be able to perform to the maximum of your capabilities over extended periods. And if you want to be able to do so, you have to put work into proper preparation.

You should focus on working in two main areas to become a better player.

The first one is understanding and knowledge of the game. While Pot Limit Omaha is a very complex and rewarding game, it is relatively easy to pinpoint specific areas to study (like in our blog posts, with poker tips and advice on taking advantage of GTO when playing PLO).

The second aspect is your ability to perform and incorporate your knowledge into the games you play. Even the most extensive knowledge of PLO strategy won’t help if you can’t incorporate it into your decisions.

How should you prepare yourself to play to the best of your abilities? Plan your poker-related activities and take good care of your mind and body.

Develop good habits and fight the bad ones

Habits are a powerful tool to improve your productivity, capabilities and overall well-being.

An excellent habit for improving your poker performance is setting weekly study time. It doesn’t have to be a lot of hours (unless you’re a professional or aspire to be one), but establishing such time is a game changer.

It’s one of the most common mistakes people commit repeatedly - they cannot balance their study sessions and play sessions. Naturally, studying is not as thrilling as playing itself, but it’s like training in sports. You teach your brain how to perform effectively at the tables during the study.

We’ve covered this topic recently, so feel free to check out the Study PLO Wisely article.

Put some effort into preparing yourself

Whether you’re about to start studying or playing, preparation plays a vital role in your effectiveness in what you're about to do. It might sound silly, but many pros underline the importance of how small things (like tidying up your desk or taking out the trash) improve their ability to focus. Studying and playing occupy your brain to a certain degree, so the fewer distractions in your sight, the better.

When talking about distractions, we can’t omit the most prominent elephant in the room: the ever-present notifications. Whether we refer to communicators, e-mails, or apps, they are very effective at catching your attention (and that’s how they were designed).

Many modern technologies fight for your attention almost constantly, drastically hindering your focus on learning or implementing what you’ve already learned. This is problematic because human minds work best when focused on one thing at a time instead of trying to do many things at once.

Even if you think you can multitask with great results, don’t fool yourself; many published studies have denied the human ability to multitask effectively (you’ll find some of them here, here and here). What is equally important, according to scientists, is that every time you get distracted, your ability to quickly focus back to the topic you’ve been occupied with lowers.

The solution is simple but not easy to implement: cut yourself off from things that can distract you.

We’re aware it will be a very tough and, at the same time, difficult habit to construct, but switching off all of the possible notification sources should, after some time, improve your ability to focus, both while learning and playing (and it’s a significant edge to develop).

Let's take a real-life example: If you’re regular to live PLO poker cash games, ask yourself how much time you spend browsing your phone instead of watching the action. What about others? We’re pretty confident that you can gather plenty of information during live games, which, if used correctly, could skyrocket your win rate.

Warmup is always a good idea

A great thing about practicing and applying poker theory is that you can merge these two. Many players are pleased with setting aside time before the session to warm up, which signals their brains that it’s poker time.

Admittedly learning new concepts is best left for longer, more intense study sessions, but practicing your ranges for the most common situations, estimating equity in certain spots or playing with a GTO trainer are all great ways to warm up before your poker session.

Also, whenever you’re about to start a more extended session, don’t forget to prepare some snacks (healthy ones, like nuts or dried fruit) and water.

Every action costs you an energy

Based on your previous experiences, you’re likely aware of how long you can stay focused and productive.

The distractions mentioned above continuously lower your ability to focus, consequently draining your mental energy and making you play worse. That's why you should work on extending the time limit within which you can play your best game (instead of just playing).

Being self-aware of how you feel, how well you can perform, and whether you can explain the logic behind what you are doing now is a great way to counteract behaviours that negatively impact your win rate.

A bad habit that almost every poker player is guilty of is chasing losses. What’s natural to most humans is that losses hit us harder than wins cheer us. As a result, many players have difficulty calling a losing session a day. If you’re an experienced poker player, it’s almost certain that there were some sessions when you committed yourself to get breakeven, even when the game was not very good anymore, you were tired, and you were playing your B or C game.

Identifying such situations and exercising the discipline to get up from the table will boost your win rate. Sometimes, if you’re forcing yourself to play to win your money back from the ‘fish’, you might be the ‘fish’.

Take breaks

Since playing poker (including Pot Limit Omaha) can be very mentally exhausting and stressful, taking breaks is very beneficial to keeping your mind fresh and capable of implementing what you’ve learned earlier.

Luckily, that’s relatively easy if you play cash games online. It’s especially convenient if you play the "fast" variants, allowing you to pause anytime. Even if your main game is a live cash game, you can often take a break for some time without consequences.

During such breaks, it is a great idea to do a quick self-examination of how good you feel, how highly you would rate your game, and if there are any quick fixes to deploy.

Get every edge you can

Modern poker is quite competitive, so you should rely on every edge possible.

On the macro level, you should focus on habits that affect every aspect of your life, like taking good care of your sleep and diet and exercising regularly. Remember that you do not have to make drastic changes; start with minor improvements. There are plenty of materials online that will help you adjust your bedroom or improve your diet.

On the more micro level, you should focus on taking good care of how you plan and execute every session you play. All of the micro-adjustments will add up to a bigger picture.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

A few years ago, an avid and popular poker grinder wrote a book named “Treat Your Poker Like a Business”. While the book itself is pretty old, so we won’t necessarily recommend it, the idea behind it definitely stood the test of time.

Plan your poker activities. Do not neglect the needs of your body and mind. Find out what works best for you by trial and error. Also, do not neglect the social aspect of poker—exchange experiences with other players striving for the same goals. A great place to do so is our Discord server.

Whichever path you choose, the most important thing is to start walking it.