Throughout the late 1900’s, Texas Holdem was the game to play for both casual and professional poker players. Those who were good at it won money, while those who weren’t contributed to the coffers of better players. That’s just how it was. When the insurgence of poker struck in the early 2000’s, the dynamics of Texas Holdem changed. There were literally so many bad players in the mix that the pros were actually losing money due to variance. As a result, PLO became the game of choice for many of the top poker pros.
For the last decade or so, there’s has been a steady rise in the popularity of PLO; a shortened term for Pot Limit Omaha. Omaha is a variation of Texas Holdem in which players receive 4 hole cards instead of just two. That alone would give players an exceptional range of hands to work with, so the rules were also altered to restrict the use of those hole cards. Players are required to make a 5-card hand using exactly 2 hole cards and three community cards. The average rank of winnings hands is still increased compared to Texas Holdem, but gone are the days of making a straight just because the board dropped a 4-runner sequence.
As popular as PLO has become in the online poker community, it’s surprising to find that New Jersey operators are paying the game very little respect. In fact, a quick examination of the tournament schedules across today’s three top online poker networks in the Garden State reveals that very few quality PLO tournaments are being played on a daily basis with only two guaranteed PLO events offered weekly.
PLO at Borgata Poker
Borgata Poker only hosts one daily PLO tournament with a guaranteed prize pool, and another that occurs only on weekdays. The daily PLO starts at 12:45pm as a $5 buy-in, $500 GTD PLO Hyper Turbo with starting stacks of 500 chips. The Mon-Fri PLO tourney features a $10 buy-in with re-buys and add-ons, a 6-Max format and $750 GTD, taking place at 8:15pm Mon-Fri.
PLO at Party Poker NJ
Although Borgata Poker and Party Poker NJ run on the same Party Borgata online poker network, the tournament schedules aren’t precisely aligned. At Party Poker NJ, there are two PLO events on the menu. A $20 PLO runs at 3:40pm every Mon-Sat with $1,000 GTD, and a second runs Mon-Fri for $10 with $500 GTD.
PLO at 888Poker NJ
The All American Poker Network (AAPN) by 888 offers just one daily PLO tournament, and it’s the least attractive in the mix. With a $10 buy-in, it features just $250 GTD in the prize pool. The miniscule amount is understandable since the online poker room is only generating an average of 75 concurrent players, and PLO is still far behind Texas Holdem in popularity, but considering the miniscule guarantees this network has become famous for, it’s no wonder why the population is so low compared to Party Borgata and WSOP, both of which attract nearly twice as many players.
PLO at WSOP NJ
This is the most surprising one for me. Being the self-proclaimed “most trusted brand in poker”, presenter of the prestigious World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, you would think that of all New Jersey’s online poker rooms, WSOP would throw in some good PLO action. While the poker site does offer the only big weekly guaranteed PLO event – a $27.50 with re-buys, add-ons and a fantastic $2k GTD every Sunday – there are no daily PLO events on the schedule.
I understand that New Jersey’s online poker operators are catering to a relatively small, ring-fenced market, and that PLO might not be popular enough to generate the registrations necessary to meet a larger guarantee, but you have to start somewhere. “Build it and they will come”, so the adage goes. Give players who aren’t experienced in PLO a better reason to try it, and they will surely develop ardor for the game in time.