Omaha - Strategy

In this article about strategies, the focus will be on Omaha High, not Omaha Hi/Lo. Yet, many of the strategies that are explained here works in both variants.

Starting hands - the importance of coordination

In Omaha, you will be given four cards that are matched against another five (the community cards on the table), which are as much as nine cards all together. In spite of this fact, you shouldn't treat your hole cards as abundance. If two of the cards are good, it doesn't make it a first-class hand.

There are exceptions, but remember the general rule that all the cards together must form a well coordinated hand before it’s suitable to play. How good is, for example, this hand: A♥A♣4♦7♠? There are two aces, but not much more. Hands like this is very limited in regard to development, and a pair of aces will seldom be enough to win a pot in Omaha, at least not a big one. The nearest possibility for this hand is making a set with another ace. In Omaha, however, trips often loses. The other chances for this hand is bleak: the chances for a straight are almost non-existing, and a flush cannot be made (see Omaha rules).

The conclusion is that you shouldn’t overestimate hands that contains strong parts, but doesn’t form a strong unity.

Let us instead look at this hand: A♥A♣J♥T♣. This hand contains two aces and a lot more. Besides the possibility of a set, there are also chances for the highest possible straight (T-A) plus two possibilities for the nut flush (hearts and clubs).

What you wish for are starting hands that 1) includes two pairs and/or 2) offer many possibilities to make a straight or a flush or a combination of these. You should, however, be cautious with low pairs and low straight and flush draws. With a low pair you can hit a set but lose against higher trips. The same matter is it with low connected and suited, the risks are that your opponent hit a higher straight or flush. All these situations tend to be expensive.

After the flop - good timing and minimum of bluffing

There are some fundamental guidelines to be aware of after the flop:

1. Play aggressive when you have the best hand. This is necessary to prevent players with draws to call for free. You want to force them to pay more than the odds allow. If you play Omaha pot limit, the best bet is very often the maximal. There are some exceptions. If you hit a full house on the flop, your interest is probably not to drive away all players from the pot immediately, if not the chances for someone beating your full house is big enough.
2. Only call when it’s fully motivated. Single pairs and even two pairs are seldom worth calling bets with. It is often a good idea to be reluctant from calling if you have a drawing hand that can be beaten if you make the hand. For example, if you try to hit a straight when there are possibilities that another player can make a flush.
3. Since every player has four hole cards, there’s often some that have hopes for the next card and therefore will call a bet. These circumstances make bluffing less effective and you should bluff rarely. As a consequence, the bluff may be most effective when all the community cards already are on the table and especially if your bluff represent a straight or flush.

These guidelines are mostly based on games at full tables. If you play on shorthanded tables, it's advisable to modify these guidelines some. On a shorthanded table you can call with some more hands and bluffs can be used more often.

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