Hold’em is tougher than ever. Of course, the games are still beatable, but it requires a lot of hard work and discipline.
For this reason, many players have turned to the Pot Limit Omaha tables. Hard work is still required. But the average level of competition is noticeably lower than it is in Hold’em.
With a little bit of effort to transition from Hold’em, some highly lucrative poker games could be just around the corner.
Here are our top 10 tips for getting started in the world of Omaha:
- A Game of the Nuts
- 4 Cards That Work Together
- Be Careful with AAxx and KKxx
- We Must Use Two Hole Cards!
- Understand Rundowns
- Understand Wraps
- Use Different Bet Sizings
- The Freeroll Concept
- Expect Variance
- Play Exotic Omaha
A Game of Nuts
Omaha is often referred to as a game of the nuts.
We often need the nuts to be able to stack off postflop.
A strong postflop hand in Hold’em is not necessarily a strong hand in Omaha. Hands like low sets and dominated straights/flushes are big problems for new players.
These hands are often strong enough to play for stacks in Hold’em. But they nearly always end up dominated in Omaha.
Of course, our exact requirements for committing our stack will depend entirely on our stack depth.
The key takeaway?
We need to tighten up our requirements for postflop hands relative to Hold’em.
Four Cards That Work Together
A major change is that we are now dealt four cards preflop instead of two. This feature dramatically transforms what a decent starting hand looks like - compared to Hold’em.
- The first mistake players make is to assume a starting hand like AcKd7s2h is a strong hand. Because AcKd is a solid starting hand in Hold’em.
- AcKd7s2h is a weak holding in Omaha. There is relatively little coordination amongst the four cards.
One of the best starting hands in Omaha is AsAcJsTc.
Notice how all four cards work together here. We have exactly two cards of each suit (known as double suited in Omaha).
Double-suited hands are typically better than single-suited or rainbow starting hands.
Notice also that one card of each suit is the Ace (known as double-suited to the ace). This feature allows us to make nut flushes postflop.
Hands with three-card coordination may sometimes be playable. For example, AsKdQs7c might be playable in late position. The 7c is described as a dangler because it doesn’t connect with the other three cards.
Be Careful with AAxx and KKxx
By far one of the biggest problems for new Omaha players is that they overvalue AAxx and KKxx. These hands are nowhere near as strong in Omaha as they are in Hold’em.
- AAxx with bad side-cards can easily be dominated by an AAxx with better side-cards.
- KKxx, on the other hand, runs into AAxx with a high frequency. It’s no longer considered a bad beat when it happens.
When AAxx misses the flop, it makes a one-pair hand (overpair). Overpairs may sometimes be strong in Hold’em. But they are nearly always quite weak in Omaha.
Targeting players who routinely overplay AAxx postflop can be a great source of profit for experienced Omaha players.
We Must Use Two Hole Cards!
Despite understanding the rules, it’s almost a rite of passage for a new Omaha player to forget the two-hole cards rule.
Check out the following -
An Omaha beginner might assume we have the nut heart flush here since we have the King of hearts in the hole. Unfortunately, we just have a pair of fours.
It’s tempting to assume that we hold a full house, but we really have Three-of-a-Kind Aces.
If Villain has any pocket pair such as 22xx, he will beat us with his ace-full.
A rundown is a starting hand in Omaha where the cards are in consecutive rank order.
For example, T987 is referred to as a ten high rundown. The rundown with the best straight potential is the jack-high rundown JT98.
Most rundowns are not this smooth. They often have gaps. T976 is referred to as a ten high rundown, mid gap because of the gap between the 7 and the 9.
It’s useful to keep in mind the following-
- Higher rundowns are better than lower rundowns since they have better nut potential. Holdings like 5432 have a decent shot at making a dominated straight, which can be problematic in Omaha.
- If a rundown has gaps, it is better that the gaps are towards the bottom of the structure. For example, T986 is better than T876. Gaps toward the top of the structure increase the likelihood of making dominated straights.
- Single gaps are better than double-gaps - T976 is better than T965.
- One gap is better than two-gaps - JT87 is better than JT86.
Wrap is the name given to the big straight draws in Omaha. The biggest straight draw in Hold’em is the open-ender (eight outs). Whereas in Omaha, it’s possible to have a straight draw with 20 outs.
20-out wraps are rare though, the 9-out and 13-out wraps are far more common.
Here are a couple of quick examples, ignoring suits to keep it easy.
9-out Broadway Wrap
Despite holding every card between the ten and ace, we don’t have a straight yet since we can only use two of our hole cards. Holding a ‘fake’ straight like this is a good indication that we have a wrap in Omaha.
Here any jack, queen or king completes the nut broadway straight. There are three outs for each meaning we hold a total of 9 nut outs.
13-out Nut Wrap
Watch out for the above pattern where we have three consecutive cards above the board. It means we hold the 13-out nut wrap.
Let’s list our outs.
8 - 4 outs
T - 3 outs
J - 3 outs
Q - 3 outs
Use Different Bet Sizings
This strategy is straightforward. But even some experienced PLO players don’t quite get it yet. Just because we can bet pot size does not mean that a pot-sized bet is automatically best.
We should avoid the temptation to hammer the pot button. Think carefully about whether our hand prefers a large or small bet-sizing.
This play includes preflop opens as well. No documented proof exists saying that players should always open-raise every starting hand for pot size. That said, many professionals do.
Certain holdings may play more profitably with different open raise sizings.
The Freeroll Concept
The freeroll concept is crucial in Pot Limit Omaha.
Just because we have flopped the nuts in Omaha does not mean that we have the best possible hand. Our opponent might have the same nuts alongside additional redraws.
We call this freerolling.
It is a huge source of profit for observant players.
Let’s see a quick example.
Note that both players have the queen-high nut straight.
Player 1 has what is known as the bare nuts –
- He has no additional redraw component to his hand.
- He should be looking to play cautiously here despite holding the nuts.
Player 2 also has the nuts, but he has several flush and straight redraws.
Let’s take a quick look at how the equities stack up here.
Admittedly we have designed a worst-case scenario. But as we can see, the “nuts” only had around 25% equity on this flop.
We should always pay attention to our redraws and look to freeroll our opponents as much as possible.
Omaha is a lot swingier than Hold’em. (Although this may be evened out slightly due to our larger edge in Omaha games).
We are often going to be getting our entire stack in with a very marginal equity edge. We shouldn’t be discouraged if we end up losing several coin-flips in a row. This result is honestly all part of the fun of Omaha.
Play Exotic Omaha
Players making the switch to Omaha often end up with bigger bankrolls as a reward.
Players who take it one step further and branch out to more exotic Omaha variants such as –
- 5-card PLO
- 6-card PLO and
- Courchevel (similar to 5-card)
- may often end up making even more money. The opposition is even weaker in these variants.