If you haven’t
already done it, I advise you to learn Omaha because
it is a major action game, with a slew of new
donkeys just willing to put their money in the
pot with nothing. Now is the time to take advantage
and build your bankroll in Omaha ring games, and
even Omaha hi/lo games.
I can’t believe what
I’m seeing at the cash game Omaha tables.
Players leading out after flopping low two pairs
on board with a pot-sized bet, or check-calling
me to the river with only top pair, top kicker.
But the best is when you flop a higher set over
your opponent, who will almost always pay you
off. The average Omaha player just isn’t
disciplined enough to release the hand, especially
if he or she has made a dangerously low full house
on the turn or river. In some cases, your opponent
will pay you off when holding trips even though
the river card has not paired the board, which
means the nut hand is likely a straight or flush.
Example: We are dealt Jh-Kh-Ac-5c,
double-suited in a $0.50-$1 pot-limit ring game.
This is a fine starting hand because we are holding
three high cards and can make a straight or a
flush. There are a lot of possibilities here,
and calling a raise pre-flop is recommended, unless
we are faced with a raise and re-raise. The flop
is 10c-Qc-4s, giving us an open-ended nut straight
draw and a nut flush draw. Any club gives us the
flush, and any 9 or ace gives us the nut straight.
So we can at the very least call any bet here,
and more likely would raise the pot because we
have so many outs. But remember, Omaha is a redraw
game, so even if we turn the nuts, we must be
prepared to lay the hand down if the board pairs
up on the river. If the 4 of clubs spikes on the
river, that would give us the ace-high flush,
but also would pair the board and now we can check
in position and just be happy to win the pot.
Always remember, the key
to Omaha (in both ring games and tournaments)
is being selective with your starting hands, which
is a very different strategy from Holdem, where
you can bully people off pots because you and
your opponents often miss the flop. Because you
start with four cards in your hand in Omaha (always
using two cards in the hole and three cards on
the community board to make the best hand), it
is important to shoot for the nut straight, the
nut flush or the nut full house. Two pairs and
trips don’t win very often in Omaha, especially
when you normally see 6 or 7 players to the flop
in a low-limit cash game. In limit Omaha, it is
not uncommon to have a family pot. That means
most of the deck is in play, and you probably
will need to hold the nuts to win the hand.
ON THE BUTTON tips for Omaha
Don't raise before the flop unless you are holding
aces or kings and are in position to narrow the
field. Another time to raise is when you are unraised
on the button and have a strong hand. Try not
to let the blinds see bad hands for cheap.
* Be aware
of the nut hand possibilities. As the board develops,
make sure that you always know what the best hand
possibilities are, and how that might change on
the next card.
* Don't over
value low pairs. A pair of fives in your starting
hand is only useful if it flops a set, but then
remember that a low set on the flop is not a very
strong hand in Omaha. It’s a risky play
to continue with the hand if you are getting re-raised.
* Fold trips
in the hole. If you are dealt 10-10-10-7, you
need to fold. Because you can only use two cards
in your hand it is never a good idea to play these
types of hands, unless you have A-A-A-high card
and are suited, which is a playable hand.
In Omaha Hi/Lo the high-hand
winner must split the pot with the player with
the best qualifying low hand. There is always
a high-hand winner but not always a low. For your
hand to qualify for low, it must have five denominations
no higher than an eight. Any two of your four
hole cards are played for high and any two are
played for low. Aces are played both high and
low. Straights and flushes do not disqualify a
hand for low, so a player ending with 5-4-3-2-A
would have an unbeatable low hand and a five-high
straight to play for high. A player with this
hand would have a good chance of winning both
ways. He or she could also have another high hand
better than the straight.
The most important thing
to keep in mind in split-pot games is the big
profit difference between winning half the pot
and "scooping" it all.
It is a lot more than just
twice as much. Scooping the pot usually builds
a healthy addition to your stack of chips. Getting
half often puts you barely ahead of where you
were before you started playing the hand. Omaha
is a game of "nuts.” With so many players
with so many cards, finding so many reasons to
play, a final hand with a fairly good high and
a fairly good low can easily get clobbered by
better hands both ways. So after the flop or maybe
the turn, if it looks like you don't have an almost
certain winner for one end and a decent shot at
the other, or the best high hand with no qualifying
low probable, you should usually fold up and wait
for the next hand.
ON THE BUTTON Tips for Omaha
Remember that you only play to scoop the pot,
so after the flop, if your high hand is not a
certain winner and will probably have to split
with the low, or if you are playing for low and
don't have a decent shot at the high hand, usually
check/fold and get out early.
Usually avoid playing middle suited connectors.
Hands like 8h-9h that are often very playable
in Holdem and Omaha high, are bad news in high-low
split. To make the high end of a straight, you
have to catch the cards that will also qualify
low hands. To play these you also need a suited
ace or an A2.
Don't overbet A2-A3 and 2-3 nut lows. These are
often shared with another player and you can end
up getting "quartered". In other words,
if there are two playing the same nut low and
one going high, you are in a situation where every
bet you make contributes one-third to the pot
that will only pay you one-quarter back. You do
better if you can check around. Fast play in this
situation only makes you money if there are three
or more opponents with either high or losing low
Pay very close attention to your cards. Omaha
Hi/Lo hands can get confusing and it is sometimes
easy to think you have a nut hand winner when
you don't, or have the best possible hand and
not realize it. Be careful to avoid these costly
ON THE BUTTON ‘TIP OF
Don’t push the panic
I see the same mistake over
and over again in No-Limit Holdem tournament play
and it drives me crazy. Players will lose a big
pot, and then go all-in on the very next hand,
even though their chip stack might still be 10
times the big blind. It’s ridiculous. It’s
a donkey move, and it’s usually the only
move the donkey knows, so don’t call him
with nothing and double him up.
Here’s a helpful hint
when you’re shortstacked and in the big
blind, it’s a move that usually works for
me in tournaments, whether it’s live or
online. Let’s say I’m sitting with
2,500 chips left, which is less than half of the
average chip stack in a multi tournament. The
blinds are 400-800 with 100 antes. I pick up K-9
suited. One limper, the small blinds calls, and
now the action is on me. DO NOT GO ALL-IN BEFORE
THE FLOP HERE. YOU ARE ONLY PRICING IN THE OTHER
The flop comes 7-4-2 rainbow.
I missed the flop but I'm sure my opponents did
too because it is such a ragged flop, which I
was hoping for. If the small blind checks I just
go all-in. The reason for this: most players miss
the flop in Holdem, so put your opponents on a
tough decision, INSTEAD of pricing them in before
the flop with a needless, desperate all-in move.
Give it a try next time you find yourself shortstacked
and in the big blind.
David Williams of Team Bodog Poker
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