The Ten Biggest Mistakes Beginners Make in choosing Omaha Starting Hands
Omaha poker is the little brother of Texas Hold’em poker, but is fast growing up to be a big little brother! The origins of Omaha can be traced back to the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada in the 1980’s. The Golden Nugget wanted to brand this format of poker as “Nugget Hold’Em” but the name never stuck. There are rumours that a man from Omaha always sat down at the “Nugget Hold’em” table and people started calling it Omaha as a joke. There is no confirmed information on why it’s called Omaha for certain.
Omaha poker has similarities to Texas Hold’em. Omaha hand rankings are the same and Omaha poker hands are the same but getting there is different. There is a flop, turn and river for community cards, except you get dealt 4 cards, not 2. You must also use 2 cards in your hand, no more, no less. Omaha poker strategy is similar but there are notable differences. The most common and popular format of Omaha poker is Pot Limit Omaha. In Pot Limit Omaha the maximum you are allowed to bet and raise will be the size of the current pot in the middle.
What are the mistakes to avoid if you want to play Omaha poker like the pros?
1. Putting too much value on Omaha starting pairs.
Texas Hold’em is the breeding ground for Omaha poker players and many of the Texas Hold’em poker players who cross the fence bring their Hold’em habits with them. For instance, in Hold’em a high pair is a great starting hand and although not infallible, large pots can be won with them. Players thinking and playing like this turning up at the Omaha poker tables soon lose their chips. When it comes to Omaha starting hands, high pairs just don’t have the same equity in Omaha as they do in Texas. Mid pairs are often played aggressively in Hold’em, but you can’t do that in Omaha, they will go nowhere. If you play them at all you tread lightly and get out early unless you have a really great draw, which just isn’t likely with middle pairs. If you raise with those middle pairs and even top pairs the chances are you are throwing your chips down a rabbit hole.
2. Omaha starting hands and folding too much.
When playing Omaha, the equities of you and your opponents’ hands are frequently going to be similar. Equities are a given percentage or value that your hand has. If your opponents are forcing you to fold your equity, you are likely to be frequently folding winning hands. You need to think carefully about your Omaha starting hands. You don’t want to be entering too many pots, especially without an ace in your hand, but you can’t afford to be pushed out of or all of them or you will never win a hand. This is a typical mistake by a player who comes from Texas Hold’em ot Omaha with a tight / passive mentality.
3. Not being aggressive and fold equity in Omaha poker hands.
In Omaha, the equities of all hands run more closely together than in Hold’em. A lot of a player’s edge and the pots to be won are from fold equity. Fold equity is a bet that could be a bluff or it could be for value but you are gaining chips simply by making your opponent’s fold to your aggression. If you play passively you will lose out on this equity. You need to know when to be aggressive, being randomly aggressive without having worked out your opponent’s play will be problematic. But choosing who you play against and making strong plays are what will win you chips at the end of the day. But don’t forget you need to know the Omaha hand rankings if you want to learn how to win at Omaha.
4. Not understanding blocker cards in Omaha Poker.
You might be wondering, what are blocker cards? Understanding blocker cards is an important part of Omaha poker strategy. Blocker cards are cards that block or reduce the chance of your opponent’s holding certain cards. A good example would be when there is 3 cards to a flush on the community cards and you are holding the Ace of that suit. You now have the knowledge that it is not possible for anyone else to have the best flush or strongest hand if a flush does come.
Having blockers cards can allow you to put pressure on your opponents and create an ideal situation to bluff. It helps if you understand Omaha poker hands. Your opponent’s cannot have the strongest hand, so you can put them to the test and see what they’re made of. For instance, you hold the Ace of hearts, and there are three hearts on the board. Your opponent doesn’t know if you have the Ace and another heart, or no hearts. What he does know is that he doesn’t have the ace so even if he has a flush he cannot afford to call you if you bet aggressively. For all he knows you do have two hearts and the one of them is the Ace.
5. Chasing bad draws / not playing the best starting hands in Omaha Poker.
Everyone gets dealt 2 extra cards, everyone’s hand is twice as strong in Omaha poker as it is in Texas Hold’em poker. This makes chasing weak straight and flush draws a bad idea. There is a term called reverse implied odds. Reverse implied odds are the opposite of implied odds. Implied odds would refer to you holding a flush draw and you have implied odds to call a bet because if you hit your draw you will likely win a big pot. Reverse implied odds mean when you hit your draw you have implied odds to lose a big pot. For instance the reverse odds are the based on the amount you are likely to lose if you keep playing the hand. Folding Omaha poker hands like these early is a good Omaha poker strategy.
6. Playing in Omaha games with a very high rake.
Most people familiar with poker will know how rake is incorporated into the game. Rake is how the casino, host or poker site makes money from hosting a poker game. They will take a certain amount of money or chips from each pot that is taken past the first round of betting. Depending on the stakes of the Omaha game and where you are playing will affect how much the game is being raked for.
Omaha is notorious for having very high rake. Knowing what is the best starting hand in Omaha doesn’t help you here. You may find yourself in a game of players where the game will be impossible to get an edge high enough to beat the rake. Poker is a game where you are trying to outsmart your opponents, it is a game of skill where huge edges are possible. But, if the rake is too high, no one at the table can gain an edge high enough to beat the rake. Then there are no winners at the game apart from the host.
7. Playing in an Omaha game that is too tough.
You need to be honest with yourself and your abilities when you are at an Omaha table. Sometimes it can be a fun challenge to play on a table against strong opponents. But you are going to lose money against better players. Knowing Omaha poker hands won’t be enough. Better players have more experience than you do and are able to play their cards better than you can. Of course this can be good because you will only get better by playing against opponents better than you, and we all want to get better.
If your only goal is the challenge of outsmarting and beating strong players that is fine, but be prepared to lose money. If your goal is to win as much money as possible, move to a softer Omaha table with worse players and you will earn more money. Once you have gained more experience, you can then beat those tougher games.
8. Letting the swings of variance affect your play and choice of Omaha starting hands.
Omaha is a game where you will be getting all of your chips in the middle and be involved in many big pots. Even if you have a decent advantage at the table, you are bound to go through periods of losing every pot. It doesn’t make a difference that you know the best starting hand in Omaha. You keep on trying with the Omaha best starting hands but get beaten. You get your hand in as the favorite many times and end up losing. This is called down-swinging and can happen in any form of poker. Even knowing how to win at Omaha doesn’t help. You can win or lose a lot in Omaha in a very short period of time and you need to have a strong mindset to overcome these swings . In any form of poker it is important not to be affected by the lows and even by the highs too much. Try and remain neutral in your emotions no matter what happens at the table and you have less chance of being put on tilt by losing pots. Then you have a better chance of learning how to win at Omaha.
9. Not having a sufficient bankroll.
A bankroll is a set amount of money you have to play in the Omaha games of your choosing. All games of poker should be played smartly and with a sufficient bankroll that can handle the swings and variance of normal play.
In Omaha, this is even more important as the swings and variance are much greater than other forms of poker. A recommended bankroll for Omaha cash games would be between 20-100 Buy-ins for the stakes you are playing if you are playing cash games, and a similar amount if you are buying in to tournament games.
10. Playing weak hands when you should be sticking to the best starting hands in Omaha.
There are many Omaha starting hands that can appear like a strong hand. But on further evaluation, they are terrible hands. A good example would be holding 3 of a kind in your hand, the first reaction is, great I have trips! But remember in Omaha you can only use 2 of the 4 cards in your hand, meaning there is only 1 card in the deck that will help you out now.
Playing 4 cards of 1 suit can look appealing at first, especially if they are somewhat connected to form part of a straight. But actually this is not good. Having 4 of 1 suit means you are blocking the cards that you need to make your flush from appearing on the community cards. It also means you are not able to hit or chase other draws as your hand will only be drawing to flushes. Having 2 flush draws in your hand is better than 1. And best of all is AAKK double suited. So get as close to that as a starting hand and you will do well. Think carefully about the Omaha starting hands you are playing and don’t waste time with weak hands or hands with poor drawing potential.
Omaha is a thrilling poker game that has been predicted to be the poker game of the future. Omaha gains popularity every year with more cash games and tournaments being played in the Pot Limit Omaha format. One of the main reasons for its growing popularity is its appearance to Texas Hold’em, but with a lot more action. Texas Hold’em can have plenty of action, but as the game progresses and the prize pools increase, there can be long periods with tight and boring game play. In Omaha, boring game play is rare. It’s a more exciting ride, but you don’t want to be throwing your money away.
Don’t Play Omaha like you would Texas Hold’em. If you want to learn now to win at Omaha and play poker like the pros think of it as a different game. Some skills may transition over, but you could find yourself making some major errors treating the games as the same. Keep a level head and be honest with yourself. Don’t play in games too big or games too tough while you are still new. Practice at the lower stakes where there are softer games which you will have a much higher chance of winning. Never stop learning. Even when you think you know it all, you don’t. In poker there is always room for improvement.
If you want to play Omaha with other beginners at a low risk game, look up Boom poker club (Australia’s largest online club with well over 1000 players, with a poker jackpot of $4,000) on facebook; or for instructions on how to enter the game email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Note; The authors of Beginners Omaha Poker have no commercial connection to Boom poker club.
And if its Texas Holdem poker you are wanting to learn about, look at this great site; How to play Texas Holdem Poker.