Introduction; Winning Omaha Poker.
Transitioning to Omaha from Texas Hold’em should be easy at the small stake level which is where you should start. Omaha poker is a mathematically simple game at this simple to play at level. If you can restrict yourself to playing the better quality opening hands, then you will be taking chips off the loose players who want to get in on every hand.
Probabilities of winning.
An interesting fact about Omaha is that you get a high percentage of your final hand early; the hand is often pretty much defined by the flop. You know from here whether you are drawing to a great hand or have a duck. You can end up with a lot of outs, or you can get none. You know what to do. Drawing to the nuts is the favourite. From this point you will usually know your outs, exactly how many cards you need to make the nuts, more so than in Hold’em.
Omaha is a game of information and the probability of winning. And for this what counts is how many cards in which combinations will get you over the line, and against this you work out your pot odds. Get it right and you will come out winning. For instance, if you make a nut flush on the turn and the other player in the hand has a set and there are no other paired cards on the board, there are forty possible river cards. There are ten of those which could pair the board for a full house for the other player and turn your nut flush into a losing hand…. but there are thirty cards which do not pair the board so the nut flush holds. You will therefore win 75% of the time. This is great to know and understand and apply the knowledge to any game.
What matters most in poker is not who is ahead pre-flop or even on the flop, but who has the biggest probability of winning, and this is something you can work out easier with your hand in Omaha than you can in Texas Hold’em. In Omaha you can quickly figure out whether you have twenty or ten or four outs to get the nuts. If you haven’t got the outs, get out. If you have, and the pot odds are right, stay in it. You need to work out how many cards will give you with winning hand, and generally the best winning hand, because in Omaha that’s what it takes. If you make your decisions based on pot odds, you will win in the long run. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the game you are in is the be all and end all of making money. Poker is a long-term percentage game, and if you can play according to the pot odds in every hand, you will be ahead overall, and if you don’t, you will lose money.
How do you know when to play hands.
Starting hands in Omaha are where your chances of winning is based. In Texas Hold’em it was in post flop play that the winning hand was determined, although that has been overtaken now by the pre-flop all in. But in Omaha it’s still the percentage chances of winning, especially in Hi-Lo, that is founded in the starting hand. And if you have a good hand, getting all those players who play rubbish hands and chase to the river with either low outs or low probabilities to put chips in the middle pre-flop is where you will accrue value over time.
Winning at Omaha comes down to a simple formula. Only play good starting hands. If you come from a Texas Hold’em background you might be accustomed to playing starting hands which are a bit random but get there in the end. Its not the same in Omaha. In Omaha poker there is a largish group of hands with will win at double the rate of donkey hands. So only playing good starting hands, and in Omaha 8 this means only playing starting hands with an Ace (because this gives you five cards in your hand instead of four, because the ace can be used for the high or the low, and is the only card which can be used in this way, so immediately your chances of winning increase), is the way to win. And here is the crunch, if you play good starting hands and get unlucky, you can still win. This is the beauty of Omaha.
Winning in Omaha poker is based on the same hand rankings as Texas Hold’em poker, so you will always have a winning high hand. But when it comes to Omaha 8 it’s a different story and these are the things you need to know to win the low half of the pot.
Remember that like the high hand the winning low hand must use two cards from the players hand and three cards from the board. And here is the thing, if you use any two of those cards for the high hand, it is also possible to use the same two or one card for the low hand, or of course both of the other two cards. But this is where the ace in your hand is so important, the same ace can be used to make the high hand and the low hand!!!
A qualifying low hand is five unpaired cards all with ranks of eight or below. Don’t forget the ace is the low card in the low hand, and the high card in the high hand. Flushes and straights are of no use if you are going for a low hand, so forget them except for the high hand. This means for instance that the best possible low hand regardless of suit is A,2,3,4,5. And low hands are counted from the top down, so the hand is only as good as its highest card. For instance, 2,3,4,6,7 is lower than A,2,3,5,8.
What hands don’t win at Omaha Hi-Lo.
What doesn’t count; well, any hand with a pair, or with a card higher than 8 even if the rank of the pair is lower than 8. As mentioned above, suits don’t count towards a low. And if two players have the same low hand, they split the pot. If neither of them makes anything from the high pot, this is known as being quartered. If at the end of the play there is no low hand, the whole pot goes to the winning high hand, but also, a player can win one or both half of the pot with the same or different cards from their hand. Finally, if there is a chip left over at the end of a split, it is given to the person who won the winning high hand.
Omaha is a strategic game which takes poker to a level beyond what you experience in Texas Hold’em. There is plenty of opportunity to make money if you play smart. To do this you choose your starting hands well, try to have an ace in your hand every time, and draw to the nuts. Anything less and you are throwing your chips away. Remember its two cards from your hand and three from the board to make the complete hand. Finally, make sure you read the board properly, its a complicated game and easy to make mistakes in the Hi-Lo version. Good luck.
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 over 1,000 players and a poker jackpot of $4,000) on facebook; or for instructions on how to enter the game email here; firstname.lastname@example.org
Note; The authors of Beginners Omaha Poker have no commercial connection to Boom poker club.