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Omaha Poker Tips

Bodog Poker Tournaments - by, located in San Jose, Costa Rica, From articles on poker strategy to fresh commentary on the burgeoning culture that is poker, 5th Street is the one-stop shop for sharks, little fishies, and everyone in between.

ON THE BUTTON: Omaha On the Rise

If you're stuck on Holdem here are some great reasons and helpful tips for building your bankroll through Omaha

September 20th, 2006 - By Nick Lanteri

So here’s what I’m wondering. Why are you playing Texas Holdem 24/7 when you can get paid off while holding the nuts in Omaha? You read that correctly. Omaha is rising in popularity, and that means more and more loose players are seated at the tables.

David Williams

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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 high:

* 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 Hi/Lo:

* 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 hands.
* 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 mistakes.


Don’t push the panic button prematurely.

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 PLAYERS.

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.

PHOTO: David Williams of Team Bodog Poker

Note: All NFL lines subject to change.

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