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Old 06-06-11, 16:31   #1
wildcard
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: Dublin
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Omaha Strategy for Beginners

Here is the best strategy guide I have found for beginners in Omaha (shortened to 30k characters).

If someone has a link to a post of a similar standard for holdem I would appreciate a link via PM.


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Omaha Strategy

Pot-Limit Omaha centers on two things: building the nut hand, and position. The first point is obvious. The hands are strong in Pot-Limit Omaha, so you want to be able to hold the best hand. Most Pot-Limit Omaha games do not go to a showdown. When they do, more than likely one player has the nuts or was drawing to the nuts. When two players have strong made hands against each other, generally one has the nut hand or second-nut and the other player also has a near nut hand. An example would be a board with AQ554. One player could have AAxx and the other player might have QQxx. If a player called a huge bet on this board with 23xx, they would be a fool. While this straight would be a strong hand in Hold'em, it would be a very weak hand for this board in Omaha.

Omaha's emphasis on building the nut hand greatly changes starting hand selection. In order to hit the nuts or near nuts, you need hands that coordinate well with themselves. When the board comes, you want to be able to build the nuts in multiple ways. You want to be able to build nut straights, nut flushes, and big full houses. This way, even if say your straight is now vulnerable to a flush, you might also have a full house draw. You do not want hands that will be vulnerable to becoming the second best hand. If a hand is ill-coordinated, there is a good chance it will hit the flop decently. However, it could easily be outdrawn on further streets, and you will have little chance of redrawing again to the best hand. So when evaluating your preflop Omaha hand, here are some tips:

•High pocket pairs are good. This is because they have the chance at building a big full house. If you do not hit a set with a big pair, the pair is essentially worthless.

•Connecting cards are helpful. A hand like JT98 is a very good Pot-Limit Omaha hand because it affords the player with so many straight opportunities. Holding JT98 is far superior to holding QJ56 because you can build many multi-way straight possibilities with JT98. However, you cannot with QJ56.

•Suited cards should be treated with caution. One can call and draw to an ace high flush. However, drawing to any non-nut flush can be very foolish. Having non-ace high suited cards is only helpful for redraws, multiple draws (i.e. also having a straight draw), or back-door flush draws. One should never draw to just a flush that is not a nut flush.

•Low and mid pocket pairs are close to worthless. A hand like 5588 belongs in the muck. Even if you hit a set, you can easily lose to a higher set, straight, or flush.

Another central concept to Pot-Limit Omaha is position. Omaha is all about position. There are several reasons for this. First, free cards are death in Omaha. If you are in early position, you will almost always have to bet your hand, even if you hold the nuts. For example, if the board is 567 and you hold 899A, you definitely have to bet. Someone could too easily draw to a full house, flush, or perhaps even a higher straight. Because of this, people in early positions tend to give away their hands. People in late position can much more easily bluff at pots because they can be fairly certain that people in early posiitons do not have a hand, and people in late position can sometimes earn themselves extremely valuable free cards.

Because of this, there is little reason to raise preflop out of position. Even if you hold A A J 10 , you should still limp in early position. Only in late position should you raise preflop, and you should raise not so much to knock people out but to build a pot. Of course, if you hold a pair of aces in early position and someone has raised behind you, a re-raise may be in order. Only do this if you would be close to all-in after the reraise. Giving away your hand is a recipe for disaster at Omaha. However, the re-raise trick with a pair of aces is a good move to make if you would be close to all-in. You will almost always be a statistical favorite with this move, which is all you can really ask for in a game as crazy as Pot-Limit Omaha.

At the low-limit Omaha Hold'em games, there is easy money if you have the patience. Usually, these games are filled with players who are playing far too loose because everyone thinks that their two-pair is a great hand. The best strategy is to play hands that do well in multi-way pots and bet hard when you have the nuts. Please note: this article is intended for beginners playing low-limit Omaha games where the play tends to be loose and passive. It is not intended for more serious Omaha games.

Starting hands

In longhanded Omaha there really isn't any such thing as a "dominant hand" preflop. You could get two Aces and two Kings and still easily get beat. However, that isn't to say that you should call to the flop with just anything. You should still play good hands, although now there are many types of good hands, hands that become dominant after the flop hits. So, although some hands are better than others, the implied odds will have a huge effect on what hands you are playing in hyper-loose environment of low-limit Omaha.
The best starting hands in low-limit Omaha are hands where you hit two pair and your draw, for example K Q J 10 . (A great flop would be Q J 3 .) Those hands are a bit rare, so another good hand in a loose game would just be a hand with a lot of drawing possibilities. If you are expecting a multi-way pot, then it is important to be drawing to the nuts. In other words, you want to draw to an Ace-high flush, not a 9-high flush. Also, you don't want to draw toward straights if you have low cards and are likely to end up at the low end of the straight.

You may wish to simply call preflop with drawing hands so as to not scare away the loose-passive players. This way you also risk less if you don't hit your draw. However, if you hold a hand which has strength in high cards, such as A A K J , then you should raise. You should also raise with several drawing possibilities to build up the pot, if you feel that people are staying in too much for big pots.

Hands with only a high pair can sometimes be played. Play AAxx, KKxx definitely; with AAxx you should raise if you think you can knock people out and get the hand heads-up or 3-way. You may experiment with QQxx but that is very borderline. A set would be nice, but sets aren't so great in Omaha since someone can easily draw a flush or straight on you. With high pairs you really want to hit a high full house, and rob someone who thinks their lower full house is the high-hand. The main reason high pairs are much less valuable than in Texas Hold'em is because having an Overpair on the flop is worthless in Omaha. Most likely someone else has a two-pair.

Flop play

In general, you want to fold any hand unless you have top 2 pair or a draw to the nuts or near-nuts (for example a King-high flush). These requirements can be relaxed a bit if the game is shorthanded: you can draw to slightly lower straights/flushes. However, you still don't want to be calling with one pair.
If there is a pair on board and you don't have trips, then do not draw. Most likely someone has the trips and you're unlikely to semibluff people out of the pot. If you call and hit your draw, you may be beat by a full house!
Semi-bluffs are only useful if you can think you can win outright. However, in many loose low-limit games you will get called to showdown by multiple players. In this case, you don't want to semi-bluff that much. Maybe throw in one or two for deception, but try to avoid it otherwise.

Two pair and sets are troublesome if there is a draw on board. With several people in hand, there may be so many outs against you that you will probably lose the hand! Try to go for a check-raise and punish people for drawing. However, be prepared to fold at the turn if a draw (or two!) hits and you think you are beat. If you hit your full house, you can try slowplaying (if you have the nut full house) and hope someone hits their straight or flush. However, don't overdo the slowplay, you should only do it if you really can't be hurt by the river card, and be more inclined to slowplay if the opponents fall for it often and if you have position. If you find your opponents to be call-stations then go ahead and bet on the turn anyway. If your opponents are new at Omaha and they think their Ace-flush is the nut hand when the board is paired, you don't want to slowplay. Often times these players will cap out against you on the turn and river despite the full house possibility showing!
However, please note that full house is not even guaranteed to be high-hand. It is quite common to see one full house beat by another at an Omaha game. Generally, you have a low full house if your trip is lower than the board pair, and you are probably safe to win if your trip is higher than the board pair. The best way to tell if your full house is the best hand is by paying attention to your opponents betting sequence. With a low full house, you may consider trying to encourage a bluff by checking and calling instead of betting out, on a fraction of your hands.

Turn play

If you hit your flush or straight by the turn you definitely should bet hard, and even check-raise if you are certain someone will bet (But bet outright if you have any doubt). There could easily be a set or two pair out against you and they could make their full house on the river. Make sure they don't get a free card here.

River play

Often times the board will have no straight or flush showing and you think your two pair or set is the high hand. Then a scare card will hit on the river. If this happens, you may want to check down the river. After all, if you get check-raised, you are doubling the amount of money you have put into the hand. It depends on how many opponents are still in the hand and how they played it, but in a multi-way pot, checking is usually the right move. However, if your opponent rarely check-raises, or if he has played the hand like he had two pair, then you may consider betting.

If you are on the other side of the coin, and you hit your hand on the river, you may want to bet out instead of check-raising, because your opponent may check it down. I usually mix-up whether I bet or check-raise in that situation, depending on what I think my opponent has, but also to add deception and uncertainty. It is important to make your opponents fear the check-raise so that they are afraid to bet on the river, letting you see some showdowns more cheaply.

Introduction

Pot-Limit Omaha is one of the most popular cash games played in casinos across Europe today. It has made significant headway in tournament games and, in fact, bigger tournaments host Pot-Limit Omaha events a couple of times throughout the year. Omaha is one of the fastest growing types of poker today and is played far more in Europe than in the United States.
Pot-Limit Omaha is a very strategic game, involving a great deal of skill and discipline, and requires that players are able to balance many concepts simultaneously. This article aims to help beginner and intermediate players improve their Pot-Limit Omaha game by playing in a solid, tight aggressive style. It advocates balancing bluffs and semi-bluffs with (mostly) solid play, and focuses on pre-flop and flop play since these are the most important betting rounds. The game rapidly becomes complex and more challenging to analyse when you reach the turn and river. However, if you play correctly pre-flop and on the flop, you will face less difficult situations on the turn and river.
#As in all forms of poker there are exceptions to the rules and, as such, the concepts laid out in this article should be understood as general guidelines. In order to be a truly successful player, it is imperative that you are able to use your judgement when determining the best possible play. It is virtually impossible to provide clear-cut advice applicable to all situations.


A Comparison: Pot-Limit Omaha vs. Texas Hold'em

1.More players will see the flop in Omaha. The advantage of good starting hands over worse ones is not as great in Omaha. This encourages people to see more flops in Omaha than in Hold'em. It also creates bigger pots, making your decisions on the flop even more crucial.

2.You need a stronger hand to win at Omaha. The hands that typically win the pot in Hold'em, such as top pair with top kicker and overpairs, do not win it very often in Pot-Limit Omaha. In Omaha, the best hands are those that are made and hold additional value, like top set with a big draw. When the money goes into the middle in Pot-Limit Omaha someone is usually holding the nuts.

3.Omaha is a more hand driven game. There are not as many opportunities to bluff in Omaha. This is due to the fact that there are more players seeing the flop and more combinations of hands to be made. When a pair is on the board someone is likely holding a full house, when a flush or straight is possible someone is likely to hold it, and so forth.

4.Giving free cards is generally a bad play in Omaha. First of all, because the pots are usually bigger on the flop, it makes more sense to try and win the pot right there. Second of all, your hands are much more likely to get action because of the greater drawing possibilities. And, finally, it is very probable that a free card could beat your hand.

5.Position is less important in Omaha. Although position is very important in all forms of poker, it is less important in Omaha. More players are in on the flop and it is hard to pick up a pot by betting when checked-to in late position. As a result, it is usually the player holding the best hand that wins the pot.

6.Tight players are less likely to be "bullied" in Omaha. In Hold'em, tight players can easily be bullied out of pots when the flop comes with low cards. However, in Omaha, because a tight player can play hands such as 8-7-6-5, J-J-5-4 or 8-8-7-7 with little difficulty, it is harder to push them around. The pondering bully can never be positive that you do not hold the nuts on a flop like 7-6-3, while, in Hold'em, he would be almost certain that you do not.

Pot-Limit

In Pot-Limit Omaha, you want to protect your hands by making pot-sized bets and raises until you are a big favourite, at which point you put all your money in the middle. You want to have the best possible hand and/or draw when all the money goes in. In Pot-Limit, the pots increase quickly and you must be able to determine the amount you can bet on the turn, if you expect to get called on the flop.

Generally, there is no reason to bet or raise less than the size of the pot when playing Pot-Limit Omaha. You might do this on specific occasions, like when betting into an opponent with the second-nut flush on the river and the pot is very big, or if you want a call on the river and you bet the amount you think your opponent will call. However, while it is entirely dependent on the player and the situation, most of the time it is best to bet and raise the size of the pot.

Top Advice and Common Mistakes

Pot-Limit Omaha Top Advice

1.Be very selective with your starting hands: nothing is more important than choosing the correct starting hand for a certain situation.

2.Table selection: only play in games where you have an edge. You want at least a couple of weak players at the table when you sit down.

3."Play the players": be sure to quickly assess the opposition: who plays inferior hands, who folds at aggression, who bets with draws, who calls big bets with weak hands and draws, who can be bluffed, who bluffs, etc.

4."Pump it or dump it": fold or bet/raise (if the odds are with you). You should avoid calling unless you have a good reason (such as trapping an opponent or increasing your pot odds when you are on a big draw).

5.Respect most big bets and raises: this is particularly true in Pot-Limit Omaha since most players do not bluff.

6.Do not get "married" to the nut flush draw: the difference between drawing to the nut flush in Omaha as compared to Hold'em is that in Hold'em you can usually win the pot by pairing your Ace or win the pot with a flush even though the board pairs. The same is not true in Omaha.

7.Do not get "married" to an eight way straight draw: in Omaha, it is possible to flop 13-way, 17-way and 20-way straight draws. It is best to wait until you hold one of these draws before you heavily involve yourself in the pot.

8.Do not overplay unsuited Aces: when all you hold are a pair of Aces and two unsuited, unconnected rags, there is little you can flop to improve your hand. If you do not flop an Ace, you will usually end up with a weak holding.

9.Bet your best drawing hands: enhance the deception in your game by betting your strong draws, as you will also win more pots without a fight.

10.Always draw to the nuts in multi-way pots: when all the money goes into the middle in multi-way pots, be sure to draw to the nuts. Avoid committing all your money with draws without additional value as you can find yourself trapped between a set and the nut flush draw, maybe leaving you with only a nut straight draw that might end up in a split pot if you hit.



The Trap Hands

Trap hands are hands that seem very good but can easily make you a second-best hand. These are the types of hands than can cause you to lose your whole stack. There are three types of trap hands in Pot-Limit Omaha:

1.The Small Pair Hands

2.The Low Wrap Hands

3.The Small Flush Hands

1.Hands with pairs below Nines are dangerous to play. When you flop a set it is very hard to escape the hand and, if you are up against a bigger set, you are drawing to one out. When you hold a hand like #6s-#6h-#5s-#4h and the flop comes #Qc-#Jc-#6d, you may find yourself in big trouble. The moment to play small pairs is when you do not have a lot of money in front of you, at this stage it is not as bad to commit your whole stack if you flop a small set. Or, for example, when you have something like A-A-2-2 or K-K-3-3, then you should play in the hopes of flopping the big set. However, you must always think twice before you commit a lot of money with bottom set on the flop.

2.The types of hands that are very deceptive and dangerous to play are the lower four connected hands, like #5s-#4c-#3s-#2c. These hands are dangerous because it is too simple to flop or draw to the low-end of a straight. When the flop comes 8-7-6 with this type of hand, you can easily find yourself up against a bigger straight, drawing dead.

3.Hands that can only make small flushes are risky hands. For example, let us again look at the #5s-#4c-#3s-#2c on a flop of #Ks-#Js-#8s. This will give you a small flush. You cannot commit a lot of money with this hand and, if you were to get any action at all, you would most likely be beat.

Limping or Raising Before the Flop
In Pot-Limit Omaha, no matter what you hold, your opponent's hand will almost always have a decent chance of beating your hand. For example, being dealt an A-A-K-K double suited is 50,000:1 (against) and that hand is just a 3:2 favourite to win against 8-7-6-5 double suited. As such, the question arises as to whether or not you should raise when you hold a good starting hand.
What about only raising when you hold Aces? The problem with this strategy is that you become too predicable, as people will know exactly where you are and will not likely make mistakes against you.

How about always limping in? This is better than just raising with Aces though it is still not an optimal strategy. Whenever you bet, raise or call on the flop, your opponents will also have a good idea of what type of hand you hold. If you never raise pre-flop, you do not make other limping players pay enough to see the flop for those times when you hold a strong starting hand. Also, you will not be picking up as many pots as when you play with a raising strategy.
By raising with a variety of hands pre-flop, you will gain numerous advantages: you become unpredictable, you pick up more pots, you make opponents pay when you are likely to have the best hand, and you obtain more bluffing opportunities. Another advantage is that it is more fun to play according to this strategy. In light of all this, it becomes clear that a strategy combining both raising and limping with a variety of hands is the best.

What hands to raise with

A good pre-flop raising strategy is to raise with any of the top 30 hands mentioned above, all of which hold at least one suit and most that don't, though this is not entirely sufficient and you will need to raise with more hands. Add any four cards in a row that are double-suited with cards, Six or higher, and all single and double suited A-K-x-x with at least one x-card, Ten or higher. Hands like Q-J-9-8 or J-T-9-7 double suited are also good to raise with.


What hands to limp with

1.All A-Q-x-x with at least one x-card, Ten or higher, and the Ace being suited.

2.All four in a row combinations, Four or higher.

3.All A-x-x-x anything with at least two x-cards that are connected and the Ace being suited.

4.All four in a row combinations, Five or higher, with a maximum of one gap that is not between the top and bottom three cards in the hand.

Flop Play

General Flop Advice

Whether or not you were the pre-flop raiser makes a big difference in the way you play your hand. If you were the pre-flop raiser and the pot is shorthanded, strongly consider betting-out even though your hand did not improve. However, you should always consider what type of flop hit. For example, if it is three handed and you raised with two bare Aces and the flop comes Q-J-T with a flush draw that you do not hold in your hand. This is a good opportunity to check and let the other two players fight for the money. But, if the flop is Q-7-3 with no flush draw, you should bet-out. This adds an element of deception to your play and enables you to pick up more pots. In addition, you will get more action when you do hit a great hand on the flop, since betting-out does not necessarily mean you hold anything substantial. Basically, you should never slow play any hand when you hit your hand hard on the flop, especially because giving free cards in Omaha comes with a much higher risk than it does in Hold'em.

Two Pair

Two pair is a difficult hand to play in Omaha. This is because it is a strong hand but not strong enough that you feel completely comfortable committing all your money with it. In general, you must have at least top two pair to give action on the flop. There are too many ways you can be beat or will end up outdrawn if you commit a lot of money with top and bottom two pair or bottom two pair. If there are straight and/or flush draws on the board and you are called, use your judgement when deciding whether to bet again on the turn. Always consider the type of opponent you are up against. If you think your opponent will continue to draw, you should bet in an effort to shut him out. In Omaha, when someone just calls on the flop that player is generally on a draw, though in some cases they hold bottom set or a weak two pair that they do not want to release on the flop. Bottom two pair and top and bottom two pair are not worth playing on the flop, essentially. It is better to have a big draw to the nuts than to hold this type of hand. The most dangerous aspect of these hands is that you can trap yourself for all your money. This usually happens when you hit a full house on the turn and that same card gives someone else a bigger full house.

Sets

Since the playing style suggested in this article warns against playing small pairs, you should not find yourself in many situations where you are up against a bigger set. If you were the pre- flop raiser, almost always bet-out on the flop if you hit a set. It is seldom wrong to bet-out with top set in a short-handed pot, even though the board looks scary. Remember that anytime you flop a set, you have about a 34% chance of improving to a full house on the turn and river combined. For example, if you pre-flop raised holding K-K-7-6 double suited and the flop comes K-J-9 with a flush draw that you do not have, bet-out and be prepared to get action. The other players will have to hold a Q-T-x-x with the flush draw in order to feel comfortable moving in against you.
Some players only raise with Aces and, if one of these players raised pre-flop and an Ace flops, you can put them on top set right away. This is especially true if they limped in from an early position and then re-raised the pot after it had been raised behind them. These players will almost always be holding Aces.

Straight Draws

In Omaha you will flop many kinds of straight draws. What you want to flop are so-called wrap around straight draws. This happens when the flop comes with two cards that connect and you have cards that surround these two cards. Let us look at a few examples:

1. Hand: Q-J-8-x Flop: T-9-x Outs: 17 (wrap around)

2. Hand: J-8-7-x Flop: T-9-x Outs: 17 (wrap around)

3. Hand: K-Q-J-x Flop: T-9-x Outs: 13

4. Hand: 8-7-6-x Flop: T-9-x Outs: 13

5. Hand Q-J-8-7 Flop: T-9-x Outs: 20 (double wrap around)

It is better to have more overcards than undercards because you will be drawing to a bigger straight. This is why Hand 1 is stronger than Hand 2 and Hand 3 is stronger than Hand 4. Situations will arise when Hand 1 and Hand 2 move all-in on the flop. In this case, Hand 2's strength will diminish considerably, leaving it in bad shape.

You should bet the majority of your big draws on the flop. You do this for two reasons: because you can win the pot immediately (semi-bluff) and because it adds deception to your game. If you play in this manner, your opponents will not know whether you are betting a made hand or a draw.
If you flop a 13-way straight draw to the nuts without any possible flush draws, you are going to get involved in the pot. With 13 nut outs, you have an approximate 29% chance of hitting the nuts on the turn and a 50% chance of hitting on the turn and river combined. Therefore, if an opponent bets the size of the pot, you should call or raise depending on the situation and the player.

The Turn

The turn is generally a time for making big decisions. Should you bet again? Should you re-raise the maximum? Should you fold or call? This depends on many factors (too many to address here), though there are some general guidelines that can be followed. If you hold the nuts, you bet on the flop and, if you still hold the nuts on the turn, you usually should bet the maximum again. Your opponent is likely to be drawing and you want to shut him out or charge him the maximum for attempting to outdraw you. If you hold a minimum of 13 outs to beat whatever your opponent might be holding, it is appropriate to call a pot-sized bet on the turn, though only if both you and your opponent have money left on the river. With 13 outs, you are slightly less then 2:1 (13/44=29.5%) against improving and those are the exact odds the pot is laying you in this case. Because of the implied odds when there is more money left to win, a call is correct.

The River

If you hold the nuts, contemplate what your opponent might possibly hold and try to squeeze out the maximum. If you missed your draw, you must either give up or try a big bluff in case a scare card hits. A lot of judgement is needed when the pot is big and you hold a good hand but not the nuts. You must consider what your opponent is capable of. Will he try to run a bluff if checked to? Or will he also check? Do you dare to value bet with a good hand that is not the nuts?
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Old 06-06-11, 16:42   #2
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PLO Cash Games can be viewed on youtube.

Poker After Dark - Season 7 - Episodes 25-36
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Old 04-08-11, 14:18   #3
Joan Digweed
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I am new to Omaha, but thanks to this guide i suppose that my skill will be improved...but i don't clearly understand what should i do at flop play can please anyone explain me once again?
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Old 04-08-11, 14:42   #4
tipp86
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Done quick scan and saw
Quote:
hands to limp with section = fail
Then again i suppose as a pure starter it may be a good guide.

I assume limping hands in omaha = bad as someone who can play it but doesnt seriously.
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Old 04-08-11, 14:54   #5
tylerdurden94
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Hello Joan welcome to the site, I am afraid I had to snip out your signature as we don't allow that kind of link around here.
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