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Omaha Strategy

Omaha’s different rules give a whole new complexion to the game. Texas Hold’em players often find themselves much weaker in Omaha games, not least because there are so many notional hands in play. When each player has several options of hands, the average winning hand becomes much stronger — essentially, it’s going to take the nuts or something incredibly close to it to have confidence of winning the hand.

With this in mind, there are a number of specific Omaha strategies you need to be deploying to get the most out of your game.

Keep Tight Out of Position

When you’re out of position, keep your hands as tight as you can, and fold often. You need the nuts or as close to it as you can find when you’re playing Omaha — remember, every player can make a number of hands from the cards available, so you need to be looking at a very strong hand to be in with a chance come showdown. When you are out of position, you are at a significant disadvantage already, as the first mover in every street.

That means other players can read your game and respond to your betting actions, making it less likely that you will finish up in a strong position at the end of the round. Keep your hands very tight and only play when you’re on a good hand, to preserve your bankroll and wait for the best opportunities to arise.

Don’t Fixate On Good Texas Hold’em Hands

AAJ7 isn’t a good hand in Omaha. Most players who turn their hand to Omaha do so through the prism of No Limit Texas Hold’em hands, so they tend to feel excited when they are looking at a high pair. But given the multiple number of hands in play with each seat at the table, this is a much, much weaker starting hand than it might otherwise be. A classic mistake is to bet up good hold’em hands on the strength of a pair that just can’t come good.

Instead, you ideally want hands that can go several ways to make a winning hand, and the closer to the nuts, the better. The effect of playing Omaha with a full table is similar to playing dozens of simultaneous hands in Texas Hold’em — so you’re not going to cut it with a pair. The more versatile your hands relative to the flop, the more outs you have available that are going to see you win the hand.

Bet Good Hands

The nuts is forever changing with every draw, so when you land a good draw, you need to pounce. Raise the pot. Don’t allow your opponents to continue through the game for free when you already have the nuts — this is nonsensical. They might get the nuts and screw you over, so make them pay to stay in the game. This will thin the field to those already sitting on stronger hands, or those without the strategy to duck out when the cards don’t suit.

It’s in your interests to lock down on a good position in Omaha. The longer players stay in the game, the more chance they have that the nuts will eventually fall to them. By betting aggressively on strong hands, you can shift control of the hand in your favour.

Don’t Pay off Losing Hands

If you’re not sitting pretty in Omaha, the worst thing you can do is pay off your losing hands. This is the biggest leak you will see in Omaha play, where players choose to back hands all the way just to see if the cards eventually turn in their favour. Because variance in Omaha is so much more volatile than in Texas Hold’em, you might win some of these gambles along the way.

But it’s not a sustainable strategy with so many theoretical hands in play, and when you’re looking to draw to the nuts, it’s often difficult to find yourself in the wrong position come the end of the hand. Refuse the payoff — it’s your money. By conserving resources when you’re unlikely to win, you can play on for longer to cover more dead-cert opportunities for taking a profit.