Omaha Poker Strategy
Omaha is a difficult, but at the same time interesting and profitable game. You can play thousands of hands, but without knowing which Omaha poker strategy is right, you will be doing yourself more harm than good.
It's very easy to watch PLO (Pot Limit Omaha) poker professionals play and learn from their game. But the thing is, the pros have invested a lot of time in it and they know when to break the rules and when not to, when to follow the reads and when to just risk the whole stack.
As a beginner, it's not enough to just listen to your intuition. There are certain Omaha poker tips and tactics that must be followed in order for the game to become profitable. When you get to the level of a consistent winner and play thousands of hands, then you can start breaking the rules and hone your skills.
Omaha Strategy Basics
Omaha is considered to be a more dynamic and aggressive game than standard holdem. Although the combinations that can be collected are the same, the approach to games is quite different. Similarly, the short deck poker strategy has important differences from the usual 52-card holdem one.
In the meantime, we suggest that you familiarize yourself with the 5 main Omaha poker strategy rules of the game.
If you're not ready to go bankrupt, then don't chase expensive games just because they look good. Omaha is a variance game, so you must have a minimum of 50 buy-ins for your limit. This means that you will be able to handle the variance that this game will definitely have without the fear of losing your entire bankroll at the tables.
Odds are what make poker profitable. You can be a winning player because it’s you who decides when to invest in the pot. If you make +EV decisions and avoid -EV decisions, then you can always make money in the long run. It is very easy to get into the game and follow your intuition, but it is not a winning method. The only right way is poker math. Know your odds and play accordingly.
If you're new to Pot Limit Omaha strategy, it doesn't make sense to play the way the pros do. The time will come and you will become a stable winner, and before that you will just drive yourself into difficult situations in which you will start making mistakes and losing money. Play tight, choose the right pocket cards, and make nut hands.
Aces are good. But if you have to play them postflop, then do it calmly. This is a game where pairs rarely win at showdown. Even if your aces form the best hand, they are often very hard to get to showdown.
One of the important Omaha tips is the following: if you have aces, then it's better to have cards like A♥ A♦ J♥ T♦. In other words, you need aces with something else that can create a combination. Otherwise, you will allow your opponents to profitably play against you with stronger hands postflop.
Omaha is an even more variance game than Holdem. You must remain calm when faced with extreme variance. If you tilt easily, then this game is not for you. If you lose control of your emotions, you are missing out on the opportunity to make winning decisions. If you catch a bad beat, then you should be able to take a step back and realize that you can go on tilt. If you do not control emotions, then you need to end the game and take a break. Control yourself, because winning poker is your number one goal.
Stick to these rules because you need to make more +EV bets than -EV ones. You need to understand what is profitable and what is not. It's complicated. But you have to analyze the players, the board, your hands, the odds, pretty much everything.
It takes time and practice, but if you get it right then the game will reward you both mentally and financially.
PLO Strategy on Preflop
The cardinal feature of Omaha is how many cards the player receives at the start of each hand. Regardless of whether it's four cards or five, it's still more than in the usual Texas holdem. So, the most important skill for a winning game here is choosing the right starting hands to play.
To help you understand which hands are good to play, we've collected some of the strongest Omaha starters for you.
The best starting hand for Omaha is A♥ A♦ K♥ K♦. The suits may differ, but it is important that the cards are of two suits.
A few tips to help you along the way (they are also right for Omaha Hi Lo strategy):
- do not play too many starting hands;
- learn to notice the moment when you need to fold;
- be patient (watch your opponents and analyze their cards at showdown, see what cards they play);
- start playing tight preflop and gradually expand your range;
- play more hands from late positions;
- aim to hit nut hands (and therefore play more hands that can hit nut draws on the flop).
Postflop Strategy Features
Many PLO players come from no-limit holdem, so they use the same play pattern. They overvalue hands such as one or two pairs, as well as open-ended straight draws (with 8 outs), which are considered especially problematic since it is possible to make monster draws with 20 outs in PLO.
After you learn how to apply the basic strategic rules, you can move on to a more advanced PLO strategy. You'll learn how to spot situations where the combination of your current equity and backdoor outs makes it profitable to call when you're not looking to win the hand. You should also be aware of reads to opponents and how to distinguish hands that play well heads-up from all-round hands.
There are many situations in pot limit Omaha where the pot gets so big that it can easily be called with a hand that might be behind. Not only is it a mega draw like a straight + flush draw, it can be a simple flush draw in a pot where you have good pot odds.
Many beginners often miss out on extra equity from backdoor draws. For example, with a flush draw + top pair, you will have chances of trips or even a runner-runner full house, and you may also have the possibility of a straight. These extra bonuses can add a percentage of your equity, which turns a fold into a call.
Conversely, there are cards that are not pure outs. For example, the situation with the classic flush draw against a set on the flop. The set has full house outs that beat your flush. When you have the nut straight, there is the added risk of cards that make a stronger straight, as well as pairing the board. You need to work with the poker odds calculator to get used to these kinds of situations and improve your level of play.
Omaha Poker Tips on Reading Cards
An opponent's four cards seem much more difficult to read than the usual two cards in holdem. There are several ways in which you can learn how to read your opponents hands. The main thing is to start with a certain type of hands and with their strength. You will find that bet sizing tells can give you a clue before the flop.
For example, some players will only re-raise with premium hands and are more likely to raise with a pair or high card hands instead of calling with their weak hands.
It is very important not only to master the Omaha Hi strategy, but also to adjust it depending on the format in which you play. Remember that the poker strategy for cash games is fundamentally different from the game in tournaments.
After the flop, some players will bet every time they have a draw, while other players often check and call with non-nuts (though strong) draws. Careful observation will help you get an idea of your opponents' cards. Once you figure out if a player has a draw or is defending a made hand, then the decision-making process becomes much easier.
In PLO strategy, some hands play better in multiway pots, others show strength in heads-up. Examples of versatile hands include stronger hands, preferably paired suited hands. If you only have a high pair and no backup plan as a draw, then you'd be better off getting heads up and taking the lead in betting. If the flop doesn't hit you and your opponent is resisting, then high-pair hands can be discarded. Determining whether your hand is versatile, or a hand that plays well heads-up, will help you choose a good preflop betting strategy.
Make sure you mix occasionally, otherwise observant opponents will determine your hand type based on your betting style.
Recommendations for Various Game Types
As you know, the game of Omaha has several popular varieties. And for each of them there are special recommendations for a profitable game.
Omaha Hi Lo strategy is based on the fact that in the game you can collect not only the usual high combinations, but also get half the pot thanks to low ones. This radically changes the approach to the game and to the choice of starting hands.
Here are some basic tips for playing Omaha Hi-Lo:
- always play a hand A2xx (with ace-two you have a high chance of making a strong low);
- do not bluff, especially from early position (this is the so-called game of the nuts, and bluffing is best reserved for holdem);
- don't play big pots heads-up (here you need at least one nut hand and chances to take the second half of the pot; don't forget the rake);
- be prepared for frequent folds on the flop;
- try not to play medium hands (such as 6-8-9-J).
Every holdem player must learn that the Pot limit Omaha strategy is always aimed to make a scoop (win both high and low combinations in a hand). To do this, you can set yourself the goal of surely winning the high and at the same time have a good chance of hitting the low. If you have the nut high hand, you're definitely getting half the pot, which means you can also try pulling low. This is the only way to make long-term profits in this discipline.
If you aim only for half of the pot, you can end up in a situation where you get only a quarter. And so there will be no talk of profit in the long run. For example, with T-J on a 7-8-9 board, you get the nut straight. If any other player also has T-J, you can now only count on a quarter of the pot without a low draw. Also, one of the opponents can be with a set, the board can get paired, and you won't get anything from the pot at all.
The 5 card Omaha strategy is more similar to the standard one, because only the high combination plays a role here. However, having an extra starter card complicates the process. When choosing starting hands, it is very important to pay attention to blockers, as well as the possibility of hitting a monster draw.
You should first get some good practice in regular pot limit Omaha with 4 starting cards. And when you learn how to quickly calculate the odds and set the ranges of your opponents, then you can try such a variation as a five-card game, a variation with a low, and even may start to discover a 6 card Omaha strategy.
Omaha is gaining more and more popularity around the world, both live and online. And now you know that Omaha poker strategy is not as complicated as it might seem at first glance. Follow the rules and recommendations in this article and you will see that positive results will not be long in coming.
You can also benefit from the experience of other players, so pay attention to learning channels such as poker podcasts, educational videos, hand reviews and streams of professional players. This way you can see how Omaha differs from Holdem in practice, what kind of starters are chosen by experienced players to play, in what situations they make difficult folds, what style of play they prefer. Do not be afraid of a new discipline for yourself, because every professional player once also took his first steps. But remember that this is a dynamic variance game where there can be serious downswings. Therefore, it is better to learn this topic really thoroughly and start the game fully armed.
Make sure you know all poker hands. Carefully study the rules of this discipline and its main differences from Holdem. Try playing Omaha freerolls so you don't risk your own money early on.
It is important to understand how combinations are formed in order not to make a mistake in the game process. It is also very important to play the right starting hands that have good prospects and constantly analyze the cards on the board.
Omaha hi lo strategy is considered more complex than the classic 4 card option. Reason is the following: the player needs to strive to collect not only the strongest high combination (the usual full house type hands), but also a low combination (from cards from ace to eight). To make a profit in this format, it is very important to approach the choice of starting hands with the utmost seriousness, with which you can target the entire pot (that is, both parts of it). It is also important to constantly analyze the board and all possible hands of opponents at every moment of the hand.