BEGINNER STRATEGIES FOR PLAYING OMAHA POKER

BEGINNER STRATEGIES FOR PLAYING OMAHA POKER

Omaha is probably the most popular form of poker besides hold em, and in many places even more popular than hold em. The pots can often be bigger in omaha, and the play much more loose and exciting. You could win several buy ins in a typically loose game, or lose several, which makes the game very exciting. The players in an omaha game will often play much worse than their hold em counterparts, and several players are just hold em players looking to pass the time, or thinking that because they get four cards instead of two, that they can play more hands, thus the reputation of omaha poker as an action game. As wild and loose as these games can be, the beginner can stand to make a lot of money if he practices solid fundamentals and good omaha specific poker strategy. The following tips should allow any beginner to enter an omaha poker game with no fear and tons of confidence.

THE BASICS OF OMAHA POKER

If you have played hold em before, then you should be able to adjust faster than someone who has not played. It is a similar game, with a flop, turn, and river, which are community cards that every other player can use to make the best five card hand. Do keep in mind however, that of the four cards that are dealt to you, you may only use two, and three of the community cards. For example, if the board has four hearts by the river, and you hold the Ace of hearts with no other heart in your hand, you do not have a flush, as you can only use three of the community cards. Some beginning players can sometimes be confused by this and learn quickly after losing a couple of buy ins that they can only use two of their four cards to construct their hand. Having read this, it shouldn’t be a problem for you. But besides the fact that you are dealt four cards, the rest of the game is remarkably similar as hold em, at least in regards to the rules. Small blinds and big blinds are used, and the hand plays out just like hold em, with a round of preflop betting, betting on the flop, the turn and finally the river. There are some differences as far as strategy however, and below will be some things to keep in mind as a beginner starting to play omaha poker.

OMAHA POKER: WHICH HANDS WIN AND WHICH DON’T

Because everyone gets four cards in omaha as opposed to two cards like in a hold em game, winning hands in a full ring game are often much greater than those in a hold em game. One pair is all but worthless by the river, two pair is rarely good, and often the nuts is out there somewhere. In a game of pot limit omaha, calling down with a second nut flush, or the nut flush on a paired board will quickly make you a broke player. You want to play against players like this, not be them. The biggest thing a beginner should know is to fear the paired board, especially in a full game. Short handed you may have to use your own discretion, but even then always be weary of the paired board. If you flop the nut straight or flush, and some donkey is calling your pot sized bets until the river, odds are he had a set or two pair, and if the board pairs by the river, try to save as much money as you can, wether it be just making a crying call, or folding your hand depending on stack sizes. So knowing that a hand has to be extremely solid by showdown, we will next discuss which hands to play before the flop.

STARTING HANDS FOR THE OMAHA POKER BEGINNER

It is true that very few hands are much more than a two to one favorite over any other hand in omaha, and because of this many players will play literally any four cards, which makes for a volatile and wild game. However, what most of these players don’t take into account is the fact that those numbers only hold true if all the money is in the pot preflop, which is an extremely rare case in a game of pot limit omaha. The beginner should know that the very best hands in omaha are AAKK double suited and AAJ10 double suited, because you could hit the nut straight, nut flush, or nut set. With a hand like these you should be ecstatic if you can get all the money in against a single opponent preflop. However, if you wait around for these two specific hands only, the blinds will quickly eat up your stack. So what other hands should you be looking to play? The beginning player should probably concentrate on playing the following types of hands.

THE BIG CARDS AND ACE HIGH WRAPS

Any four cards 10 or higher are usually playable and often profitable starting hands. Especially if they are suited or are headed by an Ace. Hands like AKQ9, AKJ9, and AKT9 can flop sixteen card nut straight draws, while hands like AQJ9, AQT9, and AJT9 can flop thirteen card nut straight draws.

THE STRAIGHT HANDS

Some of the best starting hands are the four connecting cards, especially the higher ones. AKQJ all the way down to 6789 have awesome straight potential, and can flop all kinds of powerful draws and made hands. You could flop the nut straight with hands like these, and even have a redraw to boot, as well as thirteen card straight draws, and top two pair with an up and down straight draw. Any four connecting cards lower than 6789 can be extremely tricky to play by the beginner, and should generally be avoided.

THE SUITED ACE HAND

The ace high flush is a very common winning hand in omaha, and has the potential to win huge pots from players chasing a full house or calling down with a worse flush. However, this does not mean you want to play any random suited ace, as you need to have more going for you than that one draw. The suited aces you want to play are a suited ace with straight cards, like A678, A89T, or something like A567. Another type of suited ace hand you should try to play are the hands with a suited ace and a pair, like A2JJ, A7KK, or something like A377. The other kind of suited ace you should see some flops with are the suited ace with high cards. AKQJ, ATQQ, AQTJ, or something like that which will also fall under the big cards hands discussed earlier.

A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO PLAYING THE OMAHA HAND

So you know which hands should be safe and profitable to play, now let us discuss how to play them. In a pot limit omaha game where you have a decent stack, it is often beneficial to see flops with playable hands. If there is a single raise and multiple callers, you should probably be limping in right along with everybody, unless you re in late position with a powerhouse AA type hand and can reraise huge by the time it gets to you and try to get heads up with the original raiser. But unlike hold em, you will be calling a lot to see the flop. This is where the money is made and lost, on the flop. You have to honestly evaluate your hand. If you have not flopped the nuts, or don’t have a powerful drawing hand on the flop, you need to let go. Chasing second best flushes, or flopping the sucker end of a straight and hanging on till the river in omaha is foolish and will cost you several buy ins. Sometimes you will even flop the nuts and have to lay it down on the flop if it looks like there are too many potential draws and several players still in and betting big, and you have no kind of redraw. If you can just remember not to go to war with a hand that is not the absolute nuts, or has powerful draws on the flop that can make it the absolute nuts by the river, you should be fine.

CLOSING THOUGHTS FOR THE BEGINNING OMAHA PLAYER

After having read this, the beginning omaha player should feel a lot more at ease than before. We have went over which hands win in a game of omaha, ace high flushes, nut straights, and full houses abound. We have also seen what hands stand to be the most profitable for the beginner, those specific AA hands, connecting cards, and four high card combos. We have also seen that the flop must be played very cautiously, and a player should never continue in the hand unless he has the nuts or has several draws to the nuts by the river. These tips should prove very valuable to the beginning omaha player, and you should have no fear and tons of confidence going into an omaha game now. Good luck!


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