Omaha is a Great Poker Variation
Juicy Stakes Poker players usually play Texas Hold’em. We and many others have written extensively about Texas Hold’em since it became the wildly popular poker variation that it is.
So, we have decided to “turn the tables” on Texas Hold’em and write an entire article on Omaha!
Omaha Adds Three Huge Wrinkles to Community Card Games
In Omaha, players get four cards down. Then the community cards come out as in Texas Hold’em: a flop of three cards and then the turn and the river. Four down cards alone would change the way players view a hand before the flop. But Omaha adds yet another wrinkle to the mix: a player’s hand has to use two down cards and three community cards!
The third grand wrinkle that Omaha adds to community card games is that there is an Omaha variation called Omaha Hi-Lo. Here, the strength of a hand before the flop varies greatly from either Omaha High or Texas Hold’em!
A hand that would be folded immediately in a game of high-hand wins might actually be the start of a very good low hand in Omaha Hi-Lo!
We will talk more about Omaha Hi-Lo later in this article.
Some “Great” Hands in Omaha Are Not Great at All!
If you are dealt three of a kind plus one, the set has little value since you really only have a pair! In fact, it is a lot better to bet dealt two pair than a set!
In Omaha, since you use two hole cards, there is a lot more variation in how those cards can be used depending on how the flop (and the turn and river) comes out. Given that the variation in strength of one player’s hole cards can change dramatically with the flop, we have to acknowledge that the same possibility applies to all hands!
For most professional Omaha players, this means playing even tighter in Omaha than they do in Texas Hold’em!
Is Tight-Aggressive the Best Tactic in Omaha?
Just as most Texas Hold’em pros feel that tight-aggressive is the best strategy in that game, so is it the best strategy in Omaha. There is a huge difference, however. In Omaha, players are advised to play tighter than they do in Texas Hold’em and that creates an opening to be even more aggressive in Omaha when they do play!
Beginning Omaha Players Tend to Be Impatient
Given that in Omaha, players are expected to be tighter, that translates into more folding hands before the flop. Players can submit to the temptation to “just play a hand”. This is not strategy at all.
Winning Hands are Worth More in Omaha
Since there are more cards to create a winning hand from, there will be a higher range of good hands or bettable hands in Omaha. The best analogy to this very important strategy point is the difference in hand strength between five card stud and seven card stud!
Can You Distill Omaha Strategy in a Few Short Bullet Points?
We can certainly try.
- Winning hands in Omaha tend to be higher than in Texas Hold’em.
- The result is that it is better overall for Omaha players to play tighter before the flop and to limp in as little as possible.
- There seems to be less overt bluffing in Omaha.
- That means that bets are more likely to reflect strength.
- Keep very close tabs on players. New players tend to overbet their hole cards before the flop and even slightly better Omaha players can take advantage of that mistake in strategy.
- Patience is so important in Omaha that players can improve their level of patience by learning a skill that takes patience to learn such as a musical instrument or by taking on an intellectual challenge that also requires a lot of patience such as learning a non-European language or learning to read a language with entirely different letters and characters.
- Generally speaking, pots in Omaha run higher and that puts extra pressure on one’s bankroll. It also points to the idea that in Omaha, players should start with a substantial bankroll.
- Practice finding hands using two hole cards and three community cards. Remember that in Texas Hold’em, you can win with just one hole card while in Omaha, you have to play two hole cards.
How is Omaha Hi-Lo Different Than Regular Omaha?
In short, a holding that you would fold in a New York minute in regular Omaha, can be the start of a wonderful friendship in Omaha Hi-Lo!
As always, a hand with four low cards−the highest card in an Omaha Hi-Lo low hand is an eight−is a lot less valuable than a hand with two very low cards and two high cards! You can only use two low cards from your hand to form your low hand in Omaha Hi-Lo!
There will be more competition in Omaha Hi-Lo but a player who was chasing a winning low hand and knows that he or she has no chance to win the high hand will promptly fold after the flop or the turn.
Juicy Stakes Poker Runs Tournaments in Omaha
We suggest that new Omaha players, even ones who have some skill and experience at Texas Hold’em, start playing Omaha at the lowest stakes. This will conserve your bankroll as you get the hang of the many differences in strategy there are in Omaha.
You might also consider playing Omaha Hi-Lo. This will help your brain look at the low end of hand ranges and will help you see the overall picture better.
As we said above, you can become a better Omaha player by taking on challenges that stress and stretch your brain. This brain exercise is as important for the brain as a workout is for your muscles and your heart!
Study the best ways to study opponents! Everyone knows how important this is for success at Texas Hold’em and it is exponentially more important in Omaha!
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