When starting out in Omaha, there are a number of pitfalls it is only too easy for a beginner to fall into. Many new players come from the realm of Hold’em, yet despite the apparent similarity between the two games, approaching Omaha with the same strategy as a Hold’em game is likely to end in tears.
Learning how to play Omaha can be a tough baptism at first so this article is going to take a look at some of the mistakes commonly made by beginners to the game, so you can make early efforts to sidestep them as you learn how to play the game profitably. Let’s run through some potential hazards and Omaha strategy tips to help you on your way.
This is perhaps the biggest mistake unseasoned players make. They see a flush or three of a kind and jump at the chance to throw their money in the pot, as these are big hands in their experience. Well, beware. Of course if you have the nut flush or top set then these are indeed strong hands, but in Omaha you might often find yourself with a ten-high flush, or with trip 8s on an 89T board.
In both cases, these are mediocre hands, and should be played very cautiously and thrown away if you face much resistance, as you are almost certainly behind. It can be frustrating to spin hands like this into the muck, but no one said it was going to be easy, and it will be a lot more frustrating if you lose your stack holding onto losing propositions. Big hands usually win big pots in Omaha and ten-high flushes are not big hands.
Playing Too Many Hands
It’s tempting in Omaha to play almost every flop. Given the vastly-increased combinations of cards available to you, there is a strong pull to pay pre-flop to take a look at the flop as there’s a reasonable chance you will hit some part of it. Hold’em players especially will look at hands with A-K and similar in them and automatically play them.
Don’t get Beguiled by this.
Yes, you will hit the flop more often than in Hold’em, but remember the average winning hand is going to be much stronger in Omaha so you don’t just need to hit the flop, you need to hit it well. Your job will be made much easier if you play co-ordinated cards such as Th Js Qh Ks. This kind of hand will nearly always flop strong full houses, flushes and draws when it connects with the flop.
You won’t be put in as many tough spots post-flop and you will show a profit even if you stick rigidly to playing hands or this ilk that are co-ordinated both in rank and where possible suit. This does require patience and restraint. You’ll be throwing away some playable looking hands but you will make more money. Once you gather more experience at the game, you can widen the scope of hands you play to mix up your style, but at first, play tightly, get some good experience and make some money along the way.
Aces are one of the biggest problems for new players. In Hold’em, aces are such an overwhelming favourite both pre and usually post-flop, that players almost never fold them – and rightly so. However in Omaha, aces are a trickier hand to play. Aces will usually be a favourite over another hand pre-flop, but the margin may be small and they are rarely better than a 60:40 favourite. Here are two big tips to help you make aces profitable.
1) Firstly, do not telegraph your hand.
You will do this if the only hand you ever 3 or 4 bet has aces in. Your opponents will quickly realise this and can then play many hands against you knowing they can blast you off dangerous-looking boards or play smaller cards with implied odds to stack you when they hit. By all means three bet your aces sometimes, but make sure you three bet other combinations of cards too to disguise your range. Flat calling in some spots for deception is also fine. Of course if you find yourself able to get a large % of your stack into the middle pre-flop that is great as statistically, you will be a favourite over your opponent.
2) Don’t overplay them on certain flops.
Certain boards are just disaster for aces, such as coordinated straightening boards and you will have to throw those aces away sometimes on dangerous boards such as 9d Td Js when you face resistance. This is always a delicate judgment call based on the tendencies of your opponents and the odds the pot is offering you.