Omaha holdem: How to Get Started

Omaha Holdem, or Pot-Limit Omaha in its most popular variant, is getting more and more popular. The history of poker is rather interesting, as it started with the draw poker variation, where only each player can see his own cards. Then came stud poker, where the "face up" cards are visible to all. The next step was Texas Hold'em, where not only the board cards are visible to all, but they can also be used by all players.

Omaha Poker is a derivative of holdem with a twist, i.e. you have to pick two among your four hole cards. For players who already know holdem, it is an easy step to move from holdem to omaha, so don't be intimidated.

Easy step, yes. But there are nuances that you'd better be aware if you want to save time learning how to make money at the Omaha tables.

Draw to the Nuts in Omaha

The key concept to grasp is that Omaha hold' em is a game of the nuts. Because each player must choose two cards among his four hole cards, there are six ways he can pick them. Obviously hands are always going to be stronger in Omaha than in Hold'em, as players have 6 ways to make their hand, not just one.

So there are always six times more chances that someone has the hole cards you are worried about. For example if the flop is 985 rainbow in a limped or once-raised pot, what are the chances that someone has a strong hand?

In holdem, there is a possibility that someone has hit a set, two pairs or a straight draw. The chance that a player already has the nuts with 76 is quite slim. In omaha hold'em, this is something to be expected and this is a very dangerous board to commit chips into.

Thus a hand is always vulnerable to a stronger hand, such as a Q high flush versus an ace high flush, a straight versus a flush if there are three cards of the same suits on the board; and a paired board is scary to all the former hands.


Improve Your strong hands in Omaha

Also contrary to texas hold'em, flopping the nuts is not always such a good thing and it could even be advisable to fold at times if you must ship in your entire stack. The reason is that if you flop the nuts straight as in the example from the previous paragraph, then there is a large chance that you will be beat by the river.

Any card between Q and 5 is dangerous indeed on this 985 board. Because such cards will pair the board or introduce higher straigh draws that beat your 9 high straight. And if the flop had a flush draw risk, this makes a flopped nuts straight even more vulnerable.

This is why the strongest type of hands in Omaha Hold'em are the nuts plus a draw to a higher nuts. In our example, if the hero has 9976, this is a great hand as it draws to a boat or a quad. So if you are stacking off against an opponent who also flopped the nuts straight, you have a chance to win the entire pot.

These are the ideal type of hands you want to have as they will make you win huge pots with their high expected values.

Sets and aces are not the nuts in Omaha

As a holdem player, you might get very excited when you see aces, such as AAxx. But AA-rag-rag in particular is not a strong hand. In Omaha, you are looking for coordinated hole cards, so AAKK, AAKQ or AAQJ double suited are very strong hands. On the other hand AA73 rainbow is weak.

The strongest hands have the double-suited features, i.e. two cards in one suit, and the two other cards in another suit. This brings two flush draws, and in Omaha you need exactly two cards of the suit to make a flush, even if there are four cards of that suit on the board. So double-suited is perfect in that respect.

Henceforth a hand like AAT9 double suited is extremely strong, but AAT6 rainbow is pretty weak. Obvioulsy AAAx is a bad hand that should be tossed as one of the three aces is useless.

As Omaha is usually played pot-limit, you cannot force other players to fold with a big raise pre flop. The well-known dominance of AA against any two cards in holdem (85%) does not apply in omaha where AAxx can be a coin-flip against hands such as QJT9, and has at most a 65% advantage in the best case scenario.

Similarly for sets. The bottom or middle set is much more vulnerable in omaha than it is in holdem. So if you engage in a raising battle with bottom set, do not get surprised if you are beat by a higher set.

Pot-Limit Omaha: a straightforward game

Another significant difference is that in PLO, an ABC type of strategy can easily be profitable, at least below high-stakes. And the bettors often have what they represent to have.

Because the bet size is capped by the pot size, and strong hands are at a large risk versus draws, large bets usually mean that the player is protecting a made hand. Bluffing is rather rare and not too common at low of mid-stakes.

What you will see in PLO is not so much players who are bluffing, but rather players who are playing too aggressively their medium hands. And you can make tons of money from them.

Give a shot to Pot-Limit Omaha. You might be positively surprised. Try Ultimate Bet as their players are not good at PLO and you can find very profitable opportunities at UB. Ideally use Ultimate Bet Rakeback when you sign up at Ultimate Bet and your online poker will become even more profitable.

And you can get a huge Ultimate Bet 111% bonus up to $1100.