Omaha is an exciting, challenging, and intricate form of poker, and learning to play it well can be both enjoyable and rewarding. In order to get the most out of this article, first make sure you are familiar with the rules of both variations of Omaha by reading our Rules pages.
There are two variations of the game: Pot Limit Omaha (most commonly played as a high only game) and Omaha High/Low (traditionally played with structured betting limits). Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) is a game which is quickly growing in popularity, most likely due to its similarities to the very popular No-Limit Texas Hold’em. However, there are a few key differences between the two games, and understanding them is critical to making the transition.
The following tips will help you make a smooth transition from Hold’em to Omaha:
In Ttexas Hold’em, looking down to find a pair of aces can be quite a thrill. This powerhouse of a hand is often enough to win the pot unimproved. However, in Omaha, because of all the possible combinations players may use (due to having four cards rather than the two they are dealt in Hold’em) even the mighty pair of aces is quite vulnerable. If you are facing any resistance and get all of your chips in past the flop with nothing but a bare pair in Omaha, you may find yourself wondering what went wrong.
It is a somewhat rare sight in Hold’em to have a “combo draw,” which is a hand that has the potential to make not just one, but multiple draws (such as a hand that is drawing to both a straight and a flush). However, because you have four cards to work with in Omaha, these very strong drawing hands are much more commonplace. Unique to Omaha, a “wraparound straight draw” or simply “wrap” is a term used to describe a hand with three or four of your cards working for the straight draw, such as A-K-T-x or Q-T-9-8 on a QJ2 flop. When you have the combination of a flush draw AND a wrap-around straight draw in the same hand, this powerful draw can even rival the strength of three of a kind in terms of hand equity, and can be played very aggressively, especially on the flop.
Much of the strategy of Texas Hold’em (especially Limit Hold’em) revolves around seizing the initiative in a hand; that is, taking the betting lead by opening the pot for a raise and attempting to win the blinds without a fight. When your preflop bet is called, you would then generally use your initiative by continuing to bet until someone else plays back at you. This often works well in Hold’em because when you raise before the flop you are representing a strong hand like ace-king or a big pocket pair, and these hands are often still good by the river on a typical board. In Omaha however, hand values run much closer preflop, and if you don’t catch a good piece of the board, you aren’t very likely to have a holding by the river like you are in Hold’em. Your more savvy opponents are going to recognize this, and make your life very difficult when they have position on you by calling and raising your continuation bets when low cards flop.
One of the most exciting aspects of PLO is that big all-in confrontations occur much more frequently than in most other games, because strong made hands and draws are dealt much more commonly. Because of this, you will be winning or losing stacks of chips more frequently, and thus should plan to experience much swings, both in your bankroll and with your emotions. Not practicing proper bankroll management will not only increase your chances of ending up broke, but can have an effect on your play as well. Playing with money that you cannot afford to lose is never recommended, so if you are on a short bankroll, PLO is probably not the right game for you.
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