Omaha Hi/Lo Strategy: Let’s Talk Tournaments

The strategies that apply in Omaha Hi/Lo ring games frequently don’t work as well as we’d like in tournament play involving the variant. You can’t refill your chip stack when you’re playing in a tournament and the blinds escalate continually, meaning that you’ve got to secure a place ahead of the curve so that you don’t end up being blinded to death. The very fundamentals don’t necessarily change; you just have to keep tournament dynamics in mind to get ahead and stay ahead.

See More Flops Early
While the blinds are low and your chip stack is comparatively deep, you’re going to want to see as many flops as you can on the cheap. In the earliest stages of an Omaha Hi/Lo tournament, you’re going to want to get as many chips as possible in your crack. This way, you’ll be better able to handle the bigger bets and decisions associated with the middle and final stretches. Don’t be afraid to play speculative hands if you’ve got position on your side, especially if it’s a multi-way pot. Yes, you’ll lose a few bets over the course of the early stages but your real objective is risk a little to get in on big pots where your marginal hand can triumph and earn you a lot.

See Fewer Flops Later
You’ll want to do the exact opposite of the previous once you hit the middle stages of an event. See fewer flops and make your hand selection very tight. I’ve seen many a tournament where players were going to the later stages with just ten or fifteen big blinds on their side. This means that every hand you take to the river that doesn’t win can cost you a lot of money, if not eliminate you outright. Stick to only the most premium of hands and be aggressive when you’ve got a combination hand that can take you all the way. You’ll find that your opponents are much more likely to fold in the pre-flop stage because a raise can actually cripple their stack!

Keep Stack Sizes In mind
Once you hit the later stages of a tournament and are approaching the final table, you definitely want to keep track of how your stack sizes up to the competition. If you don’t think you’re going to make it through the bubble, you can either wait and hope that your competitors fall before you do or go a bit more aggressive while the others are being tighter. Frankly, the latter strategy seems to work better when you’re playing with more experienced players who naturally want to stick to a tried-and-true formula.

When you reach the final table (and if you follow our advice, you have a better chance of doing that than you would otherwise,) you’re going to want to expand your hand selection again. Once you’re down to five or six opponents a hand that’d normally be a bit marginal like A3XX becomes a lot more playable.