Omaha Poker: The Biggest Mistake

Every poker game is different and Omaha in particular presents difficulties and temptations that can stress even the most experienced Texas Hold ‘Em player. You have to be patient and know when and how to play the hand before you even think about betting.

It’s always good to be conservative when you’re first learning a game, but Omaha players in particular need to look out for sub-premium hands that can cost them a lot. To put this into perspective: In Hold’em, there are 169 distinct hand permutations. If you play a conservative game in Hold’em, you will only be playing the top 10 hands. Out of these top 10 hands there are actually 16 different options, including suited and offsuit versions of the non-pairs.

In Omaha, however, there are over sixteen thousand different unique starting hands that you can be dealt and out of those, there are 30 premium hands that are no-brainers. Each one of those hands can be double-suited, single suited or a rainbow, which means that you have 90 “acceptable” starting hands. That’s only one half of one percent of all possible hands dealt to you. That means that if you stick to the same math as you do in Hold ‘Em, that’s one hand out of every 200 you’re dealt. Nobody is that patient so you have to learn how to open up a bit.

The problem is that you need to understand hand strengths in Omaha and how you need to play sub-premium hands but play them well. Omaha has no end of hands that look great but are almost completely worthless. If you have Hold’em experience you might fall into the common trap of overplaying low suited connectors, especially if you have four in a row. Have no illusions – hands such as 4567, double-suited or not, are not strong ones for a beginner to be playing.

I’ve written this at least a dozen times in every way possible, but it bears repeating until you say it in your sleep: Omaha is a game of the nuts. If you make a seven-high flush, you’re going to lose your stack to the nuts because someone has a Queen-high flush or something similar. If you do make a six-high hand, you’re going to also need to make a straight with no pair or possible flush on the board. The odds of that happening are infinitesimally small.