Omaha: Paired Board Strategy

When there’s a pair on the board in pot limit Omaha, you have to remember one thing: you’re either going to win a small pot or lose a very large one. Why? Because a pair is playable on its own, but Omaha is a game of the nuts and the possibility of a straight or flush is much higher. You need to be able to observe the board and its texture carefully and deduce what likely outcomes are.

Every player’s Omaha starting hand offers six different playable combinations from their four cards. If we label them with ABCD, they read like this: AB AC AD BC BD CD. With so many different cards in play and possible combinations, the odds are much higher for a full house than they are in Texas Hold ‘Em. If they didn’t hit the full house, the odds that somebody is going to be holding the third card in a set and there can be up to 18 outs on the turn or river to help them turn that into a full house.

When the board is paired up, that’s when the maxim that Omaha is “a game of the nuts” really kicks in. With a pair on the board, that straight or flush that you’re trying to play is more vulnerable that you might think. After all, if one of those paired cards helps you complete a straight or flush, then it’s likely that that same pair is helping another player build the set and pair they need for a full house. You don’t see many full houses in Texas Hold ‘Em, but they’re a pretty common sight at Omaha tables.

So, why will you either win a little pot or lose a large one? In PLO games where the board is paired, playing your hand aggressively means that you’re going to have to spend more money chasing out weaker opponents. If someone manages to make the full house and raises to you, folding means that you’ll have to kiss that money goodbye. You could check to see if they’re bluffing, but that’s a fairly transparent strategy after an aggressive round of flop betting.

Instead, try betting half to two-thirds of the pot when you’re feeling out what’s happening. It will force your weaker opponents to fold and it lets you know when the stronger ones have put together a monster hand.