Omaha Strategy: Hands You Can’t Trust

Because of the number of cards in play and the fact that almost every hand contains some kind of potential, it’s tempting for a new Omaha player to get in on the action with every hand they’re dealt. That’s easy to understand, but you have to be careful when you choose which draws you’re going to take to the flop and beyond. Even if there is a bit more variance and action in Omaha, you want to avoid taking chances and stick with playing the game.

To help you understand this, let’s take a look at an example of a hand that may look good but needs more work. You’re holding Tc9c8d7s. To be fair, that’s a solid starting hand – two suited cards that are connected, and two more connected cards. You manage to see the flop for only a minimum bet and it ends up with Td8cKc. That means you’ve got two pair and a straight and a flush draw that goes with it. Before you think about putting as much money as possible into the pot, though, you need to dissect the hand more carefully.

The first thing you need to realize is that you’re holding the bottom two pair, which usually amounts to coming in second place at best in a round of Omaha. Another player could easily best you while holding two pair with kings and tens (or even a set.) Even if you get lucky and you manage to hit a full house with one of the four outs that are available for you, you’re still running the risk of having a higher one facing you at the showdown.

I know what you’re thinking: “I still have fifteen outs, right? There are straight and flush draws.” You’re looking at the lower end of a straight, which means that even if you make it, you’re still looking at someone possibly (or even likely, if there are a lot of people playing on the hand) besting you. A player with J9 or QJ is going to beat you. You’d need a six to be the highest card dealt in the turn and river for you to have the nuts. You are, again, down to just four outs.

If the six of clubs or any other club hits, you get the flush. The good news is that it’s going to be a king-high flush, but the ten is your second card. If another player is holding the ace of clubs, you’re going to lose. Should you continue playing if there’s a flush draw? Yes. Should you invest a lot of money in the hand? No.

Identifying which hands are marginal but look good is one of the key skills you have to absorb when you play Omaha poker. Minimizing your risk with a hand like this and being able to fold easily is a cornerstone of good Omaha poker play.