Omaha is a high-variance game and you need to make sure that your bankroll can handle any swings that come its way. Correct bankroll management is frequently overlooked skills that can help players weather the storm. No matter how good your game is, bad runs will happen at the tables and you’re going to want to be able to withstand them.
First of all, why is variance so huge in Omaha? Let’s picture the classic poker scenario of a made hand going against a draw on the flop. For the sake of easy math, let’s go ahead and make both of these hands about equal in the odds to win the pot. Raises and re-raises from a few players before the flop means that the pot has grown to $100. You go ahead and raise your last $100 with a strong draw and an opponent with a made hand correctly calls.
In this situation both you and your opponent have made the ‘correct’ move and bet for value. Your opponent, suspecting he was at least 50% to win had to call $100 to win $200 – also a positive expectation move over time. The fact is, though that only one player will win the pot – the swing for either you or an opponent will be + or – $200. The sheer number of playable Omaha hands means that there are going to be many situations exactly like this.
This means that a serious a buffer is required to prevent a bad run of cards leaving you broke. My suggestion is that while you would usually have 20 buy-ins for the level that you’re playing in Hold ‘Em, Pot Limit Omaha cash game players should up that by about 50% and instead have 30 ready to go This means that you’re only risking 3-4% of your bankroll in any one situation and that a good player, over the time, can come out in the positive. If you’re a poker pro, I definitely recommend upping this number again too as high as 50 buy-ins for the level you’re playing.
For fixed limit games, your bankroll is measured in ‘big bets’ instead of the number of buy-ins. These are the double sized bets after the turn has been dealt. In fixed limit Omaha games you will usually have the odds to call, even if there is as high as an 80% chance you are behind. This ups the variance quite a lot and that means you’re going to see a lot of volatility in your results. This means that I recommend having at least 300 big bets in your bankroll.
Close hand ranks and the significant role played by drawing hands make Omaha a naturally high-variance poker game. To counteract this expert players use bankroll management to avoid the risk of going broke. Your exact criteria for Omaha poker bankroll management will depend on the types of games you play and your individual characteristics.