Understanding Omaha: Low Limit Preflop Strategy

You’re starting to play Omaha poker online for real money — that’s great! Of course, you’re sensibly going to be sticking to lower limit games in the beginning, right? Right. Now, how do you actually make money at low-limit Omaha poker? Turns out there are lots of opportunities for a player who’s patient and a bit tight to take advantage of his opponents.

Many of these games are filled with players who are playing far too loose because everyone thinks that having two pair means they’ve got a great hand. The best strategy for a semi-serious player is to stick to hands that perform well in multi-way pots and bet hard when you’ve got the nuts. You’re going to see a lot more players getting in on hands with lower-limit Omaha games, which means you should think about longhanded play for the preflop, flop and even the turn. However, we’re sticking to the preflop betting this go-round.

In longhanded Omaha, there’s really no such thing as an immediately dominant hand because of the shifting nature of the board. You could get have AA and KK and still easily get beat with a lower-range set or something similar. Let’s be clear, though: you shouldn’t call to the flop with just anything. You should still play good hands, although now there are many types of good hands and many of them become dominant after the flop hits.

In Hold’em, the difference between a great starting hand and a decent one is huge. In Omaha, starting hands are not as important. A hand like AdAhKc4h is only a 58% favorite against a hand like 8s6h5d4d. That means that the best starting hands in lower-limit Omaha games are the ones where you hit two pair and your draw. Let’s say you’re holding KhQcJhTc – this gives you an angle on a flush in both cases and the possibility of strong pairs being made on the flop.

Hands with only a high pair can sometimes be played. Play AAxx, KKxx definitely; with AAxx you should raise if you think you can knock people out and get the hand heads-up or 3-way. Hands like QQxx and JJxx aren’t so great in Omaha. In most cases, you’ll need to make a set with your high pair in order to win the pot. With high pairs you really want to hit a high full house, and rob someone who thinks their lower full house is the high-hand.

The main reason high pairs are much less valuable than in Texas Hold’em is because having an overpaid on the flop is usually worthless in Omaha. Omaha gives people more chances to flop something like two pair, which immediately invalidates your high pair, even if you’re holding AA. A handy rule of thumb is that the more people there are in a hand, the more likely it is your overpair is dominated.

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