Basic Poker Strategy: From Hold ‘Em To Omaha – Before The Flop

Let’s face it — hold ‘em poker games at just about every level have gotten tough over the last few years as more mathematically-oriented players have entered the fray. The generation of players that has been raised with online poker definitely play a more aggressive game than the people who came before. In comparison, Omaha is a player’s game still with fewer definitive how-to guides and, frankly, the game is not nearly as close to being “solved” as traditional Texas Hold ‘Em poker is.

Let’s take a look at what the experienced Texas Hold ‘Em player that wants to actually have fun playing poker again can do to improve their odds out of the gate in Omaha. This article assumes you have general knowledge of the game and if not.

Pre-Flop Play

There’s still a great deal of debate about the hands that you can play in Omaha poker and be a profitable, winning player. Most players that stick with the game seem to stick with playing like 20-25% of their hands while some are looser and manage to rake in real money by playing up to 40% of their hands, which may seem insane. You can certainly win by being nit-picky at low and medium stakes tables and playing tight pre-flop, but some really succeed by being aggressive as they cold call more raises and find themselves in multi-way pots that others would have stayed out of.

It’s still possible to overvalue big pairs in Omaha because of the fact that you’re immediately limited by them in relation to the flop and other streets on the board. You can only use two of the cards in your hand and three of the cards on the felt, which means that you might actually be better off with a “mixed nuts” sort of hand: 9h8d7h6d is much stronger than a 9h8d8h6d hand.

Also, it should be noted that two good Hold’em hands in front of you do not a good Omaha hand make: Kc-Qc-8s-8d is a weak pre-flop Omaha holding. We’re looking for hands with four cards that all work well together and can make the bigger hands we need in Omaha. Many experienced poker players will be aware of these ideas but understanding them and playing in accordance with them takes time.

It’s important for new-to-Omaha players to make the adjustments they’ll need to whether the increased variance of the game as they continue to play. Omaha is, in general, a more expensive game requiring a calmer disposition to succeed. I honestly recommend not multi-tabling when playing online poker for quite a long while with Omaha because of the adjustments the game forces you to make. Take the time to really get to know a single-table view of the game before you risk real money and end up throwing away buy-ins.