Many of us started playing poker with Texas hold’em. Especially if you started since the game’s huge rise in popularity in the early 2000s.
Now Omaha is the game that’s getting attention. More people are playing than ever.
Omaha poker is the second most popular poker game after hold’em, and gaining on it. In 2018, the World Series of Poker top Omaha payout broke $1 million for the first time.
It’s true that Omaha poker is similar to hold’em, but it’s a more complex game. So if you’re ready to branch out, get started with these 8 tips for winning at Omaha poker.
1. Play a Tight Game
Of course, you can always play Omaha poker too tight or too loose. But when you’re starting out, it’s far more likely that you’re playing too loose.
Early on, players tend to make mistakes like:
- play too many hands
- overestimate their hand’s value
- underestimate their opponents’ hands
So while you’re still becoming familiar with the intricacies of the play and the odds in Omaha, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
If you think you’re playing too tight, you’re probably playing a more well balanced game.
2. Don’t Overestimate Starting Hand Values
Again, you have to know the key differences between Texas hold’em and Omaha poker.
If you’re a hold’em player, you probably know pocket aces are the best cards you can start with. In fact, they’ll beat any other random hand about 80% of the time.
In Omaha that number drops significantly, because there are more possibilities and big hands are made more often.
Two aces and two kings suited is the best starting hand in Omaha. But the second best isn’t aces and queens, it’s aces with a jack and a ten suited. That’s because when you have four hole cards you’ll see many more flushes and straights.
In fact, aces in your pocket without other suited or connected cards isn’t a very good starting hand. A pair of aces will rarely win, and unless you flop a third ace, there isn’t much chance of improving your hand.
3. Make Yourself Fold Before the Flop, Often
Limiting the action you see to the good hands you get will just simplify the game for you. It’s a good tactic for beginners. But easier said than done.
First of all, it’s just always going to be tempting to see what will happen to your hand with the flop. And with four hole cards there are so many possibilities.
Keep in mind, playing mediocre cards can get you into big trouble. It’s great when you can make something of them… until you find out your opponent made something a little better.
The cards you play also depend on your position in the hand. Which brings us to the next point.
4. Play the Position
Position is always important, but especially while you’re still getting used to the way Omaha is played. Your position in the hand makes a huge difference.
Whenever you’re first to act you’re in the weakest position at the table. If you’re first to act after the blinds, as a beginner, you probably only want to play about 5-10% of your hands.
If you’re the last to act, or close to it, you can select the hands you play much more liberally. If you have an ace, any pocket pair, or a good mix of suited and/or connected cards you’ll probably want to see the flop.
During the play, late position gives you much more opportunity to get more out of the other players when you do have those big hands.
5. Know Who You’re Up Against
It’s crucial that you learn what you can about how everyone at the table plays. You need to pay attention to everything that happens, even when you’re not involved in the hand.
World Series poker champions will tell you that the best move against one player will not be the same against another.
At the most basic level, you want to be able to distinguish the stronger players from the weaker ones.
While you’re observing the play, you’re trying to identify the tendencies of each player as being tight or loose, and passive or aggressive.
A tight player will fold more often before the flop, while a loose player will call raises just to stay in and see if their hand will improve with more cards.
A passive player will tend to check or call more often, while an aggressive player raises more frequently and may even get caught bluffing.
The most passive and loose players are the weakest at the table. Your goal should be to involve yourself in hands against them as often as you can.
6. Don’t Underestimate Your Draws
Unlike in hold’em, in Omaha poker, betting and raising with good draw possibilities isn’t necessarily a bluff at all. You may very well be a favorite to win.
You may be holding cards with a flush draw possibility and multiple cards to complete a straight.
A wrap-draw, for instance, is the term for hole cards with a straight draw that can have up to 20 different outs. An example of that is holding a 10, 9, 6, and 5. If both sets are suited you have a ton of outs.
7. Be Wary of Your Good Hands
In a game like Omaha poker a lot of chips will be exchanged when two or more players have big hands.
This means you can get into trouble more often when your good poker hands are beat out by the best poker hands. This makes your good hands more risky. Don’t let yourself get a false sense of security.
8. Know That a Bluff isn’t Always Just a Bluff
A semi-bluff is when you choose to play more aggressively than the value of your cards would dictate, but at the same time you have draw possibilities to back it up.
This creates two ways of winning the hand. You can win by bluffing your opponent off the hand, or you can catch your draw to win.
But be aware that your opponents may be using this same tactic.
Taking these Tactics to the Table
Use these 8 tips for Omaha poker whether you’re playing with friends, at the casino, or online.
You might start by familiarizing yourself with Omaha poker in low-stakes online games. If that’s the case, learn more about playing online to win big.