Posted 08 December 2005 - 10:06 PM
I'm going to bring over a few articles from another forum that I think have helped a great number of players. This is not the end-all-be-all of Omaha articles, but these are some thoughts that I have accumulated over time that I hope can be helpful to many of you. A couple of thoughts:1. This is merely a guide. There are a lot of gaps and other elements missing to make this a complete article. I purposely do not get into a lot of situational advice and Omaha is a highly situational game.2. This is a beginner's guide, although some of this advice will apply to more advanced players. There are exceptions to a lot of the advice here.3. Remember, this is also a low-limit guide. At the higher limits, some of the push-pull concepts here can get reversed. At the lower levels, you can push the nuts and often still get paid off.Playing Low-Limit Omaha 8/b 1. Starting Hand Selection Starting hand selection tends to be the most difficult thing for beginning Omaha players to grasp. Most players tend to rely on their experience from NL as a guide, a big mistake in Omaha. However, it is also important not to over-estimate the importance of starting hand selection. Omaha is a post-flop game. A few obvious misconceptions and/or problems: • Over-valuing high pocket pairs, especially pocket Aces. Beginners almost always raise pre-flop with pocket Aces and are easy to spot. Omaha is not necessarily about what hand you start with; it is about what hand you can draw to. • Over-valuing a “naked” A-2. If all you hold is A-2-x-x, I hate to burst your bubble, but you are not going to win the low most of the time. Think about what you need to happen: you need 3 cards between 3-8 to fall and you cannot have an Ace or deuce fall; that’s a lot to hope for. • Calling raises with hands that have little to no chance of scooping. Playing a hand like 9-10-J-Q is ok in many circumstances, but should you really be calling a raise with it? You already know that you have zero chance at a low…why chase down with a hand that will get you half the pot at best? Even if it is double-suited, no flush gives you the nuts, with the obvious exception of the straight flush. 2. Push vs. Pull There are two concepts in Omaha known as “push” and “pull”. Understanding the difference is vital to your Omaha success. A. Push hands-There are probably three instances in which I “push” my hands: • It may seem obvious, but when I flop the nuts with additional room to improve, i.e. wrap straight draws. Often, your flopped straight leaves someone else open-ended; when there money card hits on the turn, but improves your straight again to the nuts, check-raising opportunities become plentiful. • Despite flopping nothing, I have a big draw that actually makes me the favorite in the hand. Let’s say I hold A-d-2d-9-c-Jc and the flop hits 3c-8d-10d. I have nothing, but hold the nut flush draw, nut low draw and a straight draw. I like pushing here because no one has made a straight or flush yet; the only danger hand we’re up against is trips. I hold the nuts if any 4, 5, 6, 7, Queen or diamond hit the board. If you play this as a “pull” hand, you make less money when the flush or straight hit the board, as it becomes obvious when you bet that you have made your hand. • When I am first to act, but only have made the nut low (and preferably have counterfeit protection). Let’s say I hold A-2-3-x and the flop hits 4-6-7 and I bet. If you are my opponent, what am I betting here? I could hold A-3-5 for a straight, I could have trips, I could have an open-ended straight with 8-9 or yes, I could hold the low. Point is, you don’t know. And with protection for my low, getting counterfeited is only a slight possibility with runner-runner. B. Pull Hands There are also several instances in which you need to slow down or play your hands as a “pull”. • When all you have is the nut low, especially when you have no counterfeit protection. It is much more likely that you will be splitting the low vs. splitting the high; push with your low hands and you’ll find yourself getting quartered much of the time. Let your opponent bet your hand for you. You can also still make money in the hand if you get quartered, as long as there is enough opponents and money in the pot; quick math will tell you whether you will make money or lose money when that happens. • When you make the nuts, but have little to no chance to improve. Let’s say you hold Kd-Qh-Jh-8d and the flop hits 9-10-J rainbow or with two clubs. A queen or king negates your nut straight; a club will probably give someone a flush. An Ace again gives you the nut straight, but you’re only good if that Ace is not a club. You may obviously bet this hand, but if you get raised, I would suggest only calling and hang on for dear life. Someone may already have the same straight as you, but is free-rolling to a better hand. • When you make the second nuts, either high or low. This will obviously depend upon the texture of the board, how many opponents are in the hand and the texture of the betting in front of you. If you make the 2nd nut flush and someone bets in front of you, call. They could be sitting on trips or a lower flush and are betting to see where they are. When the flush hits and there is a bet and a raise in front of you, now that’s a different story. You may also win a hand with the 2nd nut low, but I tend to watch for a different cue to know if it is good. First, if there are 4 people in the hand, your second nut low is probably no good; I’m looking for 1-2 oponents. The 2nd nuts is usually ok when you can identify that 2 players are probably fighting over the high. If the board pairs, player 1 bets and player 2 raises and you can see that the nature of the board suggests they probably do not hold A-2 (here is where you need to visualize what hand they would have came into the pot with in the first place pre-flop, but be careful), go ahead and call. 3. Limit Tourney Play Trying to be successful by playing primarily limit O8b tourneys would be a frustrating endeavor. There are several things you have going against you: • This is limit. As has been quoted many times, in limit, you spend more time playing the man than the cards. If you don’t get the cards, you’re going nowhere. Additionally, limit lends itself to chasing draws; in Omaha, even more so. I’m not even sure there is such a thing as a bad beat in Omaha, given how many draws are typically present. • There is a high-degree of luck involved vs. other forms of tourneys. You can get dealt A-2-3-4 3 times in a row, only to see the flop hit 9-10-J three times in a row (which I have had happen on many occasions. If this consistently happens, again, you will be going nowhere. So how do you maneuver through such a tournament? A. Early Rounds 1. Tight is right It is not unusual for me to play only 3-5 hands in the first hour of a tournament. This is difficult to do while watching all of the maniacs cap and drag pots with 5-6-7-J. There are little to no chances to bluff. I only play hands to a raise or I will raise that have a chance of scooping: • A-2-3-4; A-2-3-x; A-2-4; A-2-5-x; A-2 and 2 additional face cards; hands that add up to 40 points, i.e. A-K-Q-J (preferably not rainbow), A-A-Q-10, etc. • If you have a loose table with 6 players already ahead of you and have a raising hand, I generally will not raise. Your raises should generally be used to thin the herd, not to add to the pot. With that many people in the pot, you are probably not a big enough favorite to justify the raise at that point, since it is likely no one will fold to your raise. I will play other hands if I believe I can get in for one bet, such as: • Any A-2 • Connectors starting no lower than 9-10-J-Q • Double pairs, like Q-Q-J-J (but probably only from LP), which have a 4-1 shot to hit • Double suited cards with nut and 2nd nut flush draws, like Ah-6h-Kc-7c • 2-3-4-x from LP; when this hand hits, especially with an Ace on the board, you will often split the low and take the high B. Mid to Late Rounds Now the bluffing begins. I consider the mid-rounds to begin when the blinds hit 50-100 and the betting is 75-150 (assuming your starting total in chips was 1,500, using UB’s structure). In general, the number of players seeing a flop will be reduced. If your table was averaging 6 players to a flop, this level may average as little as 4 or sometimes even less. You can also begin to play some hands that were unthinkable at the lower-levels: • Hands like 7-8-9-10 or 9-9-10-J. These will hold up much better against fewer opponents. • You can add a few more double-suited hands, like Jc-2c-3h-Kh. • Any hand with A-A, even A-A-6-9. You will start to see pocket pairs begin to hold up more than they had earlier. If you are fortunate enough to get through all of that and have maneuvered your way to the final few tables, I become very aggressive. Paired boards are a great time to take a shot at a bluff, despite the fact that it sends shivers of nervousness up your spine when you do it. This is especially effective when you are heads up in a hand. Don’t think that you need the nuts every time to win; this will often not be the case. And if you are lucky enough to get down to the final two, just like in NL play, any four cards are playable.