Beginner's Omaha GuideThis article was posted on July 18, 2007
Before we delve any deeper into the subtleties of Omaha play, we'd better make sure you understand the nature of this game. Even though it's a close relative of Texas Hold'em, there are a few differences between the two variants that are extremely important.
Omaha is a game of huge edges; Hold'em is one of tiny edges. What exactly does this mean for you?
In order to beat Texas Hold'em, you need to find yourself a few smallish edges and then work them over and over. Also known as the game of "nuts", Omaha doesn't work like that. Starting hand selection is much more important here, and the schooling of weaker players is practically non-existent. The less variance that Omaha throws at you, can be explained by the fact that players get four pocket cards instead of the two they get in Hold'em. That means that they're capable to assess a higher percentage of their eventual showdown hand, sooner.
As a beginner, there is one extremely important aspect you have to keep in sight when playing Omaha.
The hand that you decide to show down needs to be made up of exactly two cards from your pocket hand, and exactly three cards off the board. Not more and not less. If you came over to the Omaha table from a Texas Hold'em one, this fact will take some time to sink in. Reading the board is equally important in all community-card poker variants, in Omaha however, it is a little more difficult to do correctly.
Just keep this in mind: three from the board and two from your pocket hand. It sometimes happens that the cards you're holding are counterfeited by the flop, that is, the same rank cards show up on the board again.
This is good for the high hand that you're trying to make (provided it's a high pair we're talking about) but it pretty much kills your low hand.
In order to qualify for a low, you need to have 5 cards (again, two from your pocket hand and three off the board) that are all below 8. Anything that is above 8 doesn't qualify for low. Thus, obviously, the best possible low hand (nut low) is the A,2,3,4,5.
If you have 2,3,4,5 in your pocket and the flop comes A,2,3, you have an excellent low hand: you use 4,5 from your pocket and A,2,3, from the board.
It is quite obvious why starting hands are more important in Omaha than in Hold'em. As I said above, the fact that you're able to see more of your hand sooner provides most of the difference between the two community-card genres.
Starting hands are there for you before the flop, and you have no less than four cards to draw certain conclusions from. Most of the value you'll get out of playing Omaha will come from playing good starting hands, and getting as much money into the pot when you have a good low hand from guys who hold K,J,6,7.
There are certain hands in Omaha that will win at double the rate of just about any other random hand. Exploiting these hands to the max is where your value is. You just can't do that in Hold'em.
In online Omaha there are fewer good players than there are in Hold'em. Given the fact that rookies are easier to beat in Omaha, it should provide you with enough confidence as long as you play according to basic sound Omaha strategy.
Don't be concerned with schooling either. There is no such thing in Omaha. As a matter of fact, schooling fish help the favorite instead of making things tougher for him.