Where do you suppose you’ll find the highest concentration of fish in an online poker room? The Omaha tables of course. People focus a lot more on Texas Holdem, and Holdem tables are the ones where they decide they’ll reach for fame and wealth. Just as soon as they realize TH might be a bit tough to chew and that the competition is way too stiff there, they decide to check out Omaha. Thus it happens that you’re highly likely to bump into a player who’s never played Omaha in his life, in just about any poker room. Omaha is the most profitable game for those who can really play, because of the abundance of rookies.
I came across people playing Omaha online, who thought they had a Q high flush with three cards from their pocket and two from the table. Obviously, whenever you come across things like that, you needn’t ponder too long whether the guy in question is a fish or not.
Let’s set the most elementary thing straight: in Omaha you need to form your five-card hands with exactly two cards from the pocket and exactly three from the table. Nowhere is reading the board more important than in Omaha Hi-Lo. After all, that’s where three fifths of your winning hand will come from.
The fact that there’s a low hand that can be made and there’s also a high hand in contention for the other half of the pot, will utterly confuse rookie players. Reading low hands can get rather annoying if you don’t go about it the right way. The matter of the fact is, however, that it’s pretty simple. You only need to look at the cards and then determine the lowest possible hand you can make with three cards from the board and two from your pocket. Simple as that. Also pay attention to ‘counterfeit’ cards. ( those cards in your pocket that are paired with cards from the board) They’re called ‘counterfeit’, because, if their pairs show up on the board, you lose the edge provided by these cards.
You need to pay extra attention to nut hands. Omaha is often called the game of the nuts. That’s not because only mentally disturbed people play it, but because of the fact that nuts are usually the winners of every single low hand. The nut is the lowest possible hand in a game. The lowest hand is, of course, A,2,3,4,5. Depending on circumstances, however, the nuts will be different. Take A,2, J, 5 in the pocket and Q, K, 10, 9, 7 on the board. With a board configuration like that, the nut would be A,2,7,9,10, and of course you have the nut since you have A,2, J, 5 in the pocket.
What you need to do, to play winning Omaha Hi-Lo, is to simply play reasonable starting hands, and adopt the basic sound Omaha strategy. Most players will not have this edge and by simply playing reasonably, you’ll have a really nice hourly win-rate. A lousy player will never stand half a chance against someone who plays like this.
Starting hands take on a whole new meaning in Omaha. You might’ve gotten used to the fact that starting hand selection is not that big of a deal in Texas Holdem, where the postflop betting game is where the value is at. In Omaha, a good starting hand selection will provide you with a huge edge over the (mostly) clueless opposition.
Acting aggressive preflop with a good hand ( A,2 3,4) will draw a lot of money into the pot. Many players like to take a look at the flop even if they have but junk in the pocket to see what comes up. This is a custom that comes from Texas Holdem. It is worth there to take a peek at the flop every now and then, even on junk hands, because you never know what the flop might bring. In Omaha, however, certain hands will win more than two times more often than similar hands would in TH.
Another significant difference between TH and Omaha Hi-Lo is the fact that schooling no longer protects the fish in Omaha. In TH, if you went up against four fish calling your bets on gutshot straights your chances of pushing home your trips would’ve been significantly diminished. The same doesn’t happen in Omaha. Schooling will be in your favor, and fish who do it against you, will be left completely uncovered. It is extremely unprofitable in Omaha to chase down open ended or gutshot straights. Do not make that mistake. Work with solid hands and have no fear of schooling.
In a nutshell: go in strong with high-positive expected value hands preflop. Do the same when the flop is shown. Analyze exactly where you’re at, with the flop showing, and work high-expectation hands aggressively.
The strategy is the same for the turn card ( the least important card of the game) Do not be afraid of the river. I’m not saying opponents will never outdraw you on the back door, but if you do everything in a mathematically correct way, it doesn’t really matter. You’ll clearly beat any lucky backdoor poker players in the long-run.