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Poker advice and news from Dave Colcough of Bet365 Poker

Poker Advice Archive >>

Omaha High

Written by: Dave Colclough (2005-01-07 01:48:24)

The more adventurous beginners amongst you, will have noticed the Omaha tables on This article is a brief introduction to the subtleties of Omaha High. A future article will concentrate on Omaha Hi-Low, which is a completely different game.

The principle difference between Omaha and Hold'em is that the dealer gives each player four cards in Omaha, as opposed to two. The game is then the same as Hold'em as far as the communal board goes; an initial three 'flop' cards, followed by 'the turn' and then 'the river'.

The other principle difference is that the players must use exactly two cards from their hand, and three from the communal board. So if a player holds AKK9 and the board read A K 4 6 J, the player's best hand is three kings (using the two kings from his hand), and not a full house (he can not also use the Ace from his hand as well).

The extra cards in each player's hand, result in the average winning hand being far greater in Omaha than Hold em. This is the problem that most Hold em players fail to get to grips with when playing Omaha. With the above hand, three kings would normally win in Hold'em, whereas it would often lose in Omaha to someone holding 10Q (a straight).

You have to therefore be slightly more careful when playing Omaha. When holding the three kings in the above example, it would be prudent to check on the river, especially if you are facing more than one opponent. Omaha is usually played Pot Limit as opposed to fixed Limit. So, often, the player may be faced with a very tough call should an opponent bet the full pot on the river.
Competition Omaha is vastly different to cash game Omaha in that it provides opportunity to play many more starting hands. If you wish to try the Omaha cash tables as a change to the usual Hold em though, again it is best to be very selective over your starting hands. So here are a few pointers:

The best starting hands are considered to be AAJ10, AAKK, AA9,10 'double suited', which mean that you may have A9 of spades and A10 of hearts. This is a very powerful hand where you are drawing at two 'nut' flushes, top trips (Aces) and several straights with the 910.

All other starting hands should be 'connected' in some way, such as 5689, 9JJQ, JQKA. Again it is best if these hands are 'double suited'. 'Connected' hands have more winnings combinations; it's as simple as that.

Avoid 'danglers' such as JJ93, where you are playing a three-card hand. (the 3 is the 'dangler')

Double paired hands such as JJ88 are also reasonable hands to play. Your chances of flopping a 'set' are greater than 28%. You have to be careful though. Omaha often produced three Jacks against three Kings scenarios. And of course a 'set' is far from a guaranteed winner in Omaha.

Broken hands such as 46JQ should be dumped at the earliest opportunity.
Communal boards which show a pair such as A K 4 6 6 will probably result in a player showing a full house to take the pot.

If a communal board shows three of a suit, then the winning hand will usually be at least a flush.

The winning hand will usually be a straight, if a board reads J Q K 6 4. A player will show 9,10 or A10.
The winning hand will certainly be a straight if the board reads 10 J Q 4 6. There are now three straight possibilities; 89, 9K and KA.
If you don't have the 'nuts' think twice before you open the betting.
If you are calling with a drawing hand on the flop, make sure that you are drawing at the 'nuts'. Don't call with a King flush draw only to find another opponent was calling with an Ace flush draw.

The usual problem that Omaha rookies face is the temptation of playing too many hands. Don't do it. Give Omaha a go. It's interesting... but let's be careful out there.

See you next week,



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