Pot-Limit Omaha Hi Starting Hand Selection
Pot-Limit Omaha is quite a unique game. It is more commonly played in Europe than it is in North America. Overall, it’s no where near as popular as Texas Hold’em, but players are becoming attracted to the game in increasing numbers, especially the more recreational players.
For those unaware, the game of Omaha is structured by distributing four hole cards to each player, in which any two can and must be used. The community cards are revealed the same as in Texas Hold’em, with the flop, turn and river. However, of the cards on the board, each player can and must choose any three to play.
In other words, you must use two from your hand and three from the board to make the best possible hand that you can. It is the additional hole cards received and the variety of hands that can be made or built that differs from Hold’em and is appealing to many players.
When discussing strategy in playing pot-limit Omaha as compared to Texas Hold’em, the first noticeable point to be made is that starting hand selection will be quite different. The obvious factor is that you’ll be looking at four hole cards in your hand instead of two, being able to choose any two that you desire in order to make the best possible hand.
Naturally, this lends itself to a greater number of possibilities in obtaining the winning hand. Sometimes pre-flop you’ll be leaning toward using your two best cards, but the texture of the flop may see you changing directions and using the other cards in your hand instead.
In Hold’em, the premium starting hands you’re looking for are A-A, K-K, Q-Q, A-K. In Omaha, while seeing A-A or K-K in your hand is, of course, good, it is not the premium hand that it is in Hold’em. Part of the reason for this is that holding only top pair will hardly ever win in Omaha.
You have More Choices
Because of the additional cards in your hand and the ability to pick and choose, there is a much greater likelihood of seeing the winning hand being at least two pair, with straights, flushes and full houses even more likely. In other words, the starting hand value of A-A is not as good in Omaha as it is in Hold’em. If you are dealt A-A in Omaha and you don’t catch another Ace on the board, odds are that your top pair will not be holding up as the winning hand.
Your A-A would be a good starting hand if you also have something like K-10 with at least one of those the same suit as one of your Aces. That way you have more possibilities of winning the hand with nut flush and Ace-high nut straight possibilities.
You should raise pre-flop in such instances, as your pocket rockets no longer stand alone and your odds of winning are increased with the other options of making a winning hand.
Successful starting hand selection in Pot-Limit Omaha is centered around making the nut hand. Because of the added hole cards received by players, the winning hands in Omaha are usually much stronger than in Hold’em.
Your goal is to hold the nut flush, nut straight or a higher full house than your opponents. You also have to keep in mind that holding a flush, if it is not the nut, is going to be susceptible to losing to a higher flush. That goes the same for a straight.
Looking for the Nuts
The emphasis on holding the nut hand in Omaha is the main factor in starting hand selection. In order to make the nut or as close to the nut as possible, you are looking for hands that can coordinate with themselves. Upon seeing the community cards, the best hands are those that can build the nut hand in several different ways.
You are trying to avoid hands that may end up being second best, such as a lower straight or flush. When evaluating your Omaha starting hand pre-flop, look for several key elements. First of all, high pocket pairs are basically good for building a full house, but keep in mind they may be worthless if you don’t connect with a set.
Connecting cards are also helpful, such as something like Q-10-9-8. But again,watch out for higher straights. Also, if the board should pair up, you would then find yourself in trouble to a possible full house.
Playing Suited Hands
Suited cards, if you’re holding the Ace or King are good, but less than that requires caution. You don’t want to be calling pot-sized bets with the second-best flush. Mid or low pocket pairs should likewise be treated cautiously because if you hit a set, you may lose to a higher set.
Pot-limit allows you to bet the amount already in the pot at any time. This differs from no-limit in that you are bound by the constraints of the pot size. If you are playing online, most sites will usually restrict the amount you can sit down at the table with by imposing a table maximum depending upon the table stakes or blind levels
. This takes away a bit of the bullying, aggressive style that certain players tend to employ in no-limit games. In pot-limit Omaha betting, it’s always important to be aware of the additional drawing options of players who are holding more cards and have a greater likelihood of drawing a winning hand than in Texas Hold’em.
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