Omaha Hi/Lo Strategy 101.

TheStackman

TheStackman

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Hi guys!

I am new to posting here. When looking around, I see very little on the subject of Omaha H/L. With that in mind, I am going to post for those of you who are interested in the game but are a little intimidated. Some will disagree with my tips, and that is OK.

Who am I to be posting these tips? Well, that is a good question. I have been playing Omaha variants (pot-limit PLO, fixed limit FLO, omaha H/L both fixed FLO8 and pot-limit PLO8) since 2003. That is when I joined the DkBlue omaha poker Club and started playing with its members on Paradise Poker. The founder, Gus "DkBlue" Corso, was an Omaha addict and tried to build his private club games by educating players. Gus has passed on, and I have taken over leadership of the club. As a tribute to DkBlue's legacy, I continue to keep the games alive and I continue the tradition of teaching.

I am going to share some of our club posts on strategy in this thread. I may get a lot of players strongly disagreeing with the strategy I post--and that is OK. Hopefully there will be debates here and discussion. I would love to see the Omaha Poker community come alive here.

Stackman
 
TheStackman

TheStackman

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Starting Hands for PLO8/FLO8

These are your top tier hands and should stand up to any raise preflop:
Assume all the aces are suited. Double suited hands are stronger than just ace suited.
A-A-2-x
A-A-3-x
A-2-3-x
A-2-4-x
A-2-x-x
A-3-4-x
A-A-x-x (careful here! If at least one ace is not suited--this is a hand that can carry great risk. I do not suggest raising preflop with this hand!)
If any of the above hands are unsuited, evaluate your position relative to the button before calling any raises preflop.

Next tier has any A2xx, A3xx, any 4 cards from A-T (suited or unsuited), high pairs suited or connected and the ever dangerous 23xx. With 23xx, late position is better than early position and fold this hand unless you get trips on the flop or if the A does not flop.
Middle pairs and middle connected cards are asking for trouble. You are most times going to be outdrawn by the nut flushes out there, nut straights and full houses. Unless you are in one of the blinds and facing no raises--let that bone go! If you do not nail a good draw on the flop with your middle cards, or nail your nuts on the flop--let that bone go. If there are 2 suited cards on the flop and you make your middle straight but nut straight-------bet enough to get the flush draws to fold or you will be in trouble!
Final thought: Omaha Hi/Lo (especially pot limit) is a game of nuts. Always assume that if a flush hits, the nuts are probably out there. If there is a full house and someone is betting large, remember the the largest boat is probably out there. If you are calling a middling flush or straight--you had better have a good low to back it up! If there are several people in a pot--both the high and low nuts are probably out there. Don't be caught with second best on both ends. Let that bone go!
Stackman
 
TheStackman

TheStackman

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Random Thoughts from a mentor of mine which apply to Omaha games

Let go of the bone!
1. Don't chase unless you have a nut out and the pot odds justify a call. You are dealt 4 cards, you should wait for good cards and power bet (“pound it”) with nut hand flops. If you have a K high flush possibility and the pot has been bet and raised with a low already made; and, if you are hoping for half a pot, then you are in trouble. If it gets there, the possibility of an A-2 (suited on the ace) could pound you into the ground. If the board pairs with the suit, a full house probably is there. It's just a bad chase and will eventually leak all your money to other players.
2. Avoid leaking money by chasing non-nut outs.
3. Notice the value of a pair of tens. And, then look down to find real negative value in lower pairs. Small pairs will leak your money. Small pairs (22 through 88) are pretty much discounted when I look at a starting hand. If you happen to “flop” a set with your small pair you may only be a temporary leader. Larger pairs are waiting and a big or small straight has a card that reaches. Additionally, when you match your small pair, that pair undoubtedly helps the low draws. If you flop trips with a 2 through an 8, then a part of low has hit the table. Thus, even if this rag holds up, you'll probably need to split it with someone. And, you'll never feel good about the hand until it is over. Therefore, I don't consider the value of a pair unless it is 9 or above, and, then only in combinations with other cards.
4. I consider low pairs as a negative part of a starting hand. Kind of like a throw-a-way card that I’m saddled with. The only time I play low pairs is in combinations with great hands, generally with an A-2.
5. SAVE MONEY on bad starting hands. MUCK THEM before they turn into 2nd place and cost you money.
 
TheStackman

TheStackman

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Avoid Starting Hands That Finish Badly

Another good piece by a mentor

Avoid starting hands that finish badly.

1. I did a simulation with 1,000,000 random hands. The surprise; a pair is the lowest rated hand in Omaha. Do you know why are the 66, 77 and the 88 are such low rated pairs? When you think about it, the answer is simple; “they just go away”. When you consider a full table where 10 hands are dealt and each player gets four cards, then someone has cards that fit the flop. It could be a higher pair. So if a higher card falls and hits the higher pair you lose. Additionally, the 6, 7 and 8 are right in the middle of the pack. When they hit both higher and lower hands have straight shots. Finally, by the nature of the card (8 and below) a part of low has hit the board. Low players will doggedly call all bets determined to make the low hand. Thus, if the remaining part of low gets there, you will be splitting. If you happen to hit trip 7's on the flop it must be bet and raised. You just hope for a lower board pair. Otherwise proceed with caution.
2. The bottom win percentage patterns are dominated by middle cards. Cards that start as a straight lose to a higher straight. Flushes end up 2nd best. Pairs get beat by higher pairs. Trips get beat by higher trips and higher full houses. These are the cards that leak your money to others at the table and as starting hands they should be avoided like the plague.
3. Having said all that, any two great starting cards are only about 2 1/2 times better than any two horrible starting cards. Remember that 4 horrible starting cards still have 4 possibilities of getting quads on the flop. That's what makes Omaha a players game. And that's why in the short term the worst player in the world can beat the best player in the world. Bad starting cards can have short-term streaks of good luck.
4. The men’s room has an indentation just above the urinal. It fits my forehead exactly. So, when you're banging your head on the wall keep in mind that the key words are "luck" and "short term". It won’t get that last pot back; however, it might help you maintain your sanity.
 
TheStackman

TheStackman

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Sets (or Trips)

Trips: What kind of trips you hit will determine how you want to play this. If you have hit trip Aces or Kings, you are in great shape. If there is no flush or straight board--pound this hand to keep people from drawing their hand. Punish those players that would draw against you.
Your trips are the top set, but how high are they? What high cards could fall and leave your trips as the second best hand? It is best to check or call small bets if your trips are the top set but are not A,K,Q. This is especially true if there are three flush or straight cards on the board. If your opponent jams a pot bet you need to think a few seconds here. Factors to consider: If they have caught their straight or flush, do I have a low possibility to get me out of trouble here? If it is an all low board and you are holding the nuts or the board has 2 low cards and you have the nut low draw--it may be a safe call here as you have outs for both a boat and the low.
If your trips are low and you have a nut low on the flop--bet semi-aggressively here. You want a caller here as you are looking at a good possibility of scooping or at least quartering your opponent.
If your trips are middling cards, be careful! If you catch a boat there is a good possibility of being overboated by a higher set of trips. If someone bets aggressively here, you might be better off folding unless you have a low draw.
Pair is showing: This is a special consideration. The flop pairs up and it gives you trips. If the trips are A,K,Q--these are great just to bet pot, putt out and take the chips. However, sometimes you will get a call or a raise. Anyone calling tells you one of two things about your opponent: A. They have made the same trips themselves or they are already boated. In this case, you can only hope you boat with something better on the turn. If you miss there--get out. B. Your opponent has either a low draw and is foolishly chasing it or a high pair that they are foolishly chasing for a two outer overboat.

What about if your open trips are low? If you have a good low draw, it may be good to bet aggressive here. Take the pot right here if you can. If you have no low draw with your low trips, checking is not a bad play to get more information. Middling trips in this situation are trouble. If you have no low to fall back on, checking could be a good option here. This will give you the opportunity to improve your hand and will give you information on what your opponent is holding based on their bet.

No matter open trips or hidden trips--the best advice here is to play cautiously when you have middling trips.
Stackman







 
TheStackman

TheStackman

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Chasing Outs.

You have made it to the flop, maybe the turn--you have a draw. Do you chase your hand or not?
Let's talk about what you are chasing first:
The Nut Flush Draw (flop 2 of your suit): Omaha Hi/Lo is a game of nut flushes. When you have the nut flush draw (holding a suited A or if a suited A flops, the K suited), when do you chase? Always chase if you can get in cheaply. Your opponent checks or bets 1-2x BB--great time to chase unless the board is paired. If you have a nut or close to nut low draw and the nut flush draw, this is an excellent time to chase even if the board is paired.
The Non Nut Flush Draw (flop 2 of your suit): If you hit nut low here and have two small flush cards, this is always a hand you would chase. Your odds of scooping or quartering your opponent are very high with this play. If you have a nut low draw and two small flush cards, this is where you try to get in cheap. If your opponent pounds you, you may wish to yield to their trips or made straight.
The Straight Draw (two of your straight cards flop): Only chase your straight if you would have the nuts, a nut low or you have a combination of low and high straight. Do not chase against a board with 2 or 3 suited cards because, as I said, Omaha H/L is a game of flushes. Your opponent will most likely have you beaten with a flush or have more outs to their flush than you do for your straight. Never chase an inside straight! You have 4 outs at best.
2,3,4 Pair: Sometimes, the board will pair all of your cards and give you 2,3 or even 4 pairs to choose from. The more pairs you have, the higher the possibility of you getting a full house. If you can get in cheap or there is no flush or straight board, do try to track this one down. 2 pair gives you 6 outs, 3 pair gives you 9 outs and 4 pair will give you 12 outs to make your full house. Fold to aggressive bets on made straight or flush boards. If the board is rainbow and very little straight possibility--get a little aggressive on 3 pair or high 2 pairs. If you do have 2 high pair and your opponent is raising you--your opponent my have trips of the unpaired card. This could be a gold mine for you if you hit your boat, as your opponent will be betting and losing with a weaker boat.
Trips: You have trips. How high are they? If you have the top trips, it is hard to lay those bones down! If the board is a made flush or straight board, you will have to be very careful if your opponent bets aggressively. If your opponent is aggressive on a made flush board or made straight board--it might be better to fold and live to fight another day. If you can get in cheap on a made flush or straight board, do so! If the board has a straight draw or flush draw, be aggressive here and pound a pot bet or raise any aggression by your opponent. This should discourage them from chasing their draw. If you have middle or low trips on a made board, it is better to let those bones go. If you have middle or low trips on a flush or straight draw board, it is better to check to the turn. If your opponent does not get a flush or straight card on the turn, pump up the bet a little here. If your opponent is aggressive on a flush or straight draw board or even a rainbow board, consider that your opponent has the higher trips and do not tempt fate. If you have trips of any kind and a nut low or nut low draw--aggressive is not a bad play. If your low does not turn, be prepared to bail out.

Chasing a Low: Chasing a low by itself is never a good idea. You are chasing a hand that will most likely give you 50% of the pot at best. You should always have high hand opportunities. Best low chases will involve getting small straights, small flushes with nut low and the wheel. Always chase lows when you have trips, a nut flush draw or a nut straight draw. 2 pair and low chase is not a bad chase either. These are all chases that may scoop or quarter your opponent. However, if you cannot get in for free or cheap on a board that will give you a low draw only with no high--it is better to surrender and lay those cards down.
 
Acesinthebig

Acesinthebig

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Ok ok good thread, a lot here.... love Hi/Low! Will post some feedback when I have time.
 
Alex70793

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Why it is much more profitable to play A2 * * hands than all the others.
Many people play broadway hands as in hold'em, this is a mistake, because they give out 4 cards, and accordingly there are fewer outs in Omaha than in hold'em, very often I was personally convinced of this when the straight flush draw was not closed. With the A 2** hand, you are more likely to get into the flop, as with this hand you will often take both banks, and with the broadway hand you will only take the hi bank.
 
TheStackman

TheStackman

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Why it is much more profitable to play A2 * * hands than all the others.
Many people play broadway hands as in hold'em, this is a mistake, because they give out 4 cards, and accordingly there are fewer outs in Omaha than in hold'em, very often I was personally convinced of this when the straight flush draw was not closed. With the A 2** hand, you are more likely to get into the flop, as with this hand you will often take both banks, and with the broadway hand you will only take the hi bank.

In Omaha H/L, A2 is not only usually good for a low, it is also, in many cases, good for a wheel, good for a set--if it is suited, good for a nut flush. A2 is the foundation for good H/L play. Now, there are many players out there playing O8 that will play A2 no matter what the situation is--suited, unsuited, one low card on the flop etc. I call these players Ace Deucers. An absolutely naked A2 with no high possibilities plays for a max of half the pot--and could get quartered to death.

Most players will say A2sA3s is the best suited starting hand and then the second best is A2s34s. I would disagree strongly. I believe number 2 is A2sAKs.
 
MarlonCanada

MarlonCanada

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Thanks StackMan for taking the time to post this information. I have it on screen shot now. Currently learning at 2 4 cent limit at pokerstars.
 
flail1

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Thanks Stackman. Great stuff. I just learned I'm a 'Ace Deucer'. Also always liked playing 3,4,5,6 with 2 suits. Never again, TY
 
MarlonCanada

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These are your top tier hands and should stand up to any raise preflop:
Assume all the aces are suited. Double suited hands are stronger than just ace suited.
A-A-2-x
A-A-3-x
A-2-3-x
A-2-4-x
A-2-x-x
A-3-4-x
A-A-x-x (careful here! If at least one ace is not suited--this is a hand that can carry great risk. I do not suggest raising preflop with this hand!)
If any of the above hands are unsuited, evaluate your position relative to the button before calling any raises preflop.

Next tier has any A2xx, A3xx, any 4 cards from A-T (suited or unsuited), high pairs suited or connected and the ever dangerous 23xx. With 23xx, late position is better than early position and fold this hand unless you get trips on the flop or if the A does not flop.
Middle pairs and middle connected cards are asking for trouble. You are most times going to be outdrawn by the nut flushes out there, nut straights and full houses. Unless you are in one of the blinds and facing no raises--let that bone go! If you do not nail a good draw on the flop with your middle cards, or nail your nuts on the flop--let that bone go. If there are 2 suited cards on the flop and you make your middle straight but nut straight-------bet enough to get the flush draws to fold or you will be in trouble!
Final thought: Omaha Hi/Lo (especially pot limit) is a game of nuts. Always assume that if a flush hits, the nuts are probably out there. If there is a full house and someone is betting large, remember the the largest boat is probably out there. If you are calling a middling flush or straight--you had better have a good low to back it up! If there are several people in a pot--both the high and low nuts are probably out there. Don't be caught with second best on both ends. Let that bone go!
Stackman

StackMan, just wondering how the starting hands change if you have 6 players rather then 9 or 10? Thanks for this wonderful post.
 
D

David Gibson

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I have played a bit of Omaha.
I do fairly well. But I know that I am just getting lucky most of the time.

I would like to learn more. Like you have said, if you don't have the nuts, then someone else probably does.

I still have a hard time seeing and playing for the low pot. Just too used to always looking for high hand.

Are you going to get something going here or just keep it on your other site?
 
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