I have been playing - seriously - Omaha for the last month or so. Oddly enough, ever since I purchased Hold'em Manager. But that's another story.
I played mostly PLO cash games and not very successfully. Then I discovered PLO and O/8 MTTs, which seem to play to my strengths. As all you ladies know, my strengths are patience and discipline.
I am virtually tiltless - when sober - and I can play position. Lord knows...
Anyway, I have probably Final Tabled as many MTTs in the last month as I have FTed in four years of NLH. I just got knocked out by a three-outer, so I don't even think I am running so freakin' red hot. I just think I have found my venue, so to speak. I am old... it's not a moment too soon.
Below is a bunch of savvy knowledge I purloined from the Internet, which, as you all know, was invented by Al Gore. But enough about him... Please note, I am talking to beginners playing PLO at a low limit in an MTT. You don't play PLO like this in a cash game.
In Hold'em, there are 169 distinct hands. In Omaha, there are 16,432 different possible unique starting hands you can be dealt. When you are dealt four cards, you are really looking at six distinct hands. Ideally, all of your four cards work together.
Success in Pot Limit Omaha depends largely on the starting hands you choose to play. If anything, the edge a good player has over a bad player is higher in PLO than in NLH, which is excellent news if you’re the one with the edge.
The edge in a PLO MTT is often simply the cards with which you entered the pot. And as long as the structure of the tournament is good enough, you will have plenty of opportunities to exploit your opposition.
The top 10 Omaha starting hands are as follows:
Note: All hands in the top 10 must be double-suited.
In NLH, the best starting hand (A A) has an 83% preflop equity over the second-best hand (K K). In Omaha the best starting hand (A A K K) is only 33% to win (41% to tie) against the second-best hand (A A T J). There is a 6% edge for the best Omaha hand to win against the second-best Omaha hand, versus a 66% edge in NLH.
The best Omaha starting hand is AA-KK double-suited. The odds of actually being dealt that hand are 50,000-1 against. Even such a powerful hand is just a 3-2 favorite to win against 8765 double-suited.
In addition to the top 30, you will want to play wraps, hands like 8-9-10-J, which can result in nice straights. Ideally, you will have 2 cards of the same suit, as this is the only way you can possibly hit a flush.
In Omaha, players rarely having a strong edge over their opponents. Rarely will you find yourself with over 60% equity HU. Each additional player reduces your equity immensely. The lesson here? Play good hands and nothing else until... Well, you'll know when.
Omaha is considered to be a "nut game". This means your chances for straights and flushes are more important than high cards. Minimize losses. When you lose, lose the minimum amount, and when you win, win the maximum.
In MTTs, especially early, I try to get involved risking the least chips possible before deciding if I plan to move forward post-flop. Check for rocks before you dive in. Let your opponents play trash. Leave weak and marginal hands out of your game. Watch what hands your opponents show down. And there will plenty of showdowns to inspect.
Look for the NLH players who don't yet know - or care - about the 6 possible hands. You don't have to be Stephen Hawking to comprehend you have more of a chance to win with six hands than one or two. A-A-rag-rag rainbow is hardly better than fertilizer. A-A-A-rag is also plant food. Lay it down and wait for an actual Omaha hand.
If an opponent pushes pre-flop, especially out of position, he will typically have A-A. Especially in a low limit MTT. How does your hand play against top pair??
It is difficult to get your opponents to fold, so bluffing is ill advised, especially for those new to Omaha. And don't get worried about being bluffed.
Look for reasons not to complete your small blind. Position is even more important in PLO than NLH, so avoid entering the pot OOP. Even if there are only two players yet to act, that is still a dozen potential hands to defeat.
Essentially, PLO is a post-flop game. With four cards, no hand going to be a huge favorite over any other hand pre-flop, but the pot-limit nature of the game usually prevents all of the money going in before the flop. PLO focuses upon making solid post-flop decisions; this is where your edge lies.
The ultimate overpair is, of course, A-A. A-A in PLO can be more trouble than they are worth; as a new player, you will undoubtedly go broke with them more times than you care to imagine. Try to get in the mindset of only playing your big pairs in PLO for set value, and learn to ditch them immediately if you face any sort of resistance post-flop. Doing so will immediately improve your game 100%.
You’re given four cards, might as well use them all. Sets are so vulnerable you’re not a guaranteed winner, even if you do hit your hand. Boats, flushes, straights...that's where the glory lies.
PLO is all about connecting hard with the flop. PLO is a game of the nuts. Straights, flushes, sets, full houses – they’re commonplace, so don’t be too surprised to see your Queen-high flush or your bottom straight drawing dead when the cards are turned over.
With this in mind, only chase draws if you are confident you are drawing to the best hand. You don’t want to pay to hit a card that may lose you a big pot.
For the same reason, small pocket pairs should only be played as part of a strong combo hand with both straight and flush potential. These lower pairs are unlikely to make top set when they do connect with the flop.
Small sets can be some of the most costly hands in PLO, as the danger of someone having a higher set is far higher than in NLH. If you see the flop with a small pair, proceed with caution. As a general rule, don’t play pairs lower than nines or tens for set value.
Position is more important in PLO as bets, calls, checks and raises give away much more reliable information. There are few hands that can afford to give free cards. With four cards in each of your opponents’ hands, the chances of being outdrawn are high, meaning only the strongest hands or the safest of boards are suitable for slow-playing. The information you receive from betting decisions made by the players who act before you is much more reliable than in NLH.
Patience is not just about card selection. It's easier to come off a shortstack deep in a tournament in PLO and still win the tournament than in NLH.
A disciplined shortstack strategy is important and overlooked by many who become too willing to gamble in bad spots when short.
If there are three to a suit on board, you can almost always assume someone has the flush in Omaha; a paired board yields a very high probability of a full house, whereas that would only be a minor concern in NLH.
Tight-passive players are less likely to be steamrolled in PLO than in NLH. Reduced opportunity for bluffing reduces how effectively you can bully a passive player.
Respect displays of strength. Players making large bets in Omaha are far less likely to be bluffing than the same caliber of players in NLH.
Do not get "married" to an eight-out straight draw: in Omaha, it is possible to flop 13-out, 17-out and 20-out straight draws. Better wait until you hold one of these draws before you heavily involve yourself in the pot.
Do not overplay unsuited aces: when all you hold are a pair of aces and two unsuited, unconnected rags, there is little you can flop to improve your hand. If you do not flop your set, you're not going to hold up often in a multi-way pot. The potential to have upward of 20 outs in Omaha allows for drawing hands to be statistically ahead of made hands.
Common Mistakes in PLO include overplaying "Hold'em strength" hands... calling with weak holdings and low-outs draws when facing a bet...playing too many starting hands..
What hands to play pre-flop?
1. All top 30 hands with at least one suit and most of the time when offsuit.
2. All suited A-K-x-x with at least one x-card, 10 or higher.
3. All double-suited four in a row of hands, five or higher.
4. All double-suited connected hands, five or higher, with a maximum of one gap between the top two and the two low cards or between the low card and the three high cards. An example is K-Q-T-9 double-suited and J-9-8-6 double-suited.
5. All K-K-x-x double-suited.
As with any poker advice, these are just guidelines to give you a place to start from. The hands you raise and limp with will change depending on your table, your image, your skill and the skill of your opponents. A hand should not be considered made until the river. The nuts on the flop means very little after the final two streets fall.
It is seldom wrong to bet out with top set in a short-handed pot, even though the board looks scary.
Remember, anytime you flop a set, you have about a 34% chance of improving to a full house on the turn and river combined.
Cliff Notes. If you start playing PLO now, you will be ahead of the game.
And the crowd. It's that simple.