I have been trying to get the world to play Omaha poker for the past 40 years. I have been playing the game for so long around the country and all over the world, and I have made a few observations I would like to share with new and beginning players of $4/$8 and $6/$12 Omaha Hi/Lo games.
I have spent the past year consulting with Hollywood Park Casino in Los Angeles to establish a $4/$8 Omaha Hi-Lo game and a $6/$12 Big O game. It has been successful so far, and the future looks even brighter especially now that the St. Louis Rams announced they are moving back to Los Angeles to the Hollywood Park property.
Can you imagine 20,000 fans tailgating a few yards from these Omaha poker games? When legendary golfer Lee Trevino became eligible for golf’s Senior Tour, he said something to the effect that, “They just gave me the keys to the golden city!” He also said I have been waiting over 30 years for this chance. I feel the same way.
Omaha: Game of the Future
Now let’s talk about a few strategy tips that might help you. First, I believe it’s time for hold’em players to add Omaha to their arsenal. For you hold’em players who look at Omaha as a foreign language, it’s just hold’em played with four cards in your hand. Simply pick two of your four cards to make your best hand, just like in hold’em. In Big O, the only difference is you are dealt five cards, but you still must play only two of your five cards.
What really seems to confuse hold’em players is the concept of Omaha being “a game of the nuts,” meaning you don’t call on the river with the second or third best hand. The nuts is the nuts, and there is no guesswork. In hold’em you are never sure if your hand is strong enough; in Omaha you know exactly where you are. If you don’t have the nuts, fold.
A challenge for players transitioning from hold’em to Omaha is learning how to deal with the added element of the low in a split game. In order for the game not to have so many split pots, the qualification for the low hand is five cards lower than an eight. What that means is three cards below eight must be on the board, otherwise there is no low, and the high-side winner gets all of the pot.
Another challenging aspect when first learning Omaha Hi/Lo is the situation that often arises called “counterfeiting your low.” It’s confusing even for the best players, and it is even harder to write about. Say you are trying to make the lowest possible hand using your two best low cards, an ace and a deuce. If the board reads 3, 4, 5, you have a five card-straight or a “wheel,” the best possible low.
On the other hand, say you have the same ace deuce in your hand, and the board reads 5, 6, 8 and a deuce comes on the river, your deuce got counterfeited, and now you have a bad low.
Because of all of these possibilities, Omaha gives bad players many opportunities to chase and make mistakes, and Big O gives them even more. As a winning player, it is your job to capitalize on other players’ weaknesses and tendencies. You can tell who’s chasing the low, who is on a draw, who is gambling and who doesn’t know what they’re doing. There are so many calling stations in Omaha, it’s almost like playing poker with your opponents’ hands face up.
There are two more tips I want to share for low-limit Omaha games. One is never raise pre flop unless you have a premium hand like double ace, two, three, and you’re in position. Instead, save these chips to see the turn, then step up your game aggression. By raising preflop, you think you are pot building, but Omaha is entirely different from hold’em. Save your chips for monster hands that you’re a lock to win either part or all of the pot.
My last tip is that although Omaha is called a game of the nuts, you can still bluff. If you can read tells, especially on people’s faces, you will see they give away so much information. You can bet and steal pots when you can tell players missed their lows or draws. They are trying to surrender, and all you have to do is bet and take it when their cards failed to materialize.
Super Bowl 50 and Omaha
With the Super Bowl 50 being played this weekend, it got me to thinking why does Peyton Manning yell Omaha at the line of scrimmage? He is trying to tell poker players, especially hold’em players, to learn a new game.
You can improve your Omaha game and make extra money using these tips. If you are new to Omaha, all you have to do is get in a game. Nothing replaces experience and practice. See you at the tables.
Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and casino/billiard marketing expert. Robert is most well-known for creating the game of Omaha poker and introducing it to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995. He also helped create Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.
He has spent over 30 years in casino marketing and player development. He has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM. He is currently working as a casino consultant.
Robert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for consulting, marketing and coaching. Find Robert on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thechipburner and on Twitter @thechipburner. Subscribe to Robert’s blog “Beyond the Numbers” to receive notifications of new posts by email.