Thinking About How to Think About Omaha
> Badger wrote...
> > What matters is the probability of winning on the flop, not who is at the
> > moment in the lead. Even thinking in terms of "flopped hands" is an
> > incorrect concept in Omaha. The idea, usually, is about having a hand on
> > the river, and the probability of making that hand. Whether you flop a
> > made hand or a draw or a backdoor draw is irrelevant, what matters is
> > your prospects, your probabilities, of having the winning hand on the river.
> Once again Badger shows why his name is commonly near or at the top of
> tournament money lists. Omaha is a river game. The best hand is the one
> that wins when all the cards are on the table.
I know what you mean, but I think when other people call Omaha a "river game" they are missing the point like those who talk
about "flopped hands". The worst offenders wait to the river to bet, until they know they are going to win (or lose). That's
just not sensible or profitable. Omaha is not a "river game", it is a game of
preparation. You want to *have* the hand
on the river, not necessarily make it there.
Windows - Mac
Before the flop, you play hands that have a high expectation, you manipulate the pot size before the flop if you can, you try to
manipulate your opponents so when you have a hand that plays well against fewer opponents you are playing against fewer opponents and
when you have a hand that plays well against a full field you are playing against a full field.
Then comes the flop. In Omaha the flop is critical. Not in some shortsighted "flopped hands" way, but in how a player then can
calculate the probabilities and deduce how favorable their chances now are. Again here a player should be manipulating the pot -- get
more chips in when the odds very much favor you, try to minimize when you have a longer shot.
The turn is the least important aspect of Omaha but it is the end of the main
math parts of the game. In a loose game, you can pretty much
calculate precisely your chances of winning some or all of the pot.
Whether a player then makes or doesn't make their hand on the river really doesn't matter. You do everything right mathematically up
to this point, and lose to a one outer, fine, just do the same things again and again. Omaha (and all the other games) is about the
But don't think what just happened was an aspect of a "river game". All the truly important stuff is what happened before that river
card bad-lucked against the math.
Put another way, if you are playing a coin flip game against a guy, and he says he'll give you $5 for every time it comes up heads,
but you have to give him $1 for every time it comes up tails, and the coin or the flipping isn't rigged, it would be wrong to refer to
this situation as "a flip game." The key part of the game was in the pre-negotiation, not in the flip itself.
KK Double-Suited in Omaha8
> After the flop, people aren't continuing with absolute trash.
Of course they do. All the time. That's what makes Omaha8 so mindlessly profitable. People call bets from players with 20 outs, when
they only have four outs, or less. Despite the definite reverse profitability of
schooling in Omaha8, players do it all the time.
> The more players in the hand (and the larger the pot on the flop), the more
> chance your set gets outdrawn.
And this is a good thing! C'mon, so a player calls a bet with a one card straight-flush draw. If that player folded you would win the
pot more often, but win less money. You shouldn't care how often you lose a pot, only what your $ expectation should be over an
> This hand's profitability (which may well be negative in the best conditions)
> likely declines as the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth player enter the pot.
Nonsense. The enemy of KK as top set, or any strong Omaha hand, is the first two callers. On a flop of KQ7 for example, we are afraid
of wrap draws. That's the first caller (or two, and of course the more the better because they all have their own cards and are far
less likely to make the draw). Then we have open end straight draws. We are the favorite over those (and all the rest of the draws).
Next are back door flush draws. They win about 5% of the time. Then we worry about backdoor straight draws around the seven. A very
lame draw. Yes, the 8th or 9th player entering the pot may beat us with such a backdoor straight, but we welcome their contribution to
the pot! They are giving us money in the
At the very worst, if we assume we don't win unless we fill up, and we don't fill up on the turn, we will have 10 outs of the 44
possible cards, meaning we will fill up 23% of the time. Even if we lose to quads the 3% part of that, that's still a 1 out of 5 win
percentage, for a scoop, getting 7, or 8, or 9 way action.
We **LOVE** those seventh, eighth and ninth players!
And then all this ignores our own backdoor values of the one card queen for a straight and draws at two king high flushes. Especially
the flush draws destroy some of the power of the 7th, 8th and 9th callers. The baby flush draws in our suits are contributing totally
dead money on that aspect of their hands.
Finally, the other thing about this hand is it is a good one to raise with (as a "vary your play" play) in position if you get
several limpers. People will tend to put a solid player on A23 or something like that, giving you a little extra value when you do flop your
hand, and an occasional free card on flops like 47J.
Badger wrote ...
> > This question is KK, not QQ or JJ. The difference between these three
> > hands is very large -- something like the difference between (KK)=100 and
> > (QQ)= 40 and (JJ)=15.
> It isn't as large as you think, since in a loose game you need to hit your set.
"Hitting a set" is a minor part of the relative value of KK QQ and JJ. KKK can win half the the pot unimproved as the nuts reasonably
often. QQQ can be the nuts in a tiny few ways. JJJ can *never* be the nuts. KKK will be able to win unimproved more often than QQQ
even when there is a straight on board. With KK there is only one overpair, and only one type of full house that beats it, aces full.
QQ has to worry about KK and AA. JJ has to worry about QQ KK and AA.
Flopping a set in Omaha usually is merely flopping a draw. Omaha is a game of nut draws. KK has much less to worry about on a K92 or
K72 flop than JJ has on a J92 or J72 flop.
The difference between KK and JJ is enormous both in terms or winning potential, and amount won, since KK can drive the betting in a
lot of pots that JJ can't -- like on a turn board of KQQ7 versus a board of JQQ7. The difference between those two situations is,
KK is a major Omaha holding. JJ is a minor one that should only be played in conjunction with some stronger holding. KKxx will hold
it's own in a loose game. JJxx will lose significantly.
> > KKQ2 double suited is even better than what I posted on (only one suit).
> > This hand will scoop about 150% the amount of pots a random hand will
> > when played against a 9-handed field. (It'll scoop about 10% of the time,
> > and get half another 10% or so.)
> Showdown simulations are basically worthless. Even in loose games,
> you aren't against totally random hands, and hands that miss the flop
> don't automatically go to the end.
In a loose, basically typical, Omaha game, you *are* against literal random hands. Omaha simulations are much more accurate
reflections of reality than Holdem ones. Also, KKQ2 double suited actually gets *better* if you assume many players are in a pot,
and not playing random hands -- the likelihood is that Aces and baby cards are out disproportionately.
> (And you don't stick around in many cases where your hand would hit
> backdoor outs). The question is also how much a hand wins when it wins and
> loses when it loses. When you flop a set in a pot that was unraised preflop
> and there is only one low card on board, you get won't much action.
Two replies to this... 1) you will always get action on a KQ7 flop; 2) more importantly, who cares about action?! Take the pot and be
glad. If I can win 8 bets on a KQ7 flop, I'll gladly take them! Since you flop a set in the neighborhood of once in eight times, just
playing for this minimal result is not a revenue loss. Of course, in the real world you will normally get significant action, and the
KK will be the favorite over a field, and will only ever be much of a dog in the rare instance of being headup against a hand like
Certainly when the first card of a flop is a K, KK will have a positive expectation in a typical Omaha hand. So, if you are getting
six/seven/eight to one odds on it, KK is good on it's own. And the hand we are discussing has significant strengths in addition to
*just* the KK.
> You'll only get significant action when low cards hit the board and on many of
> those hands you'll lose to flushes or low straights or at least only get half the pot.
If you don't have a made top full house, or an uncounterfeitable nut low with redraws, who cares about, or wants, "action" in
Omaha? So you lose the whole pot sometimes, and half the pot other times? If you are getting six way action, and losing half the time,
you are still making a lot of money. An Omaha player shouldn't be concerned about losing pots. That's defeatist tunnelvision. An Omaha
player should be concerned with getting money in with the best of it time and time and time again, and then letting the math take care
of things in the long-run. You just can't turn down a hand that scoops at such a high rate.
> It scoops small pots and loses ones that cost it
> do turn down hands like this, for the reasons I stated. Low draws and suited
> aces benefit from multiway action, while hands like this don't play well
> against large fields.
"Experts" can play some hands average players can not, but this not an example of that. Low draws and suited aces do prefer multiway
obviously. They are good hands. But KsKdQs2d loves a big field! The hand should be mucked with only one or two opponents. (Oh, and
scooping a small pot sure is generally better than splitting a midsize pot!)
How to Read the Value of Low Omaha Hands
The lowest/best possible hand is a 54321. Or 54,321.
The highest/worst possible qualifying low hand is 87654. Or 87,654.
Read your low hand as a number, starting with the highest card and work down.
The player with the hand/number closest to 54,321 wins.
Low Limit Omaha vs. Texas Hold'em
> Assuming the most important strategy decision is
> (which I personally believe), are lower limit Omaha games typically
> more fishy than holdem or stud?
Bad players have virtually no chance to beat Omaha over any meaningful period of time, but they can win big pots, and have really good
sessions. This is true of Holdem too but to a much
smaller degree because Holdem edges are generally small in loose games. Weak Holdem players can school together and get pot odds and
therefore not be playing so bad, or as bad. On the other hand, there is no parallel schooling phenomenon in Omaha. In Omaha, it is
very often the case to have five players drawing stone cold dead and for two players to have all the outs between them (for example,
on the turn the nut flush and the top set are the only live hands, and five other players with two pairs and baby flushes are drawing
Omaha is a game of massive edges, Holdem is a game of smallish edges. Low limit Omaha games are the easiest poker games to beat -- if
you play properly. Most players do not have the ability, or more important, the desire to play properly in the low limit Omaha games.
If you are just concerned about money and proper game selection though, Omaha is the place to play because it is cheaper (less
bankroll), more profitable (higher hourly win rates) and has weaker players playing much more poorly. It's deadly dull tho.
Folding Pete wrote...
> Before the flop. Obviously you are told that you should play four
> coordinated cards before the flop (with an Ace yada yada yada).
> These don't arrive very often (four high cards seem more frequent).
> In Ray Zee's books he also recommends playing A2xx if the game is
> loose. How tight should you play in these games? I play a lot of three
> or two legged horses. In late position I will probably play A2xx, KKxx,
> A34x and possibly AAxx (XX being crud). In early position I will throw
> away all of the above except maybe A34x. High cards I will play any four,
> ten or above, in any position. In mid position I will play A26x. Is this
> too tight or too loose? After calling a bet I won't fold to a single raise.
If as you describe your game 50% of the people take the flop every time I can't imagine why you would fold any of those hands for one bet, ever
(except the worst KKxx's in early position). And the "four cards working together" idea is just nonsense, A2KQ is a fine hand).
> I have heard two different opinions on whether raising before the
> flop is right or wrong. Some people say it is a drawing game and raising
> merely adds to your fluctuation whilst adding little to your profit (Ray Zee).
Ray is not writing about these kind of games and the sooner people realize that the better. If you play a game where the best two
hands dealt plus the big blind are the ones seeing the flop every time, raising brings a little profit at the random-hand big blind's
expense, but it's nothing to get worked up over. But if five players are commonly taking the flop, this is where your clearest profit
is in Omaha. This is why low limit or loose game Omaha is mindlessly profitable, winning extra bets preflop from hands that are
> Raising also earmarks you as holding AA or A2.
It sure the heck shouldn't!!
> Badger says that you should punish the bad players by raising preflop a lot.
> At the moment I would tend to raise with hands A26x suited, A25x and better.
> I will only raise in late position for value against two or more limpers. One other
> advantage is that you may buy the button. Again is this profitable?
What is profitable is getting more money in the pot when you have the best of it, both in actual winning expectation and in terms of
the implied betting.
> On the flop if it is checked to me in late position I tend to bet if
> I have the nut low draw (even A2xx) only.
Ick. Free draws for the half or one-quarter of the pot should be welcomed with open arms.
> I think it was Buzz who said that the money is made in Omaha on the turn.
> I think this is correct.
It may be true for some players but it sure shouldn't be in loose games. Make your money before the flop, make it on the flop. On the
turn you make money from people drawing dead and drawing slim, but these opportunities are more rare than the VERY common situation of
having way the best of it before the flop.
> This brings me to my next point regarding nut lows (without
> counterfeit protection) on the turn. Do you jam? How many players
> do you need to jam? Obviously you may get an inkling if another player
> has the same hand. Badger in general says not to worry
> unduly about being quartered.
Yes, you should not be overly worried about it, but if you only have a low with no protection, why are you liking your hand at all? If
there are six players, then you wouldn't be thinking about getting quartered in any case. If there are two opponents, you are hardly
making any money in the best case (winning a half bet for each bet you make). If you have a draw or shot at the high, then let's go.
But a naked low isn't much of a hand, even if it is the nuts.
> Outs. I play two [online] tables at a time so I don't go into any great
> depth in calculating outs in the hand. I need to tighten up on this.
Omaha is all about outs. If you aren't doing that, then playing two tables is foolish for you.
> Calling a raise in the blinds. Some have said you should loosen up
> considerably in the blinds but how loose? I would have to think about
> calling with A3xx. I would probably fold AAxx as I would assume the
> raiser had an ace (unless shorthanded).
Ick. There are no monsters under the bed.
What Do They Have?
Lee Munzer wrote...
> I think I had the barest minimum requirement to play this hand
> and wouldn't argue with anyone who said, "Muck it."
You playing in a game using wild cards? Mucking this hand is terrible.
> Raising with this weak hand from my position with these
> opponents would be incorrect.
C'mon. What do you think the other players have? Unless you are up against some rare situation, you have the best hand. Folding is
pitiful. Calling is weak. Raising is the correct play. You can sum up why Omaha games are so profitable simply by realizing that most
players would rather play 2347 in this situation than AAT9. And God bless them.
> Dry aces can be real drainers in O/8 and should be mucked frequently, played
> carefully occasionally, and sometimes aggressively -- if many fold and you
> have late position. Thinking about dry aces conceptually, start by comparing
> the hand to the premier hold'em hand (A-A) and then *severely* downgrade
> it because your opponents may have six coordinated two card hands
> that could beat you for high and/or take half the pot with their low (there
> will be a low board 6 out of 10 hands). So, often you will be put in the
> position you usually don't want to be in ... calling for a card that will
> deliver only half the pot. I say "usually" because in loose, passive games
> you may be getting the right pot odds to fight for half the pot.
So in this vortex your opponents are never in a position "calling for a card that will deliver only half the pot"? How do you come to
this upside down thinking? You should know what percentage of the time a low is even possible, and then you should have some idea
about how often a low is possible on the river that it isn't made by the turn. And then you should have some idea about how often
ace-less low drawers will have to muck their 23 draw on the turn (and if they don't, how great that is for you in general).
Don't fixate on your own cards. There are plenty of better hands than this one, but they seldom are in play when this hand is in play.
There aren't a bunch of wild cards in the deck. If you have five or six opponents, fine. If you end up with just the two limpers in
front of you, you have either slightly the best of it or way the best of it if you have a 2347 sucker in the pot.
> I think the other players have the type of stuff low limit Omaha players
> call raises with ... ugly stuff like 2d-4d-5c-7s and Js-10h-9h-9d and
> A-3-6-J double suited -- even worse from the BB. I realize I'm the high
> only favorite over any of their prospective hands, but, (I hate to give
> Badger the following info) Omaha is a game of scoops! 60% of the time a low
> will be possible. 40% of the time I will scoop the pot with my unimproved aces.
This is one of the exceptions. You choose to dominate the T9 by giving a player T99 (plus a jack). This takes a lot of scoops away
from the AAT9 and turns them into splits, as well as crippling the pair value of the T9.
You want to play this hand against "good hands" and low garbage. You prefer people playing total crap like J987 to fold. These
players lose money by playing, but they hurt the AA9T and help the suited and low hands. We prefer to thin the field to get the bricks
on our side. The hand does better against *good* hands than against random hands, similar to how you would rather play 7s6s against AdAc
instead of playing the normally "good" hand of AhKc. Still, even if the crap hands come in, we have a bettable and scoopable hand.
Raising is important to try and get the preferable situation of isolating against the normally "good" hands that play poorly against
AA. If the junk hands come, it's not as good but still okay. Looking at the flop
cheaply is backwards. More specifically, most
players like to play low cards in raised pots. We want to play against all the low card hands, but not the big (or middle) card hands.
> It's not a matter of being fixated on the four cards as much as being
> asphyxiated by the variety of hands and flops
that place A-A-10-9 in
> tenuous positions.
What difference does that make? Again, don't fixate on your cards. If your opponents are in worse shape than you, this is good, not a
problem. You need to look at how the group of your opponents hands play in a hand including your hand. Three way action, five way
action, whatever, create hands and situations, simulate them or don't. Just don't fixate on one hand and not think about the
opponents' hands. You need to think about the garbage the other players are holding while putting money into a pot.
Some people think "woe is me" when they have QQ in loose Holdem games. Yes, you lose a lot of the time, but your hand has a positive
expectation. Mucking it because often you "don't know where you are" is simply terrible poker. Fixating on the weaknesses of your own
hand is missing the point that 75o, 24s and the other hands have a helluva lot more weaknesses than QQ.
> It is not ludicrous to state, "Tenuous positions cost you money.
> Not knowing where you're at costs you money."
I'm sorry, it is ludicrous. The QQ example should have made that clear. Knowing where you are is not a "costs you money" thing. You
can "know where you are" when you flop quads, and that can hurt you. If other players "don't know where they are" either,
then where is this mythical money going that every player is being "cost"?
> In the Southern California 3/6 Omaha8 games I have seen, most weakies will
> call ANY number of bets preflop with any pair, 23xx, 24xx, 34xx, and other
> garbage, so raising won't get the desired result of getting these hands out.
Don't misunderstand. Raising and getting them out can be preferable to them calling a raise, but raising and having them call can
still be preferable to not raising and having them call.
It's a matter of degrees. Ideally you want to raise and play against the hands that play the absolute worst against you, whatever they
are. Just because some hand also calls that lowers your expectation doesn't mean raising was wrong. It will often still be better than
calling. You can't shoot that guy and make him not call.