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Omaha Strategy

Omaha differs from Hold'em in two ways. One, each player is dealt four hole cards instead of two. And two, you must use precisely two of these hole cards when making your final hand.

The good news is that you can make use of six different combinations of hole cards when making a hand, providing a greater degree of certainty as to whether your hand will be a winner. Unlike Hold'em, which is a game of random accuracy, Omaha is a game of the nuts.

Starting hands

In Omaha, the strength of your hole cards depends on those cards giving you the chance to benefit from multiple outcomes. So, strong starting hands give you plenty of chances to make strong hands. For example, some strong starting hands are:

Kh, Qd, Jd, 10h - This is a fantastic starting hand. Not only does it give you draws to two Royal flushes, it also gives you draws to three other straight flushes, two flushes and sixteen other straight draws. And that's not to mention a range of powerful high cards for pairing up, trips and full houses.

Ad, Ac, Kd, Kc - Another very strong starting hand with top flush draws and excellent full house possibilities.

10d, 9d, 8c, 7h - Again, plenty of straight options with a possible straight flush.

Ah, Qd, Qc, 8h - Top flush, top straight as well as full house chances.

Some examples of poor starting hands are:

Qc, 7c, 6c, 2c - Four suited cards giving few outs other than the flush.

5h, 5c, 5d, Qd - Any hand containing trips is unlikely to improve. Even the flush draw from this hand is only third best, so get rid.

2c, 2d, 3s, 3h - Looks good at first glance, but you're only looking at making trips or a second rate full house at best. Play with caution.

The Flop

Did we say that Omaha is a game of the nuts? We did? Good, now make sure that you always keep that in mind, especially once you've seen the flop. Once the flop comes out, you should have a strong idea on where your hand is going.

The flop is also the time when you'll see a lot of betting (slow playing in Omaha isn't a wise idea), so make sure you realise the full value of your hand. In other words, if you don't have the nuts, don't bet. If you do, then get your money in the middle.

The turn

If you get to the turn and you're still holding the nuts, then this is where you need to get as much money into the pot as possible to discourage any drawing hands from going any further. if they do, they could hit the nuts on the river (and you don't want that do you?). If, on the other hand, an opponent makes a large raise and the best you have is trips or a straight when there's a flush available, then get out before it costs you any more money. The chances of you hitting the full house are slim, and you can almost guarantee that someone's made the flush already.

The River

If you've come all this way and haven't made the nuts, then good luck; you better hope that your opponents are bluffing. But remember, chances are that they're not bluffing and calling bets on the river when you don't have the nuts will, in the long term, do you no favours.

Of course, Omaha, like Texas Hold'em, is also a game of people and position, so the potential outcomes of a hand aren't the only consideration you need to make. Are you betting early, do your opponents play in a loose manner? All these things need to be considered when deciding which hands to play and which hands to fold.

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