Posts Tagged ‘online casino’

Making the Move from Holdem to Omaha

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Moving from Hold’em Poker to Omaha Poker can be intimidating for the online poker player, but this is not that difficult.

Whatever the setting, online casino, online poker room or the brick and mortar versions, gambling operators always offer new games, and sometimes some of these games take off on their own. This has been going on for hundreds of years, and most recently blackjack and Texas Hold’em poker became instant successes.

Now some think that Omaha poker may become the new success story, and it is thus a good idea to learn the rules of this game. This article is written with a move from NLHE to PLO in mind, but it it also relevant for the most part for other variants of the two games.

The first thing to keep in mind is that Omaha is an extension of Hold’em, so this move is perfectly natural. Indeed Omaha is short for Omaha hold’em, but the short version Omaha is what is commonly used.

When you make this move, it is highly recommended to start Omaha at the micro-limits. This is ideal for learning the nuances without paying for the lesson. In fact the online players are so bad at PLO micro-limits, that if you are a reasonable player at Texas Holdem, it will cost you nothing to get acquainted to Omaha, and you can then progressively climb up the stake levels.

The main difference between the two games is that now you have 4 hole cards instead of 2. The other difference, and that is not a small one either, is that you must use two of your hole cards plus three of the board cards in order to determine what your strongest hand is. This part can be confusing at first to holdem players who are used to take two, one or zero of their hole cards to make their hand.

For the rest, Omaha is essentially the same as Holdem.

Let us start with the first difference: you have 4 cards. One way to think about that is that there are six ways to pick two cards from a group of four cards. So in essence it is like if you were dealt six times your holdem poker hole cards. But because this set of six pairs of hole cards will share the same board, you want your hole cards to work together so to speak, so that you get the maximum power from your hole cards.

This is why draws are so important in Omaha. Let us say for example that you have QJT9 rainbow as your four hole cards. This straight hand gives a high chance to hit a straight draw at the flop, because most boards with two or three cards higher than 7 or 8 will give a straight draw, like KT3 for example.

Henceforth, some of the strongest hands are either straight hands like above or “double suited” hands, with two cards in one suit, the two other ones in another suit. These hands give you the most chance to hit either a straight or a flush draw. The top hole cards in this category are straight double suited hole cards. In this vein, QJT9 double suited is believed to be one of the strongest hole cards, if not the strongest.

The other category of big hands are two top pairs like AAKK, double suited even better. Mixed hands like KKJT double suited, holding both the power of a big pair and many draws are similarly extremely strong hole cards.

So the thing to keep in mind is that you want your 4 hole cards to work nicely together. If you have 3 cards of the same suit, it is a negative feature as you can only use 2 of the suited cards for your flush draw, so one of your hole cards is not used at 100%. Toss that hand.

The other confusing aspect that needs some training to eradicate is that you must use 2 of your hole cards. So if the board is 8855K without flush possibility and you hold A842 rainbow, you have a set of eights ace high and not a boat. Or if the board is KT854 with four hearts and you have the ace of heart and no other heart, then you do not have a flush. As you need to replace one heart from the board with a non heart from your hole cards.

Spend some time practicing to get used to these nuances. You will not regret trying PLO because this is a very exciting game, where there are more often big hands and where the fish are so abundant.