Becoming an Omaholic
Twenty years ago almost all poker players would start their education playing stud. Perhaps round a kitchen table with friends or family, perhaps in a 1-5 game in their local casino or card room. Today most people see the superstars playing on the TV and jump straight into the first Holdem game they can find.
But there is another way. Avoid the dark side and you too can become an omaholic.
There are some terrific reasons to start playing omaha high-low:
- Most of the players at the smaller games are clueless, some appear to actually enjoy losing. With so many people making mistakes it is easier for a beginner to win here than in other games
- In Omaha8, big hands are shown down time and time again. Playing at the omaha high/low tables will quickly teach you how to value your cards in relation to the best possible or nut hand. You will develop a sense of when to be afraid of “the monster hiding under the bed”
- As a beginner you are bound to make a lot of mistakes. One mistake it is very common for beginners to make is to adopt a style of play known as weak-tight. In Holdem this is punished very severely. In low level omaha high-low games weak-tight play is often rewarded.
Beginning at Holdem v Starting at Omaha
Holdem is a great game, but to be successful at it you must understand where you stand during each round of betting. This is very difficult. Top players have a sense of feel and judgement that most of us can only dream about.
Fundamentally, all poker is about making decisions when you only have a limited amount of information available to you. Good players collect as much information as they can, so that they know:
- when to keep a pot small and when to jam it
- when to try and play against a single opponent and when to keep everybody in
- when to see the next card cheaply and when to make other people’s drawing hands expensive
- when they can use their position to take down a hand with nothing
This enables them to make correct decisions on every betting street.
Beginners to poker often are content to just make decisions based on their hole cards. (Sometimes they cross their fingers as well). They don’t where they are during a hand. Sometimes they don’t even understand that not knowing where they are during a hand is a very bad thing.
A really important factor in playing well in Omaha high-low is only to play good starting hands. Starting Hands are much more important in Omaha than Holdem.
If a beginner is likely to put a lot of reliance on his starting hands surely it makes sense for them to play in a game in which selecting good starting hands is very important.
Omaha High-Low’s Golden Rule
In Omaha high-low it is much easier to know where you are once the flop arrives because monster hands are commonplace. If you don’t have a big hand or a big draw somebody else probably does.
You don’t need to know which of your opponents has it. Just that fact that someone probably does and that that person won’t lay it down under any circumstances should be enough to start the alarm bells ringing. Using this reasoning we can develop a guideline that enables beginners to eliminate a major source of uncertainty (ie lack of information) from their game.
- After the flop, it is probably only correct to continue in a pot when you have the nuts or a good draw to the nuts
Next, we go on to consider what constitutes a good starting hand in Omaha High-Low and see how the Hutchinson Point Count System enables us to discard the junky four card combinations that have little chance of winning.