Presenting The Basic Concepts of Omaha High / Low

The objective in Omaha-High Low is to scoop the entire pot, by either winning without showdown, showing down the best high hand when no low is possible or showing down the best low and high hand to win both sides of the pot when it is.

Obviously, winning the whole pot is better than winning half the pot, but it is more advantageous than most people think. Let’s look at a typical Limit Omaha/8 pot where you and two other players limp in, the blinds don’t raise, then there are a few bets and calls to the river.

Players               Pre-Flop               Flop                  Turn              River
You                     Call – 0.5 Bet       Bet – 0.5 Bet    Bet – 1 Bet     Bet – 1 Bet
Player 1              Call – 0.5 Bet       Call – 0.5 Bet   Call – 1 Bet    Call – 1 Bet
Player 2             Call – 0.5 Bet       Call – 0.5 Bet   Fold
Small Blind       Fold – 0.25 Bet
Big Blind           Check – 0.5 Bet   Fold

Total                   2.25 Bets              1.5 Bets             2 Bets            2 Bets

If You Scoop:
Profit = Whole Pot (2.25 + 1.5 + 2 + 2) –
Bets Put In (0.5 + 0.5 + 1 + 1) = 7.75 – 3 = 4.75 Bets

If You Split:
Profit = Half the Pot (0.5)(2.25 + 1.5 + 2 + 2) –
Bets Put In (0.5 + 0.5 + 1 + 1) = 3.875 – 3 = 0.875 Bets

As you can see, scooping is a whole lot better than splitting the pot. In this scenario it is nearly five and a half times better than splitting the pot.

Basic Concepts of Omaha – Don’t Leave Home Without An Ace

Very few starting hands are playable in Omaha High-Low that do not contain an ace. If you never played a hand that didn’t have an ace in it, you probably wouldn’t be doing that badly. So what is so special about an ace in Omaha/8?

Well for starters, they are the lowest card in the deck and are a key component of starting with the best low draw hands. They are also the highest card in the deck, meaning that they have the potential to give you the highest pair, two pair, trips, straights, flushes and full houses. By starting a hand without an ace, you are fighting an uphill battle to win the pot, so most of the time it is correct not to voluntarily enter a pot without one.

Drawing Dead With The Nuts

A lot of players new to Omaha High/Low struggle to deal with the concept that although they have a very strong hand on the flop or turn, they can just about be drawing dead.

If you have top set with no low cards on a board with two or three low cards, your hand will rarely, if ever, stand up to win the whole pot let alone half. How come?

Let’s say you have AATT and the board is A56T. You have no low draw, but you have top set for the current nut high hand. If we say you are up against 5 players at this point and that they hold the remaining ace, ten, fives and sixes, there is no card that can come on the turn that will mean that you have the nuts. Any 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, Q, J, K makes a straight possible.

This situation demonstrates a key concept that you have to be able to lay down sets on low boards. An inexperienced player would cap their set of aces on the turn and they’d be doing it without any possibility of winning.

Draws To The Nuts  

Omaha/8 is very different to Texas Hold ‘Em, you are generally going to need to nuts to win when a lot of people see a flop. Drawing to non-nut hands such as 2nd and 3rd best lows, non-ace high flush draws and the bad end of straights is a sure fire way to bleed money. This means most of the time you must flop the best low draw, the nut flush draw, a decent set, a good quality straight draw or a made hand to continue past the flop. Having said that, Omaha High/Low is a very situational game, if only a couple of people see a flop then this rule can be relaxed a little.

Fold A Lot More Hands in Pot Limit Than In Limit  

In PLO8 you are likely to face larger bets in comparison to the size of the pot, needless to say this will give you lesser pot odds. Not only that, these bets are likely to increase exponentially on the turn at river as the pot swells. Therefore, you need to make the adjustment when playing different betting structures. Limping in pre-flop and check/folding when it doesn’t give you a good two way hand may seem mundane and weak play, but it is often correct in full ring PLO8 games.

Game of Straights & Flushes  

Most of the time it will take straights, flushes and full houses to take down an Omaha High/Low pot. Sets, particularly middle and bottom sets are not hands to get attached to and should be routinely folded. Top set should be folded in a lot of situations and should generally be played with a cautious approach. This advice assumes that you have no low draws or high redraws to go with your hand. Two pair and trips are not strong hands, and you should easily be able to get away from these without anything to go with them.

Limping Is Not A Sin In Pot-Lmit Omaha 8

Limping in, particularly in early position is not a bad tactic in PLO8. If you have something like A-A-2-4 in early position, a raise will give away the strength of your hand and discourage action. You actually want to encourage others who hold A-2 and A-3 to join you. Most players can’t let go of their low hands with no real strength for the high hand, presenting you an excellent opportunity to either scoop or three quarter them.

Not All A-A Combinations Are Created Equal

A-A is nowhere near as strong a hand as it is in Texas Hold ‘Em, a fact that irks many players when they first transition into Omaha/8. One of the major determining factors in how well you do with your A-A-x-x hands is what comprises the x-x. A-A-7-T unsuited is a pretty horrid hand when compared with A-A-2-3 double suited. If at least one of your aces are suited this is a big step towards having a good A-A combination, but some prime low cards or connecting high cards are also handy.

Pot Odds

Omaha High/Low is the most mathematical of any poker games. There is a lot of information available to you and since you will be drawing to the nuts in most cases you will know exactly what cards you need and hence your percentage chance to win the hand.

Thus, knowing what price the pot is offering you is key to making correct and positive expected value decisions.

What are pot odds? In brief, pot odds refer to the ratio between the size bet you are facing to the size of the pot. For instance, if you must call a $5 bet for a shot at winning a $20 pot (you don’t include your call), your pot odds are 1-to-4 or 20%.

If we assume you work your odds of winning the hand out to be 20% and the pot is played ten times, you call $5 each of those times, lose eight times and win twice, you end up breaking even. This means that you should only call in this spot if you estimate your chance of winning to be greater than 20%. If you win the hand more than 20% of the time, you have what is known as positive expected value.

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