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Omaha: All About Playing the Turn
Omaha is a turn and river game, meaning the leading hand on the flop is rarely the same as on the river.
Playing the turn properly is the key to dominating Pot-Limit Omaha. Assuming the majority of the players on your table are following the standard hand selection rules, almost every flop will give multiple players strong draws.
It's not uncommon to see a set up against a flush draw and a wrap straight draw on the flop. This dynamic means it's rare for you to win a pot on the flop in Pot-Limit Omaha.
Texture of the Board
The turn has the power to make or break a player's drawing hand. The ability to put a player on a hand and understand the texture of the board - most importantly, how the board changes from the flop to the turn - is crucial to your success at the table.
Reading the texture of the board is a learned skill that takes practice and work. You have to be able to read all possible draws and made hands, along with the outs of each improving.
You then have to evaluate that to the state of your own hand. If they hit will you be behind? What do you need to get ahead? What outs do you have? What anti-outs? Do you have any blockers to their draws? Any redraws if they hit?
If you're unsure of how to figure out all of the above, check out this article.
Where You're At (And Where They Think You're At)
Once you know the texture of the board, with all the various odds and outs, you'll be able to formulate a decent idea of where your hand sits among your opponents'.
Knowing where you stand is only part of the battle; you still have to decide where your opponents are at, and perhaps most importantly, where they think you're at.
If you're on a flush draw with a 13-out straight draw, and have been betting it heavy, what picture of your hand will your opponents paint?
It's less likely they'll put you on the hand you have (although they will not discount it completely), and more likely that they'll think you're on a strong made hand, a large set or top two.
If you've been acting very strong, they might give you credit for a set, with the flush draw.
If you check-call the flop with a big wrap and miss on the turn, and then choose to check-call the turn as well, you're giving your opponent the impression that you're playing a draw.
Flush draws are far more obvious to everyone than straight draws, and they also instill more fear in people. This allows you to win the pot by hitting your wrap.
Alternatively, your turn play has set up the option of bluffing a river if a third suited card falls.
Let's look at this flop, for instance:
Here, a player can't put you on a specific draw. It's next to impossible to say you're for sure on the straight draw and not the heart flush draw.
If the player holds four hearts themselves, it's much easier to make that call, but in most scenarios it's just not possible to be sure about it.
As long as your opponent doesn't actually have the draw you're representing, you have your legit outs, along with the nine flush bluff outs. If you're aware of this on the flop, you can use your action on the turn to set up the bluff on the river.
Where Your Opponent Is At
You need to use the texture of the board, the betting story and any tells you can pick up to narrow down your opponent's range as tightly as possible.
A situation to avoid:
You're sitting with every draw there is. Both flush draws, and a big wrap. You have so many outs that you don't have to bother counting them; all you need to know is you have a lot.
Your opponent is a player who almost exclusively plays pocket aces (a hand where two of the cards are aces). They check-raised the flop, and now bet out half the pot on the turn. What do you do?
In this situation there is a very large chance that you are drawing almost dead with only one out to beat a full house. If you dupe yourself into believing that all your draws are live and make a call, you're entering into a world of hurt.
Chances are you're going to hit one of your draws on the river. If you call the turn on a draw, it's ridiculous to think that you'll fold after hitting that draw you just paid for. Now you're calling a bet on the turn, and on the river, with a crushed hand.
Especially in Omaha, if you think you're beat, you probably are. Omaha is truly a nut game - if you don't have the absolute nuts, you want to think twice before pumping the pot.
The turn is the card in PLO which can make or break your flopped draw, or even open up a whole new set of outs going into the river.
Focusing on properly value betting, releasing hands and setting up river moves on the turn will dramatically improve your overall PLO profits.
More Omaha strategy articles from Sean Lind:
- Omaha: Outs, Anti-Outs, True Outs and Blockers
- Pot-Limit Omaha Beginners Guide Part 1
- Omaha: Common Beginner Mistakes
- Omaha Odds and Outs: A Quick and Dirty Guide
View Best Rooms to Play: Omaha Poker