In Omaha, pre-flop play matters slightly less than it does in Hold’em.
That said, though, pre-flop is still very, very important. And, just like in Hold’em, folding weak hands pre-flop makes your decisions on later streets much easier.
The easiest way to think about it is:
- The more weak hands you play, the more marginal hands you make
- The more marginal hands you make, the more difficult the decisions you’ll have
- The more difficult your decisions are, the more mistakes you’ll make
- The more mistakes you make the more money you’ll lose
It’s that simple. So, just like in Hold’em, you have to practice great discipline, avoid trouble hands and focus on great money earners in Omaha.
When you play good hands before the flop, your flop play and onward becomes much, much easier.
What's A Good Starting Hand in Omaha?
When you’re thinking of what makes a good starting hand in Omaha, you always have to be thinking:
“How can I make the nuts?”
Your hand selection should be based upon that. You want hands that can hit the flop hard. Hands like 8910J.
A big, double-suited rundown like 8910J is even preferred to aces in deep-stack Pot-Limit Omaha.
That’s because when it connects with the flop it connects HARD.
Picture 8910J on a flop of 789.
Here you flopped the nut straight with a gutshot straight-flush draw and top two pair.
Yes, this flop is rare. But it shows you how much different Omaha plays than Hold’em.
You want hands that can flop big in more ways than one. You want to hit something with something else.
Connectedness, Suitedness and Flopability
When deciding which hands to play in Omaha you should look at these factors:
- Suited and Double Suitedness
Connectedness is obvious; you want cards that have many different ways to flop the nuts. In Hold’em, suited connectors are good because they make big-pot hands like straights.
In Omaha, four cards in a row are extremely powerful because there are more ways to flop straights and straight draws.
Suited and Double Suitedness
Suitedness and double suitednessis similar. If you flop a straight or two pair, it never hurts to flop a flush draw to go along with it.
With double-suitedness (two cards each of the same suit) your flush draw can be either Plan A or Plan B. In short, you have options.
For example if you have AA38 on a 925 flop, your main hand is your pair of aces. But you also have two backdoor nut-flush draws that you can always fall back on.
If you have something like 89A10 and the flop comes 675, you flopped the nuts. But if you get it all-in with another person who flopped the nuts, you’re now freerolling with the nut-flush draw.
Flopabilitymeans you hit one part of your hand but you also have something else to go along with it. For example a hand like 8876 has good flopability.
Say the flop comes 853. You’ve hit top set, but because your hand has great flopability you also have an open-ender. In Omaha you want to be flopping something with something else to go along with it as much as possible.
The lead often changes on every single street so it’s always a good idea to have more than one thing going for you. Play hands that keep your options open and your opponent guessing.
A Quick Note on Position in Omaha
We’ll discuss this more later but in Omaha position is extremely important.
Being able to decide to take a free card or bluff when your opponent checks is even more important in Omaha than in Hold’em because of that ever-changing “lead” factor.
If you’re playing Omaha too much out of position you’re going to be left guessing too often and you’re going to bleed money.
When you’re learning Omaha it’s very important to play extremely tight when you’re out of position.
As you learn the game you can begin to play more hands out of position, but when you’re learning you will literally just be giving money away.
The Fundamentals of Good Pot Limit Omaha Strategy
The fundamentals of a good Pot Limit Omaha game start before the flop. It’s very easy to get caught up in the gamble-y nature of the game and to play too many hands, but that needs to be avoided.
Focus on playing tight – especially when you’re out of position. You want hands that can flop big with something to go with it.
If you can do that and stay out of the potential trap of gambling too much, you’ll be on the right path.
Watch our quick Omaha strategy video below for more on Playing Tight and in Position:
More in the How to Not Suck at Pot-Limit Omaha series:
- How to Not Suck at PLO: Play to the Nuts
- How to Not Suck at PLO: Play Tight, Play in Position
- How to Not Suck at PLO: Avoid Weak Rundowns
- How to Not Suck at PLO: Don't Overvalue Aces
- How to Not Suck at PLO: Bad Hands Make PLO Impossible
- How to Not Suck at PLO: Hit the Flop Hard
- How to Not Suck at PLO: Start and End with a Plan
- How to Not Suck at PLO: The Five Commandments