Pot-Limit Omaha: Flopping Two Pair Part 2

"Miami" John Cernuto

Now that we've explained some of the numbers and probabilities to do with two pair in part one of this article, part two will explain how to begin evaluating the true strength of your two pair.

If you ran the test from the previous article and dealt out nine Omaha hands with a flop, you'll have a firm understanding of how often multiple hands hit the flop in a nine-handed Omaha game.

In the previous article we explored in detail a particular Omaha dynamic: even if you go to the flop heads-up, and flop top two pair, it's still possible to be behind another hand - even that of a player holding only a draw.

To evaluate the strength of your hand, you need to take into consideration the number of outs your opponent may hold.

Edges in Omaha are Razor Thin

Equity is finite, meaning there are only 100 possible percentage points you can own. When multiple forces are competing for shares out of the same finite pool, the acquisition of a single unit is worth two units relative to your opposition.

In simpler terms, if you and your opponent are even, you each have 50% equity.

If you gain one point of equity (bringing you up to 51%), you had to gain that point by forcing your opponent to lose it; your opponent now holds 49%. And 51%-49% = 2%. Your one percentage point gain has given you a two percentage point lead.

This concept is important in poker, especially in Omaha, where the edges in equity are razor-thin at best. Omaha is a very equity-liberal game, as opposed to Hold'em, in which one player will commonly hold a vast majority share.

What Are Your Blockers?

One of the strongest ways to acquire hidden equity is through blocker cards. The more blockers you have, the more equity you'll have in the pot. More importantly, the more blockers you have, the less equity your opponent will have.

Still more crucially, the more equity you hold from blocker cards, the more equity your opponent will falsely believe they hold.

A blocker is simply one of your opponent's outs. Here are two versions of an Omaha hand, one with blockers, one without. Take a look at how the equity changes between the two hands:

David Benyamine
David Benyamine crushes high-stakes online Omaha.


Hand 1:        

Hand 2:        

In this scenario, hand 1 holds top two pair with no draws. Hand 2 holds a 13-out straight draw and a flush draw.

This setup illustrates a situation in which hand 1 has almost no blockers. Unfortunately, Omaha hands are typically very intertwined, and hand 1 holds one blocker (K).

If hand 2 was to make his flush with the K, he would lose to a full house. This effectively lowers his outs to 18. Even though he's still drawing, his massive amount of outs brings his equity to a total of 63.07%. Even though hand 1 has flopped two pair, it holds no more than 36.93% equity in the pot.

Take the same example above, but substitute hand 1 for this hand:


With hand 1 now holding blockers to the straight and flush, it has gained almost five points of equity, bringing it up to 41.71%. That makes the hand worth a 10% equity shift to the player holding it.

Phil Galfond
Phil Galfond won his first WSOP title in 2008 playing Omaha Hi.

Even though it may seem small - 36% or 41% is still behind - just imagine if your bank decided to raise the interest on your mortgage by 5%. This shift in equity will translate into thousands of BBs over a long-term sample of cards.

The Redraw in PLO

Even more powerful than a blocker is the redraw. If you change the queen of diamonds in hand 1 to the Q (giving hand 1 the higher flush draw), you've now given yourself a strong redraw.

Since hand one does not have to improve to win this pot - it only has to stop hand 2 from improving - it's irrelevant whether hand 1 hits the flush or not. This means a redraw is not so much a draw as a super blocker.

Holding the Q in conjunction with the seven of hearts doesn't just give you one more blocker against your opponent; it effectively blocks all possible flush cards, meaning this Q is actually as strong as holding seven blockers in your hand.

When looking at your two pair, there is a very decent chance you're behind in equity, unless you're holding redraws and blockers. Omaha is a turn and river game: your goal is to play your hand for the future streets, not for the flop.

You need to be playing for draws, redraws and redraws on your draws. In fact, single points of equity are so valuable in Omaha that serious players will even consider blockers to rare hands such as straight flushes. For example, a player may say, "I had the nut flush redraw with a blocker to the straight flush."

If you want to be successful in Omaha, you need to play a strong drawing game. Play hands that will allow you to be ahead on the river, regardless of where they stand on the flop. Simply put, a naked two pair will rarely work out well for you in the end.

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Slice Support 2010-07-09 21:40:05

A lot of players transitioning from Holdem will not have a very good feeling for their equity in Omaha. It can really help to play around with an equity calculator to develop a fell for relative hand values in Omaha. I wrote a desktop Omaha Equity Calculator that you can check out at http://sliceeq.com


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