Pot Limit Omaha is a game involving match-ups between strong hands. The fact that each player has 4 ‘hole cards’ – instead of the 2 familiar to Holdem – players means that most pots are won by high flushes, nut straights or even full-house hands.
The strength of the hands shown-down in Pot Limit Omaha affect the overall strategy players on every betting round. Before the flop it is essential to get involved with the right kind of hand in the right position, and to ensure that the situation is right for the type of hand you hold.
In Omaha poker you must use 2 and only 2 cards from your hand – together with 3 cards from the ‘community’ board to make a poker hand. This in turn means that the best starting hands are those which contain the maximum number of 2-card ‘combinations’ which can hit the flop. Coordinated starting hands where all 4-cards work well together, in terms of being close in rank or double suited, are far stronger than pairs or unconnected high-cards.
A common error in Pot-Limit Omaha is to raise only with the very strongest hands before the flop. The extreme example is the player who waits for A-A-x-x before putting in a raise. The problem with this is that observant opponents will ‘known’ that this player has aces and will call with a very wide range of hands. A seemingly ‘safe’ low-card flop can then lead to the ‘aces-only-raiser’ losing their entire stack should this have hit someone else’s hand.
Some hands play better against a small number of opponents while others are better suited to multi-way action. For example a high pair with no back-up is unlikely to be the best hand after the flop in a multi-way pot. However a small rundown hand such as 5-6-7-8 double suited can win a big pot against opponents playing high pairs when it hits a concealed straight or small flush.
Finally, position at the table is a critical factor in Omaha Poker. The pot-limit betting means that there will usually be several rounds in which to take advantage of acting last. If you are in early position then you will need to act after the flop before you know what your opponents will do – a severe disadvantage.
To summarize, good pre-flop play in Pot-Limit Omaha Poker involves selecting the right starting hands with combinations of cards which work together. Balancing your raises to disguise the strength of your hand is a must at all but the lowest levels, and being aware of how position influences the strength of hand you can play will bring in a bigger profit at the tables.