Switching from Hold’em to Omaha

Switching from Texas Hold’em to Omaha

Omaha and Texas Hold’em have there similarities and differences. Many Hold’em players have a difficult time adjusting to Omaha because they fail to understand just how different the games really are. A common mistake that some new Hold’em players who make the switch to Omaha make, is to assume that both poker variations are the same, when really they play very different.

In an interview recently hosted with high stakes Omaha poker player “Ziigmund”, he was talking about how he considers Omaha to be his game and that he is not really a Texas Hold’em player, even though he plays NL sometimes. He went onto explain that he doesn’t need to think what to do in Omaha, and always finds himself having to make tough decisions in Hold’em. Let me remind you that this is a high stakes player who has made millions playing Omaha, so if they games feel different for him, you can bet there are huge differences in strategy required to beat both games.

Omaha vs Hold’em

The main similarities between Omaha and Texas Hold’em is that you make the best five card hand from all of the cards which are available. In Texas Holdem you are dealt two cards and it is possible to use any five cards, while in Omaha you are dealt four cards and you are required to use two of the cards to make a hand, so in reality even though you are dealt 4 cards in Omaha, you have six possible two card combinations.

A lot of new Omaha players think this enables them to play a wider range of starting hands, but in actual fact the opposite is true because your opponents also have a lot more card combinations to draw to the nuts or make a better hand. The additional two cards you are dealt in a game of Omaha and the requirement that you must use three of the community, creates an entire new set of strategies which is only relevant to Omaha.

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Starting Hands

When it comes to starting hand selection you should be more selective when deciding what hands to play in Omaha. A good rule of thumb is that you should only play coordinated starting hands. For example, four cards which make a straight or a double suited hand. Generally, if one card does not work with the rest of them, the hand is not really worth playing because it doesn’t have much potential post flop to make a big hand.

Drawing to the nuts

Omaha is a game of draws, which is why it’s often played at pot limit. With the additional card combinations in Omaha, even though you may have the best hand on the flop, it’s likely one of your opponents is drawing to a better hand. Because Omaha is a game of draws, you will find that you have to invest a lot of money into pots without already having a made hand. In Texas Hold’em, if you have 9 outs to the flush its considered a good draw, while in Omaha you want 16 outs or more if you decide to stay in after the flop. Keep in mind, even though Omaha is a drawing game you want to be drawing to the nuts. Although you can draw to the best hand in Texas Hold’em, if you were always drawing on the turn to make the best hand, it would be a disaster.

One of the common mistakes Texas Hold’em players will make when adjusting to Omaha is they will overplay big pair hands, such as AA or KK. Hands like pocket aces and pocket kings are not worth as much. Even with big pair hands you want to try and improve on later streets.

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The switch from Hold’em to Omaha will take some time and practice. Like has been suggested in this article, although they share a few similarities, they have their differences and require a different skill set. The best Texas Hold’em players in the world are not Omaha players, so that should tell you a lot. Be really selective with what starting hands you decide to play in the beginning. The same can be said with both games. Once you familiarize yourself with Omaha you can start playing more hands because you will have more post flop experience and won’t make as many beginner mistakes. Always remember that Omaha is a game of draws and a lot of the time you will need the nuts for the winning hand.

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