Aggression in Omaha Poker

Although Texas hold 'em poker is still the game of choice here in the U.S., Omaha poker continues to flourish internationally, creating more competitive and challenging games both online poker games and live.

Omaha is a game in which rags turn to riches and riches turn to rags as each community card appears. Draws dominate the action in Omaha, and because of this, understanding what you are holding is of the utmost importance. Unless you have the stone cold nuts, you rarely want to see any type of connected card hit the board for fear that you have just been outdrawn.

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Although starting hand selection is extremely important in Omaha, it's knowing when to get out that separates the winners from the losers. Knowing when you should raise or reraise is also very critical to success. These basic ideas should be the first step in any poker player's education of Omaha.

Aggression is also the name of the game. Being aggressive in Omaha will allow you to reduce opponents with drawing hands, but you should temper this aggression on different streets.

Playing preflop in Omaha falls under the same strategy family as hold 'em. You're going to want to raise with your strong hands, see a cheap flop with your speculative ones and fold the rags. No matter what the game, being aggressive preflop is a strong strategy, because your opponents do not want to put in additional chips to see the flop. Remember, they are thinking along the same lines as you are: Get in cheap with speculative hands. If you can erase some of the players from the mix, the probability that your strong hand holds up will increase.

As much as I'm advocating aggression, be aware that you should not reach the point where they will not respect your preflop raises. Keep being a preflop bully, but use your brain and stop making raises that you know will only result in multiple calls. If your image has been watered down, especially in Omaha, this will convince your opponents to take a shot to get even more of your chips.

Where Omaha differentiates itself from any other game is in postflop betting. Once the first three community cards are out, your brain will need to work overtime to determine the best hands in this situation. With an extensive number of draws almost always available, every player must ask themselves if putting more chips into this pot is a beneficial decision. Obviously, given the title of this tip, if you have a good hand postflop, I'm advocating a bet.

In Omaha, your opponents are much more likely to have a good hand than in hold 'em, but unless they have the nuts, they are also worried about the possibilities of your hand. Being aggressive will continue to reinforce their concerns as they wonder if their hands are good enough to continue on. Rarely should you call a flop bet if you have a hand of this type. If you think you have the second-best hand postflop and your opponent bets, raise. Test the waters and see what your opponent does. If draws are possible, he will not want you to make your hand either, and will further define his hand. You'll be able to get more information in Omaha through postflop betting than in hold 'em, where players are more protective of their big hands.

Think of it this way: Say you flop a set in hold 'em — could you get away from this hand easily? No. Of course there will be situations (like a set of 2s on a 2-10-J-Q-K board with a preflop raise), but most of the time, if you flop a set, you probably think your hand is good and will be married to it all the way. In Omaha, if you flop a set, your hand might be in trouble already! If you flop a set of nines with a board of 9-10-Q, I wouldn't feel too confident.

Protect your big hands in Omaha by being aggressive, and when given the opportunity, be the aggressor. Bet when your opponents check and give you control of the action because rarely will a card be a complete blank in Omaha. The more cards that come out, the more you need to look for any and every combination of cards that can beat your hand. If your opponent calls your big bets, hope that the next card makes your hand even stronger.

If your opponents are drawing, it is your responsibility to make them pay. If they incorrectly pay to see the turn or river and hit, so be it. Other times you'll be happy they played against the math, because you'll be raking in an even bigger pot.

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