Many Texas Hold’em players take up Omaha poker when they are ready to learn a new poker game. Since both are flop based games, they figure that the same concepts they have learned in Hold’em will carry them through Omaha. However, a Hold’em mentality will guarantee disaster. In this article we will discuss transitioning from Texas Hold’em to Omaha poker.
When players first transition from Texas Hold’em to Omaha Poker, they tend to fall into the trap of overvaluing certain hands, especially hands with aces. For example, pocket aces is about 77% to win against a hand like 8-7 suited.
However, a hand like As-Ad-Kh-Ks is only about 59% to win against a hand like 7s-8s-9s-10s. Even the biggest hands in Omaha do not have a huge advantage over other hands and players with a Hold’em mentality tend to over play these types of hands.
Players also tend to chase after too many non-nut draws in Omaha poker. The odds of a flush over flush situation in Texas Hold’em are very low in comparison to Omaha. However, with the myriad of potential starting hands in Omaha, the odds of two players having a flush is very high. As such, it is unprofitable to chase after non-nut draws in.
Texas Hold’em rewards players who speculate with hands and push their edges with huge pre-flop hands. Players in Omaha that try and apply the same concept will quickly find themselves on the rail having blown through their stack or bankroll.
As mentioned earlier, there are no pre-flop starting hands with a massive advantage over another in Omaha poker. As such, many players will tend to see the flop on a regular basis. Once you reach the flop, you need to evaluate your hand deeper than you normally would in Texas Hold’em.
The two things that you need to do at each street of a hand is to evaluate your hand strength and what potential hands could come to beat you. First, you need to evaluate what types of draws or even redraws that you have. For those new to the game, a redraw is a secondary draw that you have in addition to a flopped hand. For example, if you flop the nut straight but also have a flush draw, you have a redraw to a flush.
Next, you will need to evaluate what potential hands could be out there that are better than yours. For example, you start with 10s-9s-8c-7d and the flop falls 6c-7c-2d. Right now you are sitting with a wrap draw and a pair of sevens.
A wrap draw in Omaha is when you flop a straight draw where more than eight cards can come to make your hand. In this case, any ten, nine, eight, or five will make your straight. You have 13 outs for your straight. However, what redraws do you have?
In this case, you have none. However, your opponent could very likely be on the same straight draw as you, be drawing to a flush, have flopped two pair, or even a set.
The same evaluation needs to take place on the turn. Backdoor draws, or draws that need two cards to hit the board in order to be completed, will go out the window and players will either have a hand or they will have a draw. If you hit your hand, you need to determine if it is the nuts. If it is not, do you have a nut redraw or any redraw at all.
In Texas Hold’em, if you were to flop a hand like two pair or a pair with flush draw, it would be a hand that you would bet into and even shove with without much thought in most situations. However, with Omaha poker and the multiple hand possibilities, newer players must evaluate each hand deeper or find themselves in a huge hole.
Game of Small Edges
Players transitioning to Omaha from Texas Hold’em should be aware that the game does not have the same edges as they are used to. Hands like aces are going to be a huge favorite against all hands and many Hold’em players can easily play the game when they have a huge advantage.
The best players in Hold’em are those that play well when they don’t have huge edges but small edges. In Omaha, the edges are always small and in many cases, you are about 60/40.
Even hands with huge amounts of outs are not as dominating as they seem. For example, if you have a huge wrap draw that has 20 outs to make you a winning hand, Hold’em players would assume you are about 80% to win. However, that just isn’t the case with Omaha. Any player holding a pair higher than your wrap draw will drop your odds to 73%. If any player had a set, then you drop to about 54%. You go from being a “huge favorite” to being in a virtual coin flip.
Since you only have small edges, you will see huge swings in your bankroll based on luck. Long term you will still come out ahead, but the swings can be brutal. The best players are those who still push their small edges when it is correct to do so.
Using a Texas Hold’em mentality to approach Omaha poker is a recipe for failure. The games look similar, but are in reality entirely different in game play, odds, and even strategy. While certain poker concepts are universal such as being able to identify player tendencies, most Hold’em will just cause you to lose money.
Regardless of what many will have you believe, Omaha is not Texas Hold’em with four cards. It is its own game and should be learned as such. Good luck at the tables.
By: James Guill