I have a secret. You want to know how to build a stack in a limit Omaha 8 tournament? Play like a maniac. Before you stop reading thinking I've lost my mind, let me explain. Early in a tournament, the blinds and pots are usually small. You can win 2 pots every orbit and barely increase the size of your stack in the first hour. If you play like a maniac, however, all of a sudden those pots become bigger. You're probably thinking “Sure they are bigger but if you lose all of your chips in the other 8 hands, the two pots you win won't make it worthwhile.”
And here is where my secret lies... the key is to be a pre-flop maniac. Raise it up as much as possible pre-flop but make smart, calculated plays post-flop. The advantages of this style are that when you do win a pot, it will be a substantial increase in your stack. Additionally, you are going to find yourself getting played back at a lot post-flop. Your opponents are typically not going to realize that you are only playing like an idiot pre-flop. You can start betting and raising with the nuts post-flop and they are going to raise and re-raise you.
Here is what you do. Raise no matter what your first four cards are the first hour of the tournament. It doesn't matter if you have 2-2-2-2. It doesn't matter if it's three bets to you already. Raise. What you are trying to do is get as much money in the pot pre-flop as you can for when you have an actual hand that merits going to show down. If you only raise the legitimate hands pre-flop, your raises will get respect. By raising every hand, you've eliminated any respect you'll ever have. You've turned into Rodney Dangerfield.
I'm going to go over the first hour of a tournament I played the other day at Full Tilt Poker to illustrate my point. This was a 3K guaranteed $24+2 tournament with 170 entrants and the top18 getting paid. I ended up taking 5th for $320 (it should have been more but I'm not going to turn this into a bad beat story) and was chip leader from early on in the tournament until the final table.
Hand #1 – We started with 3,000 in chips and the blinds at 15/30. I raise one limper with J-6-4-2. I end up reaching a showdown and winning the low and my hand is shown. Good... advertising!
Hand #2 – I raise 3 limpers with 8-7-5-2. Six of us see the flop and there is 360 in the pot already. Can you see how this works? If I had just limped in, the pot would have only had 180 in it. If I flop any kind of draw on the flop, I will be getting 12:1 on my money to call one bet. I flop an open ended straight draw on the flop and call a bet but fold on the turn when three clubs get put on the board and there is heavy action before it gets to me. Down to 2,895.
Hand #3 – I raise two limpers with 6-5-3-2 (ok, this is actually a decent Omaha 8 hand). It is re-raised and two people call the re-raise. I make it four bets and five of us see the flop. There is 690 in the pot... just scooping this amount will add nearly 20% to my stack. I flop two pair and a straight draw but end up folding on the river when the board pairs the card I didn't have a pair of. Down to 2,595.
Hand #4 – I raise with K-5-5-4. A player three bets it and gets two callers. I make it four bets and SIX of us see the flop. There is 780 in the pot. I would say that I have set the table up for what I want. No respect. Lots of pre-flop action. Lots of people involved. Perfect. I end up folding on the flop and am down to 2,475 but that's ok. My hand is coming.
Hand #5 – I raise with Q-Q-2-2 and four of us see the flop. The flop comes Q-10-6 with two clubs. I check but everyone else checks as well. The turn is an ace. I bet and get three callers. The river is a jack. Not a good card so I check as does everyone else. I scoop the pot and am up to 2,850.
Hand #6 – I raise with K-Q-J-5 and only get one caller. I fold post-flop on an all low board.
Hand #7 – I raise with K-8-5-2. A player re-raises me. I four bet it. By the time we see the flop there are five of us and 675 in the pot. I fold post-flop when I get none of it.
Hand #8 – I raise out of the big blind with Q-10-4-2. The three limpers all call. The flop comes A-J-4 with two spades. My Q-4 is in spades. It is checked around. The turn is the . I call a bet from one player. The river is a 5, giving me the nut low to go with my 2nd nut flush. I raise my opponent's bet and he calls. He has only the nut low and I win