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Poker Strategy | Omaha Poker Strategy

Omaha 8 or Better – Evaluating Starting Hands

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What starting hands you choose to play in Omaha High Low (also known as Omaha 8 or better) is the most important thing you can learn as a new Omaha 8 player. As a beginner, you should focus on playing extremely tight poker and only play premium starting hands. By doing this, you can avoid finding yourself in troublesome situations and will be able to win money because of the hands you play, not the skill edge you have over your opponents.

There are a number of different types of starting hands you can be dealt in Omaha High Low. Let's take a look at each of them in a bit more detail.

A pair of aces with wheel cards (cards 5 or under) – this is a premium hand and you should try and build as big a pot as possible. If your ace is suited, it's even more powerful. This hand is powerful because it has scoop potential with the big pair and low draw.

An ace with two-three wheel cards – this is also a premium hand but is not quite as powerful as the above hand because it does not start out with a made high hand. The reason this hand is so good is because it provides something called counterfeit protection on a low hand. Often times, you can be holding the nut low with a hand like A-2 on a board like 4-5-6 and if a 2 comes, your low has been counterfeited and might no longer be best. A hand like A-2-3-x would protect you from this happening. The hand also has strong wheel potential if all low cards come because of the connectedness of the cards.

An ace with a deuce – As a beginner, this is not a hand that you should be playing routinely because you will find yourself often getting counterfeited and/or quartered. If you don't have anything to back up the A-2 like another low card, a suited ace, or a pair, then it's best to fold the hand and avoid these problems.

Four cards less than six without an ace – these hands aren't in the same category of the above hands but have more value than an A-2 type of hand because of the potential they have for straights in addition to lows. While these hands should be avoided in early position or raised pots, in unraised pots and with position, it is okay to go ahead and play these hands.

Hands where you have two pair – this is a hand like 2-2-4-4, or J-J-3-3. While these hands are tempting to play because you have not one, but two, opportunities to flop a set, in low limit cash games where there are multi-way pots, these hands cause more trouble than they are worth.

Four cards less than 8 – this is a hand like 3-5-6-7 or 4-5-6-8. Unlike a hand like 2-3-4-5 or 2-3-4-6, these hands are problematic because they will seldom give you a nut hand, and as a beginner you will not be able to recognize the situations where you should be playing these hands profitably. For now, avoid them until you learn the intricacies of Omaha 8 a little bit better.

High Only Hands – these are hands like K-K-Q-Q, K-Q-J-10. The value in these hands is that very few people in Omaha 8 games play high hands because they know that in most situations they are only playing for half the pot. However, think about it this way... how many times have you played a hand of Omaha High Low and there was no low? What wins the pot in those situations? A high hand does. That being said, however, it is best to try and play these hands only if you can see the flop cheaply and you have position.

All Other Hands – just throw them away. Don't even think about it.

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