Two weeks since my last column and they seem to have flown by. Done anything interesting?.. Just chilling?.. Ok.. me too (Well if we don`t count internet play !!). But, TV work`s starting to come in and I have a couple of assignments in the near future, more on those in a moment.
But now, as promised, the continuation of our short series on playing Pot Limit Omaha. In our first lesson last month I gave you a brief overview and a few basic principles. Today we will look at starting hands.
So what cards make a good Omaha starting hand? But, more importantly, why?
A good Omaha starting hand consists of four cards that all work together and coordinate well with each other, i.e..have six working card combinations, that's right six! Look at the example below.
A J 10 Q - See how each card has a working relationship with every other card in this hand? (I`ve left out the suits for simplicity). If you look you will be able to find six working two card combinations, the A works with the J,10 and Q, the J works with the 10 and the Q, and finally the 10 works with the Q.
Look what happens if we take away one of the "working" cards and substitute it with a "rag" (The term rag means, in poker parlance a useless, weak, card)
A J 6 Q - Now look how many working two card combinations we have. That's right, Three !!! So just losing one working card substantially reduces the potential of the hand. Notice I said potential, that's because all you have in any Omaha hand pre flop is "Potential". Even the strongest of starting hands such as Aces double suited will still need to get a good flop to continue (In most circumstances). So the point is one or two good cards plus a couple of rags don`t make a good starting hand... avoid them!
Below are some examples of good starting hands at Omaha:
A A K K, A A K Q, A K K Q, A K Q J, A K J 10, K Q J 10, Q Q J 10
As you can see from the examples above each hand contains four high cards , and this is the type of hand all novice Omaha players should look for, obviously as you become more experienced you can loosen up your starting hand requirements somewhat to include hands such as, 6 7 8 9 , 6 6 7 8, 7 8 9 9, and many other middle card combinations. But initially, just stick to the "Big" cards, you wont get into so much trouble!
So now we know what type of starting hands to look for, but you`re still a little unsure as to why? Read on, the next couple of examples should be all the convincing you need!
Let us now run out a couple of flops and using the four big cards theory lets examine what may occur.
10 J Q K
7 8 9
Novice opponents Hand:
6 A 10 J
Now look closely at the above example. Our novice opponent has taken a very average Omaha hand, 6 A and 10 J, decided he`s skilful enough to play them and flopped the nuts. Well, he better have the skill required to play them because he`s in a world of hurt!
We too have flopped the nuts but, and it is a very big BUT, we are freerolling on the turn and river. So if we could get our opponent to commit all his chips on the flop (bear in mind he too has the nuts at this point) then, any 10 or J on the turn gives us a better hand ,even a K or Q on the turn still gives us a shot at improving on the river for a scoop.
Now imagine we have a couple of suits to go with these cards and you can begin to see what Omaha is all about.
In the next example try to work out just how many cards we have to scoop this pot.
Js Jh Kh Qs
9h 10h Jd
Novice opponents hand:
9d 10s Qc Kc
Worked it out? Well we have nine hearts (one of which gives us a straight flush), two nines and two tens, and of course the case Jack, so fourteen outs to scoop the pot and... wait there`s more.... we also have any running pair on fourth and fifth street. (Yes I know, if our opponent caught a miracle 9-9 or 10-10 we lose to quads) but...I will take a chance on that not occurring any time you would like to bet.
Now you may be able to understand what Omaha is all about! Basically... what we are trying to do in Omaha is to flop a big hand but..also... have as many outs as possible to improve on the turn and river. That`s why you need four working cards. Obliviously there are too many scenarios to cover in detail but this should at least give you a taste of what to look for and what to expect when you learn to play Omaha. Yes, it can be an exciting game but it can also be very frustrating, and there are far more traps to avoid than in regular Hold-em. In fact, on occasions you may have to throw the nuts away on the flop if the betting gets heavy and you realise you are at best in a split pot situation with no outs.... Something you would very rarely, if ever, do at Hold-em.
So now we know a little bit more about the game of Omaha and, hopefully you are beginning to realise that there`s quite a lot to learn if you expect to become a consistent winner at the game. Well, fear not, over the coming weeks I will be writing more on the subject, answering a few questions and filling in the gaps with some useful playing tips, but for now practice reading the flop correctly (nuts, number of outs etc) and practice your hand selection (No rags). A good starting base is paramount to success at poker but... even more so in this form of poker.
I see from one or two posts on the forum that you have become aware of the "Big Game" taking place in London at the 50 Club well, I have been contacted by the Poker Channel to work on both that and the E.P.M ( European Masters). They take place on the 11th and 12th of September and it seems that the line up looks pretty impressive . Names like, Phil Ivy, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson and The Hendon Mob to name but a few. I will have a report on both these events in my next column.
Well, rapidly running out of space so, just time to say my own playing exploits will continue this week at the Broadway casino`s festival up in the centre of Birmingham (yes I know I told you I would be resting ready for the EPT but, well... sometimes... just do as I say... not as I do!). The Broadway is a great venue so if you`ve got nothing special on.. check it out.
Until next time,
Stay safe, play well and enjoy your poker.