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October 7, 2009

Basic Omaha H/l Starting Hands

Since more and more players are getting into Omaha/8 poker, I want to give some basic discussion to starting hands for Omaha 8 (h/l) today. Obviously there are a huge number of possible starting hands simply because of the fact that you are being dealt 4 cards. I strongly recommend that you start out playing very tightly at first until you start to learn what will be likely to scoop you a pot and what is most likely to get you in trouble.

So, you want hands that will give you a chance to scoop, but also a good high starting hand is better than a low. Many players immediately fall in love with A-2, but remember, there may not always be a low high. There will ALWAYS be a high. So, that being said A-A-2-3 would be a great place to start and then you can go from there. Suited and double suited combos are by far the best. You would like your hands to be double suited whenever possible. High pair seldom wins in omaha, so you are looking for combos that can turn into straights, flushes, and full houses. A-2-X-X, A-3-4-X that type of thing is good to get you started.

However, just looking at starting hands is not nearly enough. Are you playing FL Omaha? Pot Limit? NL? What is your position? Chip stack? Etc, etc, etc. Also, is your flush draw the nut flush? Will your straight draw be beaten by a higher straight. Cards like 5-6-7-8 because they do not wrap well. If you make your straight, you are likely to get beat by someone playing face cards who has made a higher straight.

As I said before do not get carried away chasing the low just because you have A-2. You may be in a position where you can only win 1/2 the pot IF everything goes correctly and you may end up getting quartered if someone else has A-2 as well. I will generally try to see a flop with a hand that contains A-2 but I am more concerned with the high draw than I am with catching the low only. So hands like A-K-K-X become very playable.

You can find a list of starting hands anywhere, but in Omaha, these are more of a rule of thumb because so much depends on the version you are playing, etc. Stick to hands that give you a good shot at the low, but be aware you need to only play pots to the river that you have a chance of scooping both pots in.

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