Hands to Avoid & Game Selection

Now that we know what type of hand to bet on, here are some hands that should probably be folded. Be careful when these hit the table.

almost no low possibilities
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This hand has almost no low possibilities since the six is too high. There are no flush possibilities and only a straight possibility for a high.

This hand has almost nothing going for it.
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Even if you hit a low, an 8 low almost never wins. If you hit a flush or a straight, either one is too low to win in most cases. This hand has almost nothing going for it.

This hand has a very weak low draw
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This hand has a very weak low draw and very little high possibilities.

This last example illustrates an important point. Many players might think this hand has great straight potential. While this is true, even if you do hit a straight, it will rarely be the best possible straight, and most of the time it will be because there are three cards 8 and below on the
board
, which makes a low hand for someone else. So you will be playing for only half the pot, and you will rarely have a lock on that half because your top potential is so low. Do you see why this hand is a dangerous one? If you are playing for only half the pot, make sure you are drawing to the best possible hand.

Here is some specific advice about your starting-hand selections. As you are learning to play Omaha/8, play only the following hands. An x denotes any card of any rank.
A "w" denotes a wheel card (2, 3, 4, or 5).
A "t" denotes a ten through a king (T-J-Q-K).

  1. [A 2 x x] You must be careful with just an A-2 and no counterfeit protection.

  2. [A 3 x x] Play this hand if the ace is suited to one of your other cards.

  3. [A w w x] Play as long as the two wheel cards are not the same, like 4-4

  4. [w w w w] Play four wheel cards even if you have one pair, but not if you hold two pairs or trips.

  5. [A t t t] Play an ace with three high cards, especially if the ace is suited. This is a strong hand, particularly if the board doesn't come up with a possible low.

  6. [t t t t] Play four high cards, even with a pair or two pairs. This hand is also a good high-only hand.
These guidelines are extremely tight and are meant to be used while you are learning the game. As you gain experience and learn your opponents' playing styles and hand selection, you can play a few more starting hands. Hands with an A, 3, and two high cards are often playable as well as hands containing an ace suited to one other card that offer flush and straight possibilities and some low potential, such as A-4-6-7.

Beginning Omaha/8 players often overrate pairs, especially pocket aces. Unlike Hold'em, a pair will almost never win a pot. Even trips are often beat by a straight, flush, or full house. Hold'em players who start to play Omaha often not only play a hand like
A-A-7-8 but also will raise with it before the flop. This hand is unplayable because it will not win the low even if a low is made and will rarely win even if an ace comes on the board unless the board pairs (making a full house), and the 7 and 8 are almost worthless. So if you are a Hold'em player learning to play Omaha/8, don't fall into the trap of overvaluing pocket pairs because they must improve, sometimes considerably, to win.

Game Selection

If you have the choice of more than one game of Omaha/8 to play in, you should look for these type of games:
  1. A game that has over 50 percent of the players seeing most flops. In most poker games, especially Omaha/8 and Hold'em, the player who starts with the best hand will win a higher percentage of the time than any other player. If you follow the starting hand guidelines above, you will be entering the pot with a stronger hand on average than the other players.

  2. A game with little or no pre-flop raising. You will learn to prefer a game full of passive players.
Sometimes in a card room it may be difficult to find these games, but if you play on the Internet, these games are plentiful.

Now that we've covered basic strategy, it is time to delve into more detailed techniques. Move on to the next section for some of the more complex aspects of Omaha.

For more information on Omaha poker and other variations, try the following links: