Starting hands in Omaha Poker: everything you need to know

More and more poker fans are deciding to get started in Omaha poker, and that is why we are going to review the key aspects of the starting hands in this modality. We are going to focus on Omaha High, all its basic concepts and we will make a brief review of some differences with Texas Hold'em hands.

The first thing you should know is that in Omaha Poker determining the strength of the starting hands is essential to define our strategy for the future. And by future we mean later in the round. That is to say, a bad move at the beginning will compromise your game.

Double suited starting hands


If we had to make a ranking with the 30 best starting hands of Omaha High poker, they would be the following. And keep in mind that the representations of 10 usually appear in T if you decide to train on your own and expand your information with books of professional Omaha High poker players.

Caption:

10: the card with the number 10. In other sources it may be represented by a T.

X: undefined card.

*: hand that is not double suited.

  • A Aª K K
  • A A J 10
  • A A Qª Q
  • A Aª J J
  • A A 10 10ª
  • A A 9 9ª
  • A A X X
  • *J 10 9 8ª
  • K K Qª Q
  • Kª K Jª J
  • *K Q J 10
  • Kª K 10 10
  • K K A Q
  • K K Aª J
  • Kª K A 10ª
  • K K Q Jª
  • K K Qª 10ª
  • K K J 10
  • Q Q J J
  • Q Q 10 10
  • Q Q Aª K
  • Q Qª A J
  • Qª Q A 10
  • Q Q K J
  • Q Q K 10ª
  • Qª Q J 10
  • Q Q J 9ª
  • Q Qª 9ª 9
  • J J 10 10ª
  • J J 10ª 9ª

Keep in mind that the suits of the cards are indicative and do not define the strength of the hand, and can be interchangeable with each other.

Blockers, danglers and rundowns


These three elements play a crucial role in Omaha poker strategy. The dangler is a term that refers to the hole cards. As a general rule, the dangler is a low value card that could not be used in any hand. If it does not help the four-card hand, it is left out and that is why it is called a dangler.

For example, if we have Aª K Qª 4, we will see that not all cards work the same. Aª K Qª can help us to tie a straight, but the 4 does not enter in those plans. The 4 would be the dangler, in this case.

A hand with a dangler can be folded very easily. This is because these are hands that do not have coordinated cards, as in the example we have used. However, you can take advantage of them in late positions to steal the blinds.

The blockers are, on the other hand, cards that do not have options to be part of a good play, like the danglers. The difference is that the dangler is discarded because it does not fit into our plans to form our hand, and the blocker stays out to avoid weakening our preflop hand.

For a novice player, detecting a blocker card can be difficult in some hands. For example, there are combinations in which a three of a kind enters very well through the eyes and we forget that one of those cards that is forming the three of a kind is reducing the options that the deck gives us. That usually comes to us badly, and a powerful hand in Texas Hold'em can be a disastrous hand in Omaha poker.

For example: we have K K 8 5ª. Perfect, it is a good preflop hand. It opens a world of possibilities because it has no blockers. We can make threes, fulls....

Let's change the hand now to K K Kª 5ª. A three of kings is not bad at all... right? Wrong! In truth, it is a terrible hand for us because one of the kings is reducing the range of strong hands that we had with the pair of kings. There we have a blocker in what is, in theory, a good hand. But nothing could be further from the truth, as you can see.

As for “rundowns”, is a term used to define four cards in sequential order that have been obtained without jumps. To be considered rundowns they must be of the same suit, and in Omaha they have enormous potential if they are not folded cards.

Key points of the starting hands in Omaha Poker

This is not the first time we talk about the differences with Texas Hold'em, but it never hurts to remember some of them. Mainly, because if you come from playing well in the Texas variant there are aspects with which you will have to familiarize yourself playing Omaha poker. Identifying blocking cards in a theoretically good hand is just one of those aspects.

For example, being dealt four cards instead of two, there will be combinations that are not always as good as they may first appear. For example, holding a pair of kings involves taking some risks, and a pair of aces is not an excellent choice either.

In fact, you generally have to be careful with pairs in Omaha poker. They can compromise the hand we are aiming for, and threes, as in the case we have seen above, can leave us in a bad position, even with the highest cards.

As a note, keep in mind that in PLO there are more than 16.000 starting hands. Memorizing them is impossible, so, in this variant, experience and adaptability are a very important plus to know when you are in a good position preflop.

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