In this article, we will look at some of the most common characteristics that poor omaha players share.

1) Looseness
How loose is too loose? Sometimes poker authors suggest percentages of how many hands should be played from each position. This is wrong. The correct percentage of hands you can and should play (i.e. the minimal acceptable hand quality that is profitable) depends on the game you find yourself in! Full-ring games will differ from short-handed games, passive from aggressive, low limits from high limits. Having said this, it should be noted that many players play too loose for any game. If you find yourself in significantly more hands than most of your opponents at the table, you are likely giving up some edge. (Though again, loose-aggressive play just might be the most profitable strategy at your table! Adjust accordingly but do not be overly loose without a good reason.)

2) Hand Quality Misconception
The second point is closely related to the first one. Looseness and poor judgment go hand-in-hand. Many players overlook the fact that hands change value depending on position. Playing a dry A2 (A2 offsuit with two other weak cards) is very different on the button when no one has entered the pot then in early position with likely callers and raisers behind you. Hand value in any particular game depends on position and opposition. Imagine a tough game where all players enter a pot with at least A2XX for low and with some other low card as counterfeit protection. If you enter a pot with A2XX, you will now be counterfeited by others players drawing at the nut low and will likely get only a quarter of the pot. On the other hand, if you have players in the game who gladly draw to a low with A4XX, the value of your A2XX has increased dramatically. The profitability of different hands will vary. (By the way, there is little reason to play in tight games. You will invest your time better looking for a looser game, which should pose no problems online.) Whenever a fish sits down, he never asks: “Where can the edge in this particular game come from?”.

3) Pot Misconception
No, I am not referring to drugs here. I am talking about the split nature of omaha high/low. Half the pot to the best hand, half the pot to the “worst” hand. Winning both ends is referred to as “scooping” and is one of the fundamental concepts of profitable omaha play. Most players will automatically enter a pot or keep drawing to just one end. “I have a nut flush draw. I’ll stay in.” “I am drawing to nut low. I’ll call anything.” Beginning players often get confused when they are told by poker authors to just “draw to the nuts” in omaha high/low and “you will win”. While the advice is correct in principle, there are times when it is incorrect to keep drawing or even calling with the nuts in omaha! This is particularly true with low-only draws. Playing for low-only means playing for only half the pot, if that (low may not be possible or you may be quartered or worse). If there are other players in the hand and there is lot of jamming, it is likely that somebody else made his low. If you do not believe me, always stay in the pots with your low-only when lot of jamming happens. There will be times when you will get only one sixth of the pot although you contributed significantly more (also, don’t forget to subtract rake to see how unprofitable this situation is for you). This is not to say that one should not stay in a pot with a low-only when jamming occurs (you will likely face this situation frequently). The point is you should not do it automatically because it is not an automatically profitable play. Paying attention to the pot, high/low ends and how they affect the profitability of your hand, is not something that fish bother with.

4) Flop Insensitivity
It is sometimes said that the flop is the defining moment in hold’em. It’s even more true of omaha. In hold’em, on the flop, you have seen five out of seven cards (about 71%). In omaha, on the flop, you have seen seven out of nine cards (about 78%). Many new players fail to recognize how the flop changes the value of their hand. For example, a high only flop (no low cards) changes the game into regular omaha. There can be no split. If there is a single low card on the flop, a low is possible but drawing to a low alone now is a losing proposition (whenever I notice players drawing to a low only, on a flop with only one low card, I think “this man can pay my rent!”). Similarly, a low only flop (three cards that can qualify for a low) or a flop with only one high card, strongly devalues all the high hands, because the pot will now be very likely split. High hand is likely not to scoop now.

There are of course other weak areas of play that fish have, but these are the most glaring ones. Until next time.

To discuss this article, hit up “bohemian” in the poker forums!

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Profile of a Typical Omaha Hi-Lo Fish
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