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5-Card Omaha Strategy
People tend to assume that the more hole cards you get dealt then the more the action, and to an extent this is true. Weaker players will play more hands because they see more possibilities in those hands. But for any decent players being selective over starting hands is still of utmost importance, therefore the amount of hands played in 5 card omaha strategy shouldn’t different too much from regular omaha.
Starting hands with pairs
Group 1: JJxxx, QQxxx, KKxxx, AAxxx – are all reasonable starting pairs
Group 2: 88xxx, 99xxx, TTxxx – can be considered if combined with some wrap/flush potential
Group 3: 77xxx, 66xxx, 55xxx, 44xxx, 33xxx, 22xxx – are too poor to consider playing.
As a general rule try to stick to group 1 pairs, and avoid group 3 pairs. With group 3 pairs there is simply too much risk that your (hopeful) set will be beaten by a better set.
Starting hands with suits
Group 1: AdXdAsXsX, AdXdXXX – single and double suits to the ace
Group 2: AdXdXdXX, KdXdXXX – single suit to the ace with 3 cards of a suit, and single suit to the king
Group 3: QdXdXXX and lower – are essentially poor flush hands
Good suited hands will have 2 cards of a suit including the ace, making nut flush draws vs lesser flushes possible, with you obviously holding the stronger of those two. Group 2 hands are just about playable with the nut flush draw a little less likely to hit in both cases.
With group 3 flush hands, there really is no merit in playing them because all you are doing is exposing yourself to the reverse implied odds of you hitting your flush but being up against a better flush.
Starting hands with wraps
Group 1: 6789T, 6789A, 789TJ, 789TA, 89TJx (X being A,K,Q,6), 9TJQx (X being A,K,7), TJQKA
Group 2: 56789, 6789x, 789Tx, Or 5 in a row with a single gap, Or 4 in a row with a single gap and no card lower than a seven.
Group 3: 4567x or lower, Any wrap with 2 gaps or more – vulnerable wraps that should be avoided as a general rule.
The best starting hands have a bit of a combination of the above. Ideally you would have a hand that falls into two group 1s, or a Group 1 plus a Group 2.
For example a high pair combined with two suited cards to the ace, or some wrapable cards combined with two suited cards to the ace. Failing that, starting hands that qualify for a single group one, but not much else, are also playable.
But try to make sure that at least 4 of the cards are working together somehow. A mini combo if you will. For example QQT9X. So the QQ is your group 1 qualifier, but the T9 adds a little extra power with the straight possibilities.
If your wrap hand doesn’t contain an ace then you are really looking to have one of two things. Either the top end of a particular straight draw, or a combination of a straight/straight-draw and 2 paired cards to give you a redraw. Say if you hit the straight on the flop or the turn, this is still pretty vulnerable in 5-card Omaha.
Having a redraw to a full house adds an extra safety net, either by you hitting the full house or by your blockers lessening the chance of someone else hitting one.
These sort of hands where a backdoor draw comes in by the river are relatively commonplace in 5-card Omaha, so don’t become completely married to your hand when you see a good flop.
Sometimes you will need to sigh and give up on it by the river if a potential backdoor draw comes in and your opponent seems to like it. The best way to protect against this is to bet the flop more frequently, resisting the urge to slowplay hands. And then look to bet the turn heavy to make any drawers pay a big price for the draw.
If you have a hand with two group 1s, or a group 1 and a group 2, then you should always raise preflop. Your main aim is to built the initial pot to a size that becomes attractive and likely to lead to much more expensive floats and draws when the action gets to post flop.
You have a strong basis from your starting hand, so if you hit the flop your hand has a good chance of being the nuts or drawing to the nuts. If someone 3bets against you then make sure you have at least AA with half combo, or a strong overall double group 1 combo before committing to further pre-flop raises. If this doesn’t apply be prepared to just call and to re-evaluate on the flop – effective stack sizes permitting, of course.
Post flop game play
With a flush draw you are almost always looking to hold the nut flush draw to the ace. Drawing to anything less is really a recipe for disaster unless you’re playing a very loose opponent. If you have a weaker flush draw, make sure you have hit at least top 2 pair, because at least then your flush cards act as blockers and your 2 pairs have a reasonable chance of holding against a nut flush draw.
Be a bit wary of potential straight-flush draws too. The assumed ace “nut” flush might not be the nut so keep you eyes well and truly open. On the flip side this can be a good way to really trip up an opponent. Some group 1 or 2 wrapable cards with a couple of suits always have the potential (albeit slim) for a straight flush, and can get an Ace-high flush to stackoff as a loser, or at least contribute a very large amount to the pot.
If you have just a straight or straight draw then make sure your cards make up the top end of the straight, extending it fully. The low end is a recipe for disaster, and even 1 card off the high-end is likely to cost you a lot in the long run. For example with 67A8 on the board, having a 5 and a 9 really isn’t that good at all.
What you need is something like 9TJxx, so that you have the full extended top end of the straight, but you also retain the nut straight if a 9, ten, or jack comes on the river. Be a little careful with flush draws present, and try to hold some blockers to the flush if you are going to stack off hoping the straight will hold. They will also act as a redraw if up against a player with the same nut straight.
If you hit a set make sure it’s the top set (with no flushes or straight present) before getting overly invested in the pot. Bet it hard so that those on a draw will have to pay significantly to see any more cards.