Heads Up Omaha Strategy
As the popularity of Omaha poker grows so does the number of heads-up Omaha
poker games available. The most common form is Pot-Limit Omaha, where bet sizes
can be anything up to the size of the current pot. Fixed Limit Omaha heads-up
poker games are also widely available. This article will cover the important
strategy concepts for heads-up Omaha poker, covering starting hands, position
and reading your opponent’s playing style.
Omaha poker has 4 starting cards, at showdown exactly 2 cards from your hand and 3 from the board must be used to make a poker hand. There are two important starting hand concepts that are important in heads-up Omaha games. Firstly there are no ‘big favorites’ before the flop in Omaha poker. Secondly that the strongest Omaha hands contain 4 cards which ‘work together’ – for example to make straights or flushes as well as containing high cards.
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Omaha is far more of a post-flop game than Texas Holdem. In a heads-up situation
raising your stronger starting hands is more about taking control of the hand
than pushing an edge before the flop.
The flop is also far more likely to hit both you and your opponent in some way in an Omaha heads-up poker game. This means an understanding of the relative strength of hands after the flop is an important strategy concept. Holding a strong draw can make you favorite over a made hand on certain flops, for example if you hold both straight and flush draws against an opponent with top pair.
Position is an important aspect of all heads-up poker games. The player who acts last after the flop, turn and river gets to see their opponent’s reactions before making their own decisions. In Omaha heads-up matches position is more important still. This is due to the betting structure – pot limit betting means players are less likely to be all-in early in the hand - so your position has more time to work to your advantage.
Position in Omaha heads-up matches also gives you more opportunity to manage the size of the pot. If you wish to keep the pot small then calling a post-flop bet or taking a free card by checking behind are both possible. Conversely with a strong holding betting out or re-raising can build the pot so that the next street gets a good proportion of the remaining chips into the pot.
As in all forms of heads-up poker it is adapting your play to the particular opponent in each game that will give you the biggest edge. In Omaha it is more difficult to put your opponent on an exact hand – since there are 4 hole cards. Instead you need to watch how your opponent reacts to your bets, calls and raises with certain types of hand. For example does this opponent bet out with strong draws? Will this opponent call large bets with a single pair or 2 small pair holdings? How does this opponent react with the nuts – do they bet out or check, hoping to check raise?
The key factor with Omaha poker heads-up strategy is the ability to combine these three critical factors. Strong starting hands played aggressively from good position together with a read on your opponent’s strength based on their previous betting styles will provide you with a winning combination.