Best Starting Hands for Heads Up Omaha Poker
The strength of starting hands on Omaha poker is determined by how well the 4
cards work together. An emphasis is placed on ‘suitedness’, connectedness, and
high cards with complimentary kickers. These characteristics are shown to be
strong against multiple opponents as you are able to hit flops in a number of
ways. In a heads-up Omaha poker game you only have a single opponent. This
significantly affects the best starting hands in a number of different ways.
Perhaps the most significant difference between starting hands for full ring and heads-up Omaha poker games is the number of potential draws on the flop. For example 4 players call your raise pre-flop, the flop then comes down 6-8-9 of 3 suits. At a full table your pair of kings just went way down in value, at least one of your opponents is likely to have a set, a made straight or at the very least a big draw in hand such as 10-J-Q-A. Heads-up we can not be so sure that this flop hit our single opponent, our kings may retain some value and it is up to us to find out where we stand by the post-flop betting patterns.
The best starting hands for heads-up Omaha poker maintain the same
characteristics as for the multi-player variety. In order to have the potential
to hit the flop in as many ways as possible starting hands which include cards
close in rank are desirable. These give you multiple ways to make straights on
the flop – against a single opponent in a heads-up match a straight is
significantly more likely to be the best hand.
Suited cards also have value in heads-up Omaha poker. The main difference between full ring games and heads-up starting hands is that making the nut straight may not be so critical. For example the fact that you hold 2 spades in your hand will reduce the chances of your opponent holding spades also – drawing to a King, Queen or even Jack high flush is far more likely to win the pot heads-up, while in a full ring game with a flush on the board you are likely only to be called by a very strong flush – often the nut flush.
High pairs and 2-pairs are good starting hands in Omaha poker. In heads-up Omaha these go up in strength. It is not likely that an over-pair to the board will win a showdown at a full table. The combinations of hands held by multiple opponents mean a lower set or stronger hand is likely. In heads-up Omaha your single opponent is less likely to hit any particular flop – meaning an over-pair may be enough to win. As before, pot control and reading your opponent’s tendencies are critical here.
To summarize, many of the same guidelines concerning connecting cards, suited (preferably double suited) cards along with high pairs determine the strength of heads-up Omaha starting hands. Reaching a showdown in a full ring game involves beating the best of a number of holdings that originally saw the flop. In heads-up Omaha your high-pair and flush holdings go up in value as you only need to beat a single opponent.