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Betting on Omaha

Showing strength can be important in how you play your hand in Omaha, just as it is in Hold'em. But there’s a big difference -- betting big in Omaha on most boards ,especially betting from early position, essentially advertises to everyone at the table your exact hand value to the other players, who can then act accordingly. Betting hard on what looks like an obvious straight will transmit that information to your opponents who will be able to evaluate if their draws are capable of beating what you hold and worth calling in hopes of hitting their outs.

The interesting thing about betting in general is that it indicates strength, but also indicates vulnerability. There's almost always potential that someone can outdraw your made hand, and by betting, you attempt to assure that you win the pot before that happens. This is a very important concept in flop/post-flop Omaha play.

Pre-flop betting, however, can be a different story. In Hold'em betting pre-flop is important because it gets people with marginal hands out of the pot. Big/medium pairs are great to have in Hold’em, but they need protection from weak over cards such as A5 and K9. There's nothing worse than slow playing a pair and then finding that someone flops a weird two pair or higher than your pocket pair that makes your hand junk. You don't mind that people know that you have a big pair or big cards, since that can be used as leverage to make them fold later on.

But in Omaha, betting pre-flop is not a good practice. A maximum bet pre-flop in Omaha almost always indicates that the person holds aces/kings single or double suited. They're trying to eliminate all the people with the other flush draws and straight draws that can easily outdo them if they see a favorable flop. Armed with that information, you can now act accordingly with your hand. If you do call and hit a K-high flush on the flop, and the preflop better bets out hard, you can be quite sure that he holds the A-high flush. A fold in a spot like that will save you a lot money in the end, and the pre-flop bettor will not win as much from second best hands because people will assume that his raise on the flop/turn indicates an extremely good hand.

Don't make the mistake of giving away your hand strength needlessly. Just like in Hold’em, position is very important. If you have a very strong hand and are in first position, you must bet to protect your hand, but this gives away information to the other players. If you have the same hand but are in late position, you can make the same exact bet and people will not necessarily pin you on a certain made hand.

Slow playing and check-raises can be very powerful tools in Omaha, just as they are in Hold’em. If on the turn you hit a nut hand such as a flush or full house, it is also likely that someone hit a lower hand, and will bet it if the other players show weakness.

For example, if you hold Kc Ks Td Js and the board comes 5d 5s Kd, there is no reason to bet out hard on the flop and drive people out of the hand. In this situation the only thing to be afraid of is if someone has 55 or if an ace or another 5 hits the board. Since that is very unlikely, let people take some free/cheap cards while holding a lower pocket pair or 5 hoping to hit a full house. Often if no one bets out revealing a hand of KK or K5, people will bet out when they hit a non-nut full house later on.

Take note that slow playing is very risky with a straight or flush, as it can be easily beaten if the board pairs. Check-raising, however, can be used if you are a) in early position b) hold the nut straight (or, preferably, a flush) and c) believe that people behind you will bet and then call a re-raise.

Check-raising is a play that generally depends on the players at the table, as well as your table image. Loose-aggressive players will likely bet out if they hold a decent hand (K-high flush for example) and may even call a medium/large re-raise. Good players know that check raises represent big red flags, since good players will generally not do them unless they have an extremely strong hand that isn’t vulnerable to giving a free draw.


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