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Poker Strategy - Omaha Play.

Recently, a player asked about his play of an Omaha High Low hand. He asked if he played it right. In my view, he played every street wrong. The only way to play the hand worse at any point was to fold. The point here is not to rag on a series of poor choices, but to emphasize how you need to act to extract value from situations, not passively accept what value that other players will just give you. You can't be a beacon, a shining example of success, if you don't let your value shine.
    Omaha Hi/Low $0.50-$1
  • Seat 1 ($54.15 chips)
  • Seat 2 ($14.50 chips)
  • Seat 3 ($25.05 chips)
  • Seat 4 [Ad4sAc2s] ($42.15 chips) -- has the dealer button
  • Seat 5 ($14 chips)
  • Seat 6 ($24.70 chips)
  • Seat 7 ($51.30 chips)

  • Seat5 posts ($0.25)
  • Seat6 posts ($0.50)
  • Seat3 posts ($0.50)
The first thing to note here is that there is an extra blind being posted by a new player. Seat5 is behind the button, but the game is only seven handed. With an extra posted blind, virtually any hand Our Player chooses to play should be raised before the flop from the button. When there is that extra dead money out there, it is simply terrible to give two people free rides, and the small blind a cheap look, when you have a playable hand in best position.
    Seat7 folds, Seat1 calls $0.50, Seat2 calls $0.50, Seat3 checksOur Player calls $0.50, Seat5 calls $0.25, Seat6 checks.
Here we have the most basic mistake in Omaha. Our Player had the best of it at this point, but did not raise to put more money in the pot when he had the best of it. In fact, he had five opponents but only two had to put in a bet the size he did. This makes no logical sense. The point is to make other people put in money when you have the best hand, not the other way around.
    Flop: Qh6c7c
    Seat5 bets $0.50, Seat6 calls $0.50, Seat1 folds,Seat2 calls $0.50, Seat3 calls $0.50, Our Player calls $0.50.
As horrible as the preflop call is, this is worse. Seat1, the person who opened under the gun and thus (all other things being equal) is most likely to have the best hand, or in this case A2xx, folds. Our Player's hand looks even better now. Additionally, it was the small blind who bet. If Our Player raises, we might get a reraise, which will lead to a much bigger pot, or everyone else folding and getting a pot with a lot of dead money in it. Either is fine. Merely calling and again minimizing the pot has no advantages. Also, Our Player has the ace of clubs. He must raise here. If it comes a big club on the turn or river, we certainly don't want an opponent to either bet a small flush, or bluff because no one but the small blind has shown strength. Ideally the original bettor will reraise with a hand that Our Player dominates (like AQ42).

Of course, the key problem remains that there was no preflop raise which makes further play a lot of clueless bumping around in the dark involving a smallish pot, rather than easier to read action involving a larger pot.
    TURN: Qh6c7c8s
    Seat5 bets $1, Seat6 calls $1, Seat2 raises to $2, Seat3 calls $2Our Player calls $2, Seat5 calls $1, Seat6 calls $1.
Here we have a real hatred of money call. What was Our Player waiting for? His hand is as good as it is going to get. If one player has a straight, we can't beat that for high, but presumably some of the other players are drawing live to flushes or full houses or bigger straights. We need to get value out of them now, because if they miss their draws on the river they aren't going to pay.

Even in the worst case scenario, where Our Player is getting 1/6 of the pot, there are five players, so if the betting is capped at $4, and Our Player got 1/6... Our Player would only lose .67 cents ($20 bet from five people, 1/6th = $3.33). Compare that to if Our Player gets 1/4 of the pot (1/4 of $20 = $5) where he wins $1, or where he gets half the pot (1/2 = $10), where his profit is $6. Clearly the loss you have when you get a sixth is more than made up for in the times you get 1/4 or 1/2 the pot.
    RIVER: Qh6c7c8sQs
    Seat5 checks, Seat6 bets $1, Seat2 calls $1, Seat3 folds,Our Player calls $1, Seat5 checkraises to $2, Seat6 calls $1,Seat2 calls $1, Our Player calls $1.
How does Our Player's action here make any sense? What does he think these people have, based on how they bet. Seat6 called the turn but now bets? Seat5 bet the flop and turn and now checks, and then checkraises? Seat2 raises the turn and now calls the new bettor? How can Our Player possibly put any of them on A2, let alone more than one? If we get quartered four way, we lose nothing. If we get 1/6 four way, we lose $1.50. If we get half, we win $4. To not raise, Our Player has to think it is nearly three times more likely that he will get 1/6 than he will get 1/2!

Even the terrible play previous rounds should not have left Our Player so in the dark that he could not conclude that at least two of these players were playing high hands.
    Seat5 shows 7s7h6sKh
    Seat6 shows 6d9hQc6h
    Seat2 shows 4d2c5hJs
    Our Player shows Ad4sAc2s
    Our Player wins low $11.15, Redhanded01(is that seat 2,5 or 6?) wins high $11.20.
Most tellingly, presuming this was not Our Player's second hand in the game, he should have observed the above players previously, which now makes not raising pre-flop to be even worse. The way each played these garbage hands should make Our Player aggressive on the button with even some fairly mediocre hands like A39J.

Online Omaha HiLo games continue to be populated with some of the worst poker playing in the galaxy, and that poor play comes in many forms, including hopelessly passive weak-tight play.

Hopefully Our Player will learn from his mistakes on this hand, but sadly such straightforward, hyper-profitable situations don't come up often. When they do though, it is critical that you "let it shine" and get your money in when you massively have the best of it.

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