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04/12/2006 No. 5
he Guardian G2 Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Monday Dec 4th, 2006

The benefit of Omaha (which is just like hold 'em, except you are dealt four or five "hole cards" and you must use two of them with three from the board to make your hand) is that, by giving people more cards, you give them more reason to stay in the pot and gamble.

Beware: good Omaha players are usually stronger and more knowledgeable, with better maths, than most hold 'em players. But if you can be the first to teach your friends Omaha, you could mop up their life savings while they're still getting the hang of it.
How? By playing solid. In your starting hands, you want all the cards working together. Hold 'em aficionados will go dizzy with excitement if they find a pair of aces. That's not such a golden goose in Omaha; your hand won't be huge unless you have suited cards with the aces, giving you nut flush draws as well as the pair. Straightening hands (like K-K-Q-J) are also strong. But something like J-J-7-3 is just rubbish: the pair is useless unless you flop a set, and the other cards are "danglers" that don't help you.

Having said that, no Omaha hand is a significant underdog before the flop. So in a good game, you can see a lot of flops. But after the flop, you should be super-solid. Hold 'em players will think any flush or straight is a monster, and that two pair is bound to be winning. Not so. If you're drawing to a flush or straight in Omaha, it should be the nut draw. If you're playing two pair, it should be the top two (and even that is vulnerable). If there's a pair on the board, do not bet strongly without a full house.

Let your friends gamble with all their extra cards, play the nuts and nut draws, and (as you clean them out) they will grumble at your luck in "finding" so many big hands. The secret is: you were waiting for them.


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