When in a multi-player pot, play for the nuts
Omaha and Omaha Hi-low are very different games to Hold’em. In Hold’em a pair of aces will frequently hold to the river, a set is a monster hand and a full house a licence to print money. In Omaha the hand values run differently. With the extra two cards in your hand, flushes and straights are common place. If you have an ‘underfull’ full house (for example the board reads Q-J-J-7-5 and you hold a pair of sevens in the hole) you will often be beaten by the ‘overfull’ of a player holding queens in the hole or by a Q-J.
What does this mean in practice? With three flush cards on board and a multi-player pot (three or more players) there is a good chance the flush is out there. If the board pairs, a full house is possible. The more players you are up against, the more likely it is you have been out-drawn. With two to a flush or a straight on board, one or several opponents may be drawing. If you hold A-3 for a low and there is significant action, assume someone else has A-2 unless you have a good read otherwise.
The implication: If drawing in a multi-way pot, ideally you should be drawing to a strong two way hand (a good high and low), or to the nuts in one direction. Having position and being able to control the size of the bet by closing the action helps greatly. If drawing one way, you should draw to the nuts or risk losing all in an expensive pot. Don’t draw a one way hand to a bare straight with two to a flush on board. Don’t draw to a bare flush on a low board without the nut card in your hand. Even with a set, you need to be careful about drawing to the underfull, especially if out of position.
Note that if you play a pot heads up on the flop then different standards apply. Heads up, it’s not essential to hold the nuts, but you should look for a two way hand, or the nuts in one direction. But in a multi way pot, then drawing to a hand which is not the nuts is one of the quickest ways to lose your money.
This is an extract from Omaha 8 or Better – Winning at High-Lo Poker by Andy Mack