Play Omaha if you treat poker like a business

January 20, 2015 3:00 AM


Full Tilt Poker involved too many novices I remember seeing an ad for an online poker site that said, “Come play poker with the best players in the world.” I thought it should say, “Play poker with the worst players in the world.”

The old black and white Full Tilt ads that used to feature world-class players walking down Fremont Street in Las Vegas were meant to convey the message to come and play for fun. It had the opposite effect on me; I never wanted to play with them. How were those guys going to give me money?

If you want to play poker professionally, you must treat it like a business and look for weaker opponents you can beat. Traveling around the world hustling poker, gin rummy and pool in my early days taught me a lot about people and how to make money from gambling.

You can profile gamblers into several groups and determine which group you want to play with to earn money and not only survive, but thrive, in the gambling world. The poker food chain can be summed up in the following way:

At the bottom are the Limit Hold’em players that have the least amount of money and are really struggling to pay their bills. You also find more recreational players in this group. The problem is not so much the income or standard of living of the players but the fact the rake takes such a heavy toll on the amount of money you can earn.

The major plus is you can manage your bankroll better in limit games. You should play these games more as a hobby or for entertainment purposes and not as a way to pay your bills. Only about one percent can make a living playing at the bottom of the poker food chain.

The next level in the poker food chain contains the No Limit players. These players tend to be younger, and many grew up as gamers. They spent a lot of time watching poker on television, and play for the adrenaline rush and glory they see on television, hoping to become the next rags-to-riches story.

If you look deeper, however, you will find these players often have very little financial responsibility or families to support and are living in the fast lane. This phase lasts from around the ages of 21 to 30. We have all been there. It seems like those times will never end.

I would put Omaha and mixed games at the top of the poker food chain. More professional people who have money and limited hours to play sit in these games, and they can lose and not be bored or go broke, and they keep on playing day after day. These players are the producers of the money that feeds the games. You have more doctors, lawyers and executives playing – and losing – at Omaha.

Don’t get me wrong: They are smart and understand the game. They are successful in life, but because they are busy making money most of the time, when they play poker, it’s for entertainment.

This is the perfect poker situation for the top of the poker economy, and this is the level you want to play at if you want to play poker for a living. I noticed the more complicated the game, the more it attracted people who had high earning power, which resulted in more money for them to lose and more money for me to earn.

The bottom line is you meet amazing people in poker wherever you play, and the most money to be earned is at the top of the poker food chain. You need to be able to play whatever poker game presents the best opportunity to earn, and a great way to expand your poker skill set is by learning and mastering Omaha poker.

If you are ready to learn Omaha, I would recommend reading articles by Steve Badger, who I consider the authority on writing about the game. Steve has a World Series of Poker bracelet in Omaha Hi/Lo. He also owned, which he sold to PokerStars in 2010. I once asked Steve what made him like Omaha so much, and he responded, “I heard you were in the game.”

In Part 2, I will give an overview of the best places to play Omaha in Southern California and Las Vegas.

Note: This article originally appeared on Thank you to Robbie Strazynski for allowing it to be reprinted.

Robert Turner is a legendary poker player and billiard marketing expert, best known for inventing the game of Omaha poker and introducing it to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. In the year 2000, he created World Team Poker, the first professional league for poker. He has over 30 years experience in the gaming industry and is co-founder of Crown Digital Games. Twitter @thechipburnerRobert can be reached at

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