Big Omaha poker gaining in popularity

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I’m often asked what is the difference between four-card Omaha and the five-card version (Big O). First, let me say that having that extra card really creates a great deal of action. I’ve even heard it been called Omaha on steroids.

Recreational players love Big O. After playing with five cards, they say they cannot go back to four cards, and Hold’em players say they cannot go back to two cards.

Big O is played with eight players, so imagine sitting in a poker game getting 4-1, 5-1 or sometimes even 7-1 on your money with every bet. The number of players seeing a flop and chasing hands creates action you rarely see in limit Hold’em games.

Remember I’m only talking about limit Hi-Lo here, not high only.

Like in any other poker game, the best poker players usually win the money. In all limit Omaha games, you can play very tight with a correct range of starting hands and beat the game consistently. Having patience keeps you and your bankroll under control.

If you are ready to step out of your comfort zone and play a game that gives you an adrenaline rush and a chance to win a lot of money, then learn how to play Big O.

Naturally you want to start with an Ace-Deuce in your hand and preferably another small card for backup. The backup card is the key. What that means is you need a card below 5 for insurance to keep you from getting counterfeited.

Do not play middle cards, meaning hands with with 7’s, 8’s or 9’s. It will only cause you to lose more chips. The players that are playing super low cards win half the pot, and if you play middle cards, that will ultimately cause you to lose a lot of money over the long term.

I want to be clear. Do not play like I do. As my wife says, she learned how to play from me. She watches what I do — then does the opposite. I’ve been told more than a few times I’m too aggressive and like to gamble too much.

I am like Will Rogers. I’ve never met a hand I did not like.

But if you really want to win money, do not raise pre-flop with an Ace-Deuce and one other baby card under a 6. Preferably the ace is suited. The reason you want to call in this spot is to maximize your potential profit by getting more players in a hand where you are a favorite to win.

This is the opposite strategy in most poker games where you want to raise to shorten the field to improve your chances of winning.

Below are 10 tips that will give you the knowledge and confidence to play in any Big O game:

1. Always play super low card hands or all paint. Avoid middle cards.

2. I like one or two pictures in my hand in case the flop comes with a mix of low and high cards. This gives you a chance to pivot your hand.

3. Because hands play to showdown more often, you have a better opportunity to analyze your opponents’ plays.

4. Raising the pots does little to help you win. The nuts on the turn is not the winning hand many times. The hand is won on the river.

5. In the first three positions, check raising is important to build your pots.

6. Backup cards are the best weapon in your arsenal.

7. Your swings are greater than most poker games, so when your rush happens manage your money.

8. When you’re running bad, change seats or games if possible. Maybe take a break.

9. Keep your opponents in, so the pots are bigger when you are drawing at the absolute nuts.

10. Regarding game selection, choose tables with lots of action. Avoid dead games — which means the players are too tight, folding too much which means smaller pots and higher rake.

Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, Calif., lead the change over to Big O. All the other card rooms in Los Angeles followed. I am convinced that the first casino in Las Vegas that features Big O will dominate the Omaha market.

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