Omaha Hi Lo Starting Hands
Omaha Hi Lo starting hands is one hell of a hotly discussed topic and unlike other card games there really isn’t any accepted basic strategy. The same conventions do apply though such as opening up your range in late position, staying tight when out of position and three betting late position openers with a wide range to exploit players who steal on a regular basis. This article aims to give you a basic understand of Omaha Hi Lo starting hands and how to value hands before the flop.
One of the fundamental leaks in many Omaha Hi Lo players games, especially those with Holdem backgrounds, is thinking of their four card hand as two two card hands. You must always think about how well your four cards work together and not think about it like you have two good holdem hands. The two games are very different and require a very different approach to starting hand requirements.
In fact most hands that don’t have both high and low potential should be mucked before the flop. However there are a few hands which you should consider playing that can only ever win the high pot.
Omaha Hi Lo Starting Hand Requirements
First lets look at the types of hands that you can consider to be strong hands yet they can only win the high half of any pot. These hands must always contain four cards that are equal to or greater than in value to a Ten. You can play hands that are higher than a Ten which contain a pair and two flushing cards such as Ah-Jh-Qd-Ts, hands which contain two pairs and finally any hands above Ten that are double suited.
If you are entering into a pot and only have the a chance of winning 50% of the pot then you are already at a disadvantage in terms of potential earnings, the strength of your hand must be high to compensate for this!
Best Omaha Hi Lo Starting Hands
A-2 / A-3 hands have high value with any either high or low connecting kickers for example A-2-5-6, A-3-T-J etc. The best Omaha Hi Lo starting hands are those that can win both the high pot and the low pot. Less well valued but still playable, especially from late position, A-2 and A-3 hands would be A-2-8-9, A-2-2-K or A-3-7-8 as well as many A-2 or A-3 hands that are double suited. You can also consider playing A-4 and A-5 hands that are double suited or well connected.
The later your position at the table the more hands you can play, especially if the action has been folded around to you. Stealing the blinds is as important as ever when playing Omaha Hi Lo and if you’re sat in a pot limit or no limit game then there is always scope for 3 betting late position stealers with a wide range of hands as well.
The flow of the game, your position at the table and your table image should all be major contributors in deciding which hands to play and which hands not to play before the flop. If you’ve got a tight image then you’re obviously going to get more respect when you do attempt to steal, if you’re image is loose then you can expect to get paid off by worse hands. If you’ve just lost a big pot then you’re likely to get less credit for having a big hand and more credit for being on tilt, if you’ve just won a bit pot then you’ll probably find players giving you more credit than you deserve for having a strong holding. Always think about the table dynamics when deciding whether to play a hand or not.
Thoughts On Omaha Hi Lo Starting Hand Charts
Omaha Hi Lo isn’t the kind of game you are going to get really good at if you make all your preflop decisions based on a starting hand chart or points system. Whilst it might seem easier it’s certainly not going to allow you to develop into a strong winning player. You need to learn to read the game, your opponents and the table dynamics and then adjust your starting hand ranges accordingly. Scotty Nuguyen, among others, is an advocate of playing any hand that contains an ace. Some of the best Omaha Hi Lo players in the world, such as Sammy Farha, play ultra loose styles so what is a starting hand chart to say what the best Omaha Hi Lo starting hands are?!
The fact of the matter is you need to develop your own preflop style that is adaptable to the situation you are in, not follow rules set in stone about what hands you can and can’t play and when you should or shouldn’t play them. Not using an Omaha Hi Lo starting hand chart will allow you to develop as a player much quicker and ultimately make you a much stronger player.
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