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Why a Texas Holdem Mentality is Recipe for Failure in Omaha Poker

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Texas Hold'em players often take up Omaha poker when they get a bit bored of Holdem or are ready to learn a new poker game.

Since both are flop-based, community card games, they figure that the concepts learned in Hold'em will work playing Omaha.

In reality, a Hold'em mentality will typically lead to disaster. So here are a few tips for transitioning from Texas Hold'em to Omaha poker.

Overvaluing Aces

When players first transition from Texas Hold'em to Omaha Poker, they tend to fall into the trap of overvaluing certain hands, especially hands with aces.

For example, in Texas Hold'em pocket aces is about 77% to win against a hand like 8-7 suited. In Omaha a hand like As-Ad-Kh-Ks is only about 59% to win against a hand like 7s-8s-9s-10s.

Even the biggest hands in Omaha do not have a huge advantage over other hands and players with a Hold'em mentality tend to over play these types of hands.

Chasing Non-Nut Draws

Also, players tend to chase after too many non-nut draws in Omaha poker. The odds of a flush-over-flush situation in Texas Hold'em are very low in comparison to Omaha poker.

However, with the myriad of potential starting hands in Omaha, the odds of two players having a flush is very high. So it's not profitable to chase after non-nut draws in Omaha.

In heads-up hands, nut draws have a greater potential to win but still will lose a much higher percentage of the time than non-nut draws.

Texas Hold'em rewards players who speculate with hands and push their edges with huge pre-flop hands. Players in Omaha that try and apply the same concept will quickly find themselves on the rail having blown through their stack or bankroll.

Board Evaluation

There are no pre-flop starting hands in Omaha poker with a massive advantage over another. So many players will tend to see the flop on a regular basis.

Once you reach the flop you need to evaluate your hand deeper than you normally would in Texas Hold'em. The two things that you need to do at each street of a hand is to evaluate your hand and what potential hands could come to beat you.

First, you need to evaluate what types of draws or even redraws that you have. For those new to the game, a redraw is a secondary draw that you have in addition to a flopped hand. 

For example, if you flop the nut straight but also have a flush draw, you have a redraw to a flush. Next, you will need to evaluate what potential hands could be out there that are better than yours.

If you start with 10s-9s-8c-7d and the flop falls 6c-7c-2d, right now you're sitting with a wrap draw and a pair of sevens. A wrap draw in Omaha is when you flop a straight draw where more than eight cards can come to make your hand.

In this case any ten, nine, eight or five will make your straight. You have 13 outs for your straight. But what redraws do you have? In this case, you have none. Your opponent could very likely be on the same straight draw as you, be drawing to a flush, have flopped two pair, or even a set.

Go Deep

The same evaluation needs to take place on the turn. Players will either have a hand or they will have a draw. If you hit your hand you need to determine if it is the nuts. If it is not, do you have a redraw to the nuts?

In Texas Hold'em, if you were to flop a hand like two pair or a pair with flush draw, it would be a hand that you press in many situations. In Omaha, you must evaluate each hand deeply or find yourself in a huge hole.

A Game of Small Edges

Players transitioning to Omaha poker from Texas Hold'em should be aware that the game does not have the same edges as they are used to.

In Texas Hold'em, hands like aces are a huge favorite against all hands and players can easily play the game when they have a huge advantage. The best players in Hold'em are those that play well when they don't have huge edges but small edges.

In Omaha, the edges are always small and in many cases you are about 60/40. Even hands with huge amounts of outs are not as dominating as they seem.

For example, if you have a huge wrap draw that has 20 outs to make you a winning hand, Hold'em players would assume you are about 80% to win. However, that just isn't the case with Omaha.

Any player holding a pair higher than your wrap draw will drop your odds to 73%. If any player had a set, then you drop to about 54%. You go from being a "huge favorite" to being in a virtual coin flip.

Small Edges = Huge Swings

Since you only have small edges you will see huge swings in your bankroll based on luck. Long term you will still come out ahead, but the swings can be brutal. The best players are those who still push their small edges when it is correct to do so.

Using a Texas Hold'em mentality to approach Omaha poker is a recipe for failure. The games look similar, but are in reality entirely different in game play, odds, and even strategy.

While certain poker concepts are universal such as being able to identify player tendencies, most Hold'em concepts will lose you money in Omaha. 

Regardless of what many will have you believe, Omaha is not Texas Hold'em with four cards. It is its own game and should be learned as such.