Omaha 8 Poker Starting Hands

Omaha 8 poker is a game of winning both the high and low pots on the same hand or the high when no low is possible (called a scoop) and having a good hand with the opportunity to improve to a better hand (a redraw). This is why starting hand selection is so important.

Most of your starting hands should include hands that have the possibility to scoop and offer redraws. The most common hands have an ace because an ace can be used for a high hand and a low hand. Another important concept is having counterfeit protection.

If your only two low cards are A 2 and an Ace or 2 falls on the board, your hand loses much of its strength. By playing hands like A 2 3 K or even 2 3 4 6, you give yourself counterfeit protection.

One of the worst things that can happen is if you have A 2 and a made low hand and an Ace hits on the river to give the low to someone else.

One of the biggest mistakes that inexperienced Omaha 8 poker players make is playing too many hands. Just like effective holdem strategy, winning Omaha 8 poker players only play 20 to 25% of the time. However, especially at the lower limits, you will see 7 to 9 players seeing the flop often.

It is very important to not fall into the “well, everybody else is doing it” mindset. Because everyone works with four cards, you must often have the best possible hand to win. By playing too many hands you will find yourself making second and third best hands and losing money with them.

Unlike holdem, position is not one of the most important issues in selecting your starting hands in Omaha 8 poker. That is not to say that it is of no importance. It is still better to act last because of the added information available to you.

The reason it is not as important as in holdem is because, as mentioned above, you often need the best possible hand to win, and after seeing the flop you will have a good idea of the chances of it happening as well as often having the correct pot odds to draw to it if you need to.

In holdem you only start with two cards so you have only one combination of two cards. In Omaha you start with four cards that create six unique two-card combinations. The best starting hands have all four cards working together. Hands that have three cards working together and one that doesn't (a dangler) are much weaker than ones with all four working in conjunction

Here is some specific advice about your starting hand selections. As you are learning to play Omaha 8 poker, I suggest only using the following hands. An x denotes any card of any rank. A w denotes a wheel card (2, 3, 4 or 5). A t denotes a trump plus the ten (T, J, Q, K):

    1. A 2 x x
    2. A 3 x x If the ace is suited to one of your other cards.
    3. A w w x As long as the two wheel cards are not the same)
    4. w w w w Four wheel cards, even if you have one pair, but not if you hold two pair or trips.
    5. A t t t An ace with three high cards, especially if the ace is suited, is a strong high hand.
    6. t t t t Four high cards, even with a pair or two pair.

The above guidelines are meant to be used while you are learning the game. As you gain experience and learn your opponents playing styles and hand selection, you will be able to play a few more starting hands. Hands with an A, 3 and two high cards are often playable as well as hands containing an ace suited to one other card that offer straight possibilities and some low potential like Ah 4h 6c 8s.