Winning Omaha/8 Poker

  • List Price: $24.95
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Date: December, 2003
  • Publisher: ConJelCo
  • ISBN: 1-886070-19-9
  • Order from Amazon.com

Omaha Poker has been called “the game of the future” by players and pundits alike.
Omaha arrived hard on the heels of its cousin, Texas hold’em, which in recent years has surpassed seven-card stud as the world’s most popular poker game. Omaha, for reasons we’ll get into later, offers more action and excitement for many players. That’s one of the factors that accounts for its rapid growth in popularity both as an anticipated staple of poker tournaments in the United States and Europe, and as a cash game played in most cardrooms and casinos.

Two forms of Omaha are commonly played. In America, the game of choice is generally Omaha hold’em, eight-or-better, high-low split, which we’ll mercifully abbreviate from this point forward as Omaha/8. It usually features four rounds of fixed betting limits, and the betting limits on the latter two betting rounds are generally twice that of the first two. Because it’s a split-pot game, the holder of the best high hand and the holder of the best low hand composed of five unpaired ranks of eight or lower (the best low hand is 5-4-3-2-ace) split the pot.

In Europe, Omaha is generally played high-only, and there’s usually just one winner, unless two players have the same high hand. When Omaha is played high only, the betting is generally pot-limit, although there is nothing inherent in the game that mandates pot-limit rather than fixed-limit betting – it’s just that in Europe, most poker is of the pot-limit variety.

Pot-limit poker can have exponential raising, since the rules allow you to match the wager of a bettor and then raise the total amount of money in the pot. So if there’s twenty dollars in the pot, and your opponent makes a pot-sized bet, you can match his twenty and raise the size of the pot. In other words, if there’s twenty dollars in the pot, and your opponent then bets twenty, you can make it – as we poker players like to say – “…eighty to go.” Your opponent can then call your raise. He can also raise you, and if he’s really confident about his hand, he might just make it $320 to go. As you can see, pot-limit raises get a lot of money into the pot in a hurry whenever two or more players have hands they like.

Since the late 1980s, poker has undergone a renaissance of sorts – a greening, if you will. Like bowling and billiards before it, poker has moved out from under the seedier sides of its roots and it’s flowering. In fact, it’s in full bloom! If you want to play poker in a clean, safe environment these days, you’re probably no more than a few hours’ drive from a public card casino. And if that’s too far, just sidle up to your computer and visit any of a number of online poker rooms, where you can play for real money right there in your jammies, from the comfort of your very own den.

If you visit a card room – either the brick and mortar variety or one that’s no more than a couple of mouse clicks away on your computer – you won’t find all of those bizarre home games you and your cronies have conjured up, but you will find a variety of seven-card stud, Texas hold’em, and Omaha games on tap. And you’ll find them at a variety of betting limits – there’s something for everyone – so you can play within your means and have fun. If you play with skill and discipline, you might win a little, or even a lot, if the fates are with you.

If you’ve never played poker before, or even if you’ve played a lot of poker – particularly Texas hold’em, which is a kissing cousin of Omaha – you might wonder why you need a book about it. Why can’t you just belly up to the table, plunk down your money, and give it a go?

After all, many players have learned in just that way. It’s called the school of hard knocks, and the tuition can be costly. Moreover, there’s no guarantee you’ll ever graduate. But you can learn to play Omaha quite well from this book, and when you go to the table and put your hard-earned money into play, you’ll have a greater knowledge base to draw on than you would if you simply flew by the seat of your pants with the hard knocks boys.

Poker’s growing popularity has paralleled that of personal computers. A substantial amount of research has been done in recent years and some of those old concepts they’re still teaching over at the school of hard knocks have been found wanting. As a consequence, players who don’t keep their knowledge up to date by using a computer might just find themselves left behind. With that in mind, we’ve included some basic information on how to go about it.

But first you need to understand the game. This book explains the basics of Omaha/8 and provides a sound strategic approach so you can learn to play well in the shortest amount of time possible. And you’ll be ahead of the pack by a country mile. When the table talk runs to poker books, you’ll find that many of your opponents have never so much as picked up a poker book. Many, in fact, will boast of it. Yes, they’re proud of their ignorance. Some of them disdain the new breed of computer literate, educated poker players.

While many self-taught players are remarkably skilled, most of them are not, and they’ve been making the same mistakes for years. And who’s going to tell them? Certainly not their more savvy opponents, who are quite happy, thank you, to convert other players’ ignorance into currency at the end of a poker session. After all, poker is a game of money played with cards, so if you find a leak in your opponent’s game, you should exploit it for all it’s worth. And why not? Don’t forget, he’ll be trying to do the same to you!

Awareness of a problem is the first step on the road to solving it, and until you’re aware of the mistakes you’re making at the poker table, you can’t correct them. If you’re new to Omaha/8, or even an experienced hand wanting to improve your skills, this book will provide a storehouse of knowledge and information that you can convert to useable know-how.

Although you’ve probably played some form of poker before deciding to take a shot at Omaha, we’re gonna take it from the top by assuming you’ve never played poker before – not seven-card stud, not Texas hold’em, and not Omaha – and that you may not even know the difference between a flush and a straight. We start with the basics, so you’re covered. Don’t worry about a thing.

Maybe you’ve been playing poker since the time you climbed out of the crib, but for some reason you usually lose. You know the rules, but knowing how to win has somehow eluded you. Don’t you worry either. This book will certainly help you. We present all the tips, strategies, tactics, and tricks you’ll need to walk away from the poker table with money in your pocket.

Even if you’re a real Omaha maven – an expert – you’ll still benefit from what we have to offer. Some of our suggestions may surprise you, some may simply reinforce knowledge you’ve already acquired, and you may even find a few gems you’ve never thought of before.

This book is a reference as well as a tutorial, and you can read it in any fashion you wish. There’s no need to read it from cover to cover to understand where we’re coming from. If you know all the rules but want to find out more about proper starting hands, or about whether or not to continue on with your hand after the flop, jump right in there and start reading. If you want to learn the basics and save the advanced stuff for later, start at the beginning and wait until you feel ready to tackle the more advanced concepts. But if you really want to flatter us, go ahead and read the book from cover to cover. We promise you an enjoyable ride.

How this Book is Organized

We’ve organized this book so that the discussion in each chapter is self-contained. Here’s what each part covers:

Part 1: How to Play the Game

This section covers the nuts and bolts of how to play the game. If you’ve never played poker before, or you’ve had some experience playing poker but are new to Omaha, this is the place to start. You’ll first learn hand rankings and how the mechanics of the game work. We’ll also cover the need for patience, the importance of playing only good starting hands, and some tips on how to play in a casino. Finally, we’ll mention points of poker etiquette you’ll want to bring to the table with you.

Part 2: Advanced Strategy

Playing Omaha and winning at it involves much more than the luck of the draw, though you wouldn’t know it by observing the way some of your opponents consistently play any four cards they’re dealt. Here’s where we dissect the game, showing you how to decide whether to play or fold your four starting cards, then how to play on the flop, then how to approach the last two betting rounds. You’ll learn when to defend your blinds, and when to save money for a better opportunity by folding. We devote special attention to aces, since they’re the most important cards in the game.

Part 3: Other Poker Skills

Poker is not played with cards alone, so knowing how to manage your cards is not the sole skill separating winners from also-rans. That’s true in Omaha, and in every other form of poker you can name. So if you want to become a winning player, there’s a bevy of skills you need to master. We teach you about bluffing, money management and record keeping, how to go about reading an opponent, playing poker online for play-money or real money, and we even show you where to go from here to learn more about poker. Finally, we provide some keys to success and some valuable tips to improve your Omaha game right now.

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