One of our major books for summer publication will be Mastering Mixed Games by David Macklin. Mixed games comprise all the weird and wonderful poker variants such as Omaha 8, Stud, Triple Draw, 2-7 lowball etc. Analysing and playing these fascinating games can make a refreshing change from endless NL hold’em.
Since they are nevertheless poker games many of the concepts already familiar from hold’em apply to these variants but the unusual structure of the games means that these concepts must be adjusted. Here is how David Macklin introduces the theme of hand selection in Omaha 8 and also warns against the typical recreational player sin of playing too loose.
Starting Hands in Omaha 8
In Omaha you cannot really have a starting hand chart, there are simply too many hands and you do not want to attempt to memorize a rubric. Rather, each hand has a general point value and you need to make an assessment about the hands value based on a few factors. Coordination – A-3-4-5 ds (double suited) is going usually be a better hand than A-2-9-8 r (rainbow). This is because the entire hand works very well together and so that makes up for the fact that A-2 is going to be a better low hand. However, is A-2-6-9 ds better than A-3-4-5 ds? Perhaps, but it doesn’t matter. It is more about playing hands that work well together and seeing how this co-ordination affects hand values. This extends to the side cards. A-2-K is going to be better than A-2-Q but the fourth card will also make a difference. This is all to demonstrate that the hands generally fall into categories and cannot really be listed.
So, the guidelines below are approximate. This also means that you basically figure out how to play an example hand from the group and then play all the hands like that. For example, A-2-3-5 and A-2-4-6 will play the same way and A-2-K-Q and A-A-2-10 will play the same way.
Early Position – Open raise
A-A with a wheel card.
A-A with two Broadway cards
A-2 with two Broadway cards
A-3 with a suit and with two Broadway cards.
K-K and Q-Q ds with two wheel cards
Open raise or open limp
K-K-J-10, K-K-Q-J, Q-Q-J-J, Q-Q-J-10 etc.
Playing too loose
There is a lot of slippery slope play in Omaha 8. Because you get four cards and the values are so similar it is easy to slowly start to play loose and inch by inch begin to play too loose preflop and then peel too loose on the flop. In hold’em you will never look down at 9-5o and think it is a good hand but in Omaha 8 it is much easier to think a garbage hand is good. For example, you have been playing for 10 hours, you’re a little tired and you play K-Q-2-3 double suited from early position. This is not the end of the world, in some games you may even be able to justify the play. But, you know this is not that game and you are making a mistake. The flop is 4-5-10 and you say “hey, I have a wheel draw.” You know full well that there are probably not many aces left in the deck but you call the flop. The turn is a 6 and now you have a straight. However, it is still very easy to get none of the pot and slowly, little by little, you are playing worse and worse. But, how did you get there? One inch at a time. In hold’em it is much more obvious when you are playing very loose and making second-best hands. This is less clear in Omaha 8 and you can get there by degrees. Keep it in mind.
If you enjoy the full article and think this book is for you then pre-order now and the book or ebook will be sent to you as soon as it publishes: Mastering Mixed Games