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Omaha, like every form of poker, is bounded by mathematical parameters governing how often you make the hands you draw to. and how often your made hands will hold up against those drawing to bigger hands than yours. The certainty with which these theoretical mathematical expectancies — or probabilities — will occur depends on how long a view we take. During one session, you might make every draw and have a big win as a result. On another day the force might not be with you at all, while all your opponents get lucky and catch the cards they need to beat you on the river.
A Little Probability, Please
But over the long haul, the laws of probability tell us that your results ought to come pretty close to mirroring mathematical expectation. In other words, if you play properly, and make the right decisions, in Omaha — as in other forms of poker and in life itself — you figure to be rewarded in proportion to the quality of decisions and choices you make.
One of the major differences between Omaha and Texas hold’em is that more information is available to you in Omaha, and while that may make it a bit easier to reach a decision in a game of Omaha/8, the impact of a wrong decision is likely to be more costly. Because of the large number of possible hands to be formed from the five community cards and the four cards in each player’s hand, it’s critical to be able to size up how well your hand stacks up against hands your opponents might be playing.
If you’re chasing the low end of the pot with a deuce and a trey in your hand, don’t be shocked if one of your opponents shows up with ace-trey, and another with ace-deuce. After all, you were chasing with the third best possible low, not the best one, and that’s not the way to win at this game. Likewise, if you’ve made
the best possible flush but the board contains a pair, you shouldn’t be surprised to see one of your opponents turn up a full house, or even four-of-a-kind. While that happens in Texas hold’em. it doesn’t happen often enough to substantially diminish the value of a flush. Omaha is different. Better accept this right now: Once the board pairs in Omaha, your straight or flush is very likely to cost you money.
There’s no need for dismay, however, since a silver lining can be found in this dark cloud. That silver lining lies in knowing what your chances are of winning the pot, then manipulating the size of that pot by betting and raising accordingly. But you can’t do that without knowing at least a little something about your chances of succeeding. And that means — dare we say it? — knowing just a little about probability and statistics.