Actually I was speaking of bet/raise or fold on the flop. I have been learning alot about Omaha using this principal. Unfortunately, becoming less passive has shown me how little I actually know about this game. I’m down to 20BB/100 after 2,000 hands. I expect to regain a higher win rate after learning more……(famous last words)
I will speak on preflop raising though. I too have read conflicting theories on this. I’m starting to believe that if I’m going to play a big pot game, I should start building the pot right away with my better hands and force people to put money in when they are behind. If I hit the flop hard, I have a pot big enough to do something with. If I miss, the pot is still large enough to discourage most draws with a pot size semi-bluff. I won’t bluff with nada….
Quote from my favorite Omaha mystery site:
“Myth: “Omaha Starting Hands Run Close Together in Value”
This is the silliest myth of all, especially when it comes to real game conditions. The root of this myth comes from the fact that head-up Omaha hands seldom have a dominating relationship in the same way that AA dominates A7 in Holdem. The head-up phenomenon means that you should liberally defend your big blind against a single raiser when you have any sort of reasonable hand. You will be getting correct pot equity to do so.
This head-up concept though has transmuted into the bizarre myth that Omaha starting hands run close together in value. It’s complete nonsense. Readers can run simulations, observe games or do whatever other study they want to “prove” this, but A23K is just a helluva lot better than J965. It will scoop more often, get a share of the pot much more often, it will be more “bettable” and win bigger pots because it makes the nuts more often and easier, etc.
The mass of Omaha hands are like J965 — random crap. The good and great Omaha hands stand head-and-shoulders above the random crap. They scoop more, split more, are more bettable, and make less “second best” losers. In Holdem, AA stands way above the other hands. KK, QQ and AK are not in AA’s league, but they also aren’t in the league of the rest of the hands either. Omaha has no equivalent of AA but there is a larger group of hands similar to KK-QQ-AK. And then there are also more hands in the same league with AQ-JJ-TT-AJ. Then there is a big drop off, because Omaha does not have the equivalent of 99 or KJ. There are excellent Omaha hands, good ones, a few speculative ones, and then there is garbage that is greatly inferior to the good hands.
This myth is silly enough on its own, but it begets another myth that leads to (thankfully) disastrous play on the part of lots and lots of mediocre players — they don’t raise before the flop.
Myth: “Don’t raise before the flop”
In most Omaha games a critical and basic concept is to get more money in before the flop when you have way the best of it. The most obvious profit in Omaha comes from opponents calling on the turn when drawing dead. This happens reasonably often but the profit that occurs every single hand, the most common way to create a profitable edge is to exploit the dramatically different pre-flop value of Omaha starting hands. Most Omaha games feature players who play too many garbage hands 789T, 23QJ and even J965. In many games, these mistakes occur before the flop all the time. This is where the money is to be made. Since the opportunities arise almost every hand, this is where you increase your profits hugely in Omaha.
Interestingly, many mediocre players who do understand Omaha is about starting hands don’t “get” that starting hands only exist before the flop. They passively limp and “wait to see the flop.” If a huge part of Omaha is starting hands, then aggressively betting your hands before the flop should be an obvious conclusion.
Of course, raising with a hand you want to raise with is not always the best choice. A234 first to act is just about the worst hand to raise with. You certainly wish you could raise a bunch of people playing random junk, but you can’t. You are first. The best choice available is to limp and invite everybody you can possibly get into the hand — and hopefully get a raise from another player. The principle here is that you want to raise, but often you are unable to. You want to play A234 for two (or more) bets against 789T, 23QJ and J965, but if raising causes all of them to muck and have you end up playing head-up against AQ65, you screwed up badly.
The peculiar combination of thinking hands run close in value and not raising before the flop encourages the notion that all pre-flop raising does is increase bankroll swings. Let’s look at how foolish that notion is in itself.
For the sake of simplicity, ignore split pots for a moment and let’s say we have a situation where our hand and the big blind run close together in value and we each win half the time. If this is the situation pre-flop… why would you ever play a hand in a raked game? You and the big blind hand will just lose out to the rake in the long run. Simply calling the big blind would make no sense if hands indeed ran close together in value.
But the myth-makers might say, if you have position on the big blind, after the flop when the hands are more fully defined you will be able to extract value from the player in the blind. Obviously there is no downside to pre-flop raising if this is true. Put another way, how would you like to play in a game where when you are out of position you put in $10, but when your opponent is out of position you put in $20? If you have a positional edge after the flop then making the pre-flop betting essentially a double-sized “ante” is very much favorable to you.
But even that isn’t the end of it. Suppose you have basically a coin-flip situation against the big blind. What is better, giving him infinite odds by calling (that is, he already has money in the pot via a forced bet, and he gets to continue playing for free while you have to place a bet), or raising so that he has to put another betting unit into the pot — where he at least has an option to fold?
Think about that. Suppose we have a literal 50/50 confrontation, but the big blind doesn’t know that. It would be frankly idiotic to call the blind and flip a coin for the total amount. That would be nothing but deliberately creating pointless bankroll fluctuation. Instead, if you raise, the big blind player will fold some amount of the time greater than zero — even if by accident! Even if the big blind only folds once out of 100 times, that is better than merely flipping a coin 100 times.
Much of winning poker involves exploiting small advantages repeatedly. If someone offers to flip a silver dollar with you 100 times, taking him up on it would be pointless gambling. But if the person walked up to you and handed you a dollar for you to put in your pocket at the start, it would be foolish not to go ahead and then flip 100 times. And if instead of 100-1 our reward was more like 10-1 or even 3-1, the more clearly obvious the sense of the wager becomes.
If hands truly did run close in value, then the blinds would become almost the whole game. Getting more than your share of equity in the blinds would be the road to victory, so clearly a key tactic would be to raise before the flop, so as to get the players in the blinds to fold any amount of time greater than zero.
But the basic myth clearly isn’t true. As2s3dKd is a dramatically better hand than Jh9d7s5c. It makes no sense at all to let J975 have a free flop when you have a playable hand. Either charge them to see the flop, or let them fold and you take (or share) their blind equity. Either way is better than giving them a complete freeroll, since their blind is already in the pot. Omaha HiLo has some drive-the-betting type hands, and it has hands that often lead to a player being trapped in pots, trying to protect equity invested in a previous betting round (like the above two hands on a 8s7d4c flop). If you don’t make use of one, and focus on punishing the other, you won’t be a very successful Omaha player.”