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How to bluff in Omaha

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"There's no way to bluff in Omaha" was the text that flashed across the chat window on Full Tilt Poker.

This was the parting shot from a player sent to the rail playing 2/4 NL Omaha H/L when he tried to bluff from early position on a board of 4d 5d Qd. There were many holes in not only his game but also his going-away words of wisdom.

No way to bluff in Omaha?

If you ever see a player talking about this, immediately sit at that table and take all his money. A common misconception among many players is that you can't bluff at Omaha poker.

To understand why this is prevailing logic among so many players, let's take a look at the basics of playing Omaha:

  • In Omaha, you're dealt four hole cards
  • From there, the flop, turn, and river are identical to hold'em
  • Betting is the same as Texas Hold'em
  • You must play two of your hold cards in Omaha, as opposed to zero, one or two in Texas hold'em

Because of the vast number of possible hands that can connect on the flop, people tend to think that bluffing is of little value in the game of Omaha.

While this may look true on paper, it's not always the case in real world applications. In fact, the fundamentals of bluffing at Omaha carry over to Hold'em. There are small tweaks you must make to your bluffing game here but once you've got a grasp of the basics of Omaha and the rough percentages down, you're all set.

Scary Flops In Omaha & Leveraging Your Position To Bluff

Let's assume you're playing 10/20 Omaha hi-lo shorthanded, the action is folded to you on the button and you make a standard raise to steal the blinds. The SB and BB both call you and they've shown themselves to be pretty loose/aggressive players so far. You're holding rags here, 4s 2d Tc 8h and the flop brings Kd Ks 9d.

Since you're the button here, you have the benefit of acting last. The SB and BB both check to you and of course, you fire out a bet here.

You have no drawing hand here so why bluff now?

Because, if for no other reason you're going to find out in a hurry what your opponents are holding.

If either one of them are holding an Ace with a few rags, they're folding. Most blinds will defend in Omaha hi-lo if they're holding Ace rag because they figure if they hit the Ace they're in ok shape. If they catch the low draw, they have even more options with the Ace over card. If one of them lucks out and catches their 9, so what? In their mind, you could very likely be holding a King and a few rag cards. You may big slick for that matter, you did raise after all.

The same logic applies if they're holding a big pocket pair like Jacks or even Queens. You can be almost certain that's not the case here, though. Why? Because in Omaha very few players will smooth call a button raise with a big over-pair like Queens. So let's rewind and look at the flop again: Kd Ks 9d

Their low draw with their ragged Ace has no chance of completing. If they chase to try and hit their ragged Ace, so what? They could be dominated by your King rag! Without fail, if you have sent the right message by your play, their cards are headed for the muck and you just took down a pot by bluffing in Omaha.

What to do if they call or raise?

The answer here is simple, you have to give them credit for a hand or a big draw (diamonds). Of course, you could represent the full house here but proceed with caution. If one or both of your opponents fire back at you, it's time to give up and live to fight another fight.

Using This Bluffing Tactic In Omaha High

The same logic applies here as above.

Other than the low draw, their weak Ace just lost its luster on that flop. So what if they hit their Ace at this point? If you're dominated, why spend another dime to see it on the turn? At best, they're (in their mind) going to lose more money by chasing this hand.

This is almost always a well-timed bluff, regardless of the variant of Omaha that you're playing.

It's important to remember here however, that no one has a crystal ball and not all bluffs are timed perfectly. If an opponent raises you here, you have to use your gut and your read to either re-raise or just let the hand go.

One of the online poker rooms with the largest selection of Omaha Hi and Omaha Hi/Lo games is Full Tilt Poker, so why not paying them a visit and try your skill at bluffing in omaha?

And there are big bluffs in Full Tilt's Omaha games. Just ask Phil Ivey.

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