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Pot-Limit Omaha - Board Texture Part One

by Michael Piper |  Published: May 01, 2010


Omaha CalculatorIn any flop game, the community cards provide information crucial to your play — your opponent’s actions tell you how strong his range of hands is, and will change depending on whether he’s flopped a draw, made hand, or both. Once you have an idea of his range, you need to work out how to play your own hand most profitably, which will change on different board textures. On a JClub Suit 9Club Suit 6Spade Suit board, top set is very vulnerable, as there are lots of draws available, so you should usually play it fast, charging the draws while preventing scare cards coming that might kill your action. On a KSpade Suit KClub Suit JSpade Suit board, kings full doesn’t have to dodge many turn or river cards to remain the nuts, so you can consider playing it more slowly and allow your opponent to catch up.

Dry Boards
When we talk about the dryness of boards, we’re referring to two things: how strong the nuts is right now, and how many turn or river cards change relative hand strength. The driest of flops is A-A-A because barring unlikely runner-runner cards, no turn or river changes your hand strength. Because you have to use two cards from your hand, no overcards can give your opponent a higher full house, if you’ve got one, and if he has a lower pocket pair than yours, he can’t improve even if he hits his two outer. On an A-A-K board you are in a similar position, only worried about protecting your hand if you have just trips. If you flop a flush, your equity will not change on any turns unless your opponent has two pair or a set, so this is a relatively dry board — most of the time, when you get action, it will be from other flushes.

Drawing Boards
People (correctly) love to play suited and connected cards in pot-limit Omaha. Especially in multiway pots, if there are draws on board, assume they’re out there somewhere. The most common draw is the straight draw, ranging from the lowly inside straight (four outs) to the mighty wrap (up to 20 outs). Without even considering flush draws, a set can be an underdog to a big wrap on the flop, and exactly evens on the turn. With a straight, against a wrap to a higher straight, you can’t redraw to a full house, so your equity is even worse.

When both straight and flush draws are available, be very careful drawing to the straight. Some of your outs might make your opponent a flush, and even when you hit, he can still suck out on you. Consider the strength of the hand you’re drawing to, as well as how many outs you have — when the board isn’t paired, you can usually pay to chase the nut-flush, but consider your implied odds against tough opponents who are unlikely to overplay lower flushes when they hit. The nut-flush draw is a powerful hand multiway, especially if you’ve got a good made hand or another nutty draw with it. And because bad players love to draw to non-nut hands, you will often get paid when it hits, and unless the board pairs, you will usually have outs on the turn.

Paired boards are interesting, in that they’re both draw-y and dry at the same time. Even with the nut full house on an A-A-T board, your opponent can have up to nine outs to beat you on the turn or river. However, if you have the A-T there are so few combinations of hands that can give you action on the flop that you can consider slow playing. If you have the under full house (T-T on the above board), you are more likely to be up against 10 outs twice, as undercards can give your opponent a house, so you should usually bet while you’re ahead. If there is a flush draw available, and you think your opponent will pay you off when it hits, but fold to a bet on the flop, consider checking both hands. Ideally, you’d like your opponent to pay to draw to a worse hand, so consider reads and your own table image.

After more then three years of looking up equities on, I’ve developed a strong, intuitive sense of where I stand against my opponents’ ranges in most spots. Because draws dominate and interfere, equities are counter-intuitive in pot-limit Omaha — it’s not uncommon for the nuts to be a significant underdog. If you want to be the guy winning the biggest pots, the most often, you should aim to understand why equities are the way they are. Can your opponent redraw on you if you hit, or will he be drawing dead? How often does your draw come in, and when it does, how often will it hold up? How well are you doing against your opponents’ range, rather than his specific hand? The best advice I can give you is to look equities up yourself. Spade Suit

Michael Piper has been playing pot-limit Omaha for a living both online and live for more than three years. He posts online under the screenname wazz, and coaches at and