Omaha Poker Tournament Strategy – An Introduction

Winning in an online Omaha Poker Tournament involves making several strategy adjustments specific to this form of poker. Here we will go through the various stages of a pot limit Omaha tournament. Strategy for each stage will be outlined – along with links to help you find the best online Omaha tournaments available.

Your Overall Objective

A step back, to look at PLO tournament strategy from a wider perspective, first. Profitable tournament players ensure that they play to win – and not just to cash! The reason is simple, poker tournaments feature ‘top heavy’ payout structures. Reaching the final table just once will pay for 5 to 30 of the lowest cashes – winning just once will pay many times this amount. Profitable Omaha poker tournament strategy involves taking some calculated risk to ensure you make the bigger profits over time – even if this results in busting before the money on some occasions!

The Early Stages

The ‘deep’ stacks in relation to the blinds in the early stages give you the maximum flexibility in your play. What is more the amount of weaker players will never be higher, you are sure to have opponents who understand little of Omaha strategy at this stage – overplaying missed A-A-x-x hands for example or not understanding that their drawing hands may well be a strong post-flop favorite.
In the early stages you need to get involved in pots, preferably from late position and ideally with strong ‘implied-odds’ hands such as double suited medium rundowns. You will need to make it your objective to take chips from weaker opponents in order to stay ahead in the later stages… if you do not take the chips from weaker opponents then other experienced players will – and they are much harder to win from those opponents later in the game.

The Middle Stages

Once the blinds start to increase and you have lost 30% of the field already the game changes considerably. The pot-limit betting structure means that flat-calling raises, even in position, becomes less effective. If you miss the flop then the (probable) continuation bet from your opponent may leave you making a decision for your whole stack with little information on your opponent’s hand..
In the middle stages of a PLO tournament being the ‘last raiser’ is very important. This could mean opening with a pot sized bet from late position, or even coming over the top with a big re-raise after a raise and a call ahead. If you have a premium hand, aces, double suited kings, or a strong rundown then the ‘last raise’ will give you extra ways to win the pot.

The Bubble

Stack sizes are the key factor at the bubble in PLO tournament strategy. With a reasonable stack you again have the opportunity for the ‘last raise’ to put pressure on your shorter stacked opponents. Some players will tighten up considerably as the bubble approaches – make sure you open pots ahead of them to steal blinds as often as possible.

A big stack at the table may put repeated pressure on opponents by opening many pots. With a solid hand you may have the opportunity to find a positive expectation re-raise opportunity here. This is particularly the case where you have half or more of the chip count of the big stack – increasing your fold equity. Remember that a ‘thinking’ big stack is trying to steal blinds without too much risk… not get involved in a big pot with a vulnerable holding!

The Final Table

Here stack sizes are only part of the story – at the final table the payout structure, and more importantly your opponents reaction to the payout structure, dictate your Omaha tournament strategy. The presence of a ‘mini-stack’ will have a huge impact on the play of those with medium to small chip stacks – the latter will not want to bust out while there is a mini-stack still at the table. Take advantage of this by raising the medium stacks regularly when the mini-stack has already folded.

Suited high cards, big pairs and those all-important rundowns should be played strongly at the final table. You should also manage the pot size to ensure that you get to put in the last big raise (that still has fold equity). As with your objective for the tournament as a whole, sacrificing the occasional 8th or 9th place for a genuine shot at 1st will be the most profitable play over time.