An Introduction To Short Stack Omaha Strategy

Short Stacking Will Win You Many Pots – But Little Respect From Fellow Omaha Players. Here We Introduce The Basics Of Short-Stacked PLO Strategy.

Many of the characteristics of Pot-Limit Omaha make this game particularly suited to short stack play. This involves buying in for the minimum amount and exploiting some of the plays that deep-stacked opponents will make when (correctly) playing pots with other deep stacks. While this system is undoubtedly profitable when used correctly the circumstances must be exactly right for you to make money. While an adapted short-stacking system was made famous by pro Omaha player Rolf Slotboom – the system we describe here will in fact be a simplified version.

First a friendly warning!!

Short-stacking Omaha games, when executed correctly, will make you a lot of money. The one thing it will not win you is any respect at the tables! The reason is simple, deep stacked players have little defense against a thinking short-stacker and find the system hinders their own strategy… if you want to make money short-stacking PLO games then read on!

The idea behind omaha short stacking is deceptively simple. You buy-in to a full ring game for the minimum possible amount. You fold all but the very best starting hands. When you get a premium starting hand such as aces you limp into the pot and wait for the deep stacks to raise, you then re-raise all-in (or close to it). Trapping ‘dead money’ from those players who have called in the pot with a strong likelihood of having the best hand.

Short-stacking works for 2 main reasons. Firstly it is important to realize that deeper stacks will be raising, re-raising and calling raises with a wide variety of hands. This enables them to play good, strategic post-flop poker in an attempt to win the whole stack of an opponent. Thus when a deep stack raises and gets called you do not need to assume that they have a premium starting hand – your aces (or double suited Kings / rundown hands etc) will have an excellent chance of winning in a showdown.

End Of 2011 Update: Short-Stacking Omaha has become harder at some of the biggest sites – who have introduced 40 Big Blind minimums on many tables (there are special ‘shallow’ tables, though everyone is short on these!). You can still make some cash, though you need to find those sites which allow 20 blind buy-ins on full tables. We highlight 3 great candidates for this at the end of our Short-Stacking Part #2 article.

Secondly, the deep stacks who call your all-in bet will not necessarily check the hand down. There is likely to be more betting – often big bets – on the flop, turn and river betting round. It is thus highly likely that a hand that would have beaten you at showdown will fold to subsequent bets. This is known as ‘protection’ – the big stacks betting protecting your hand from having to show-down against 2 or 3 opponents.

Let us look at a mathematical example. After buying in for the minimum of $20 at a 50c / $ 1 table, you are dealt A-A-J-10 with one suited ace in early position. You limp and see a mid-position player raise the pot (to $2.25c) 3 more players call this bet including the blinds. When the action returns to you there is $9.50 in the pot – allowing you to come in with a pot-size re-raise for around $12 – meaning you get more than 60% of your stack into the pot pre-flop.

Your intention here is to get the rest of your money in regardless of the flop. Many good things can now happen. If your raise is called then you have potentially trapped the ‘dead money’ of those players who fold in the pot. If you are called in more than one place then you only need to win the pot 30% of the time to show a profit. Once the flop comes the protection from the big-stacks will kick-in, pot-size raises will now be large enough to get a number of hands to fold. You may end up showing down against just one player will odds from the pot between 2/1 and 3/1. With a hand that will win more than half of the time this is a huge and very profitable edge.

In part 2 of our series on short-stacking strategy we look at vital ways to keep your online short-stack Omaha profitable including tips on how to find the games where this strategy brings in the most money. Check out Short Stacking Part 2 now!