Killer Cards In PLO

‘Killer Cards’ in Omaha Poker refer to those ‘outs’ which improve your hand to leave someone drawing against you chasing shadows, or re-draw against an opponent who has already hit their hand – for example rivering a full house to beat the turned nut-flush. Understanding and using Omaha Kill Card math is as simple as counting the number of outs correctly using some straight forward Omaha Poker principles.Once the concept behind killer cards is clear you will quickly be able to put this to a profitable use at the tables.

Memorizing every combination of hand match-ups and killer outs is possible, though it is not practical at the tables. The reason for this is simple – you do not know your opponent’s exact hand. What an Omaha poker killer cards chart can show you is this:

Your Chances Of Making Your Hand And The Chances Of Winning The Hand Are Not The Same…

The most common example is where you have a set (trips) against someone with a straight and flush draw combination. Here a player with a wrap straight plus flush draw is favorite to win if all the money goes in on the flop. However, even if the drawing player makes their hand, a pair on board would give you a winning full house. This is the definition of an Omaha poker ‘kill-card’ – a re-draw, either on the turn (leaving your opponent already drawing dead) or on the river to redraw.

Using readily available odds calculator software it is possible to work out what your ‘killer cards’ are worth (in terms of equity) in various scenarios. The terms and original calculations for Omaha Killer Cards was introduced by Lyle Berman in the ‘Pot-Limit Omaha High’ chapter of Super-System. Credit to Lyle Berman for this pioneering work into Omaha poker probability– especially as he only had access to a simple hand-held calculator at the time!

Below is a list of common Omaha Killer Card scenarios. Using the logic already mentioned trips would have 7 outs on the turn (1 remaining of your set + 3 of each of the other cards showing on the board) and 10 outs on the river (assuming the turn did not pair the board already there are now 3 additional outs which pair the turn card). This changes depending on many factors – including Kill Cards which you may hold yourself (rendering them useless!).

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Simple Omaha Poker Kill Cards Examples:

Example 1: Set vs Combination Flush and Wrap Straight Draw

You have A-A-K-K of 4 different suits against and opponent with 4-5-8-9 double suited.

» Pre-Flop Match-Up:

A-A-K-K (Unsuited): 55.86%
4-5-8-9 (Double Suited) 44.14%

The flop comes down a seemingly favorable K-6-7 with 2 spades (which match opponent’s cards for a low flush draw). Here you have top set but are against a monster draw… with any 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10 or Spade* putting your opponent ahead in the hand.

*Remember not to double count the spade straight outs or count those spades which pair the board.

» Post Flop Match-Up:

Flop: Ks-6s-7h

A-A-K-K (Unsuited) 42.07%
4-5-8s-9s (Double Suited) 57.93%

As expected the draw takes the lead on this flop. However, your A-A-K-K still has outs, and all of these will win the hand for you (your opponent has no redraws against a full house or better). The last remaining King gives you quads and the 3 remaining 6’s and 3 remaining 7’s give you top full house.

In our example, however, the turn brings a flush card for your opponent, in this case the Jack of spades.

» Hand Match-Up After The Turn:

Board: Ks-6s-7h-Js

A-A-K-K (Unsuited) 25%
4-5-8-9 (Double Suited) 75%

Even against a made flush on the turn A-A-K-K (with top set) will still win a healthy 25% of the time. There are now 10 killer cards to consider. The last King or course still gives quads, the 3 remaining 6’s and 7’s give you a full house and now there are 3 remaining Jacks unaccounted for which may also pair the river – giving you a full house.

Example 2: Top Two Pair vs Flopped Straight

Top 2 pair is a tricky hand in Omaha Poker, it may be the best at the current moment, but can be vulnerable to a whole raft of draws and re-draws. With top 2 pairs you will usually have killer outs (to the nut full house). With top and bottom, or even bottom 2 pair your outs may not be ‘killer’ at all – giving an opponent a higher full house. This example looks at the killer cards for top two pair against a flopped straight with no further drawing possibilities on either side.

» Pre-Flop Match-Up:
K-J-4-4 (unsuited) 43.6%
9-10-Q-A (unsuited) 56.4%

The flop now comes down K-J-9, there are no flush draws possible- so we now have a made straight against top 2 pairs. Here the straight takes a significant lead, with the exception of running 4’s (or 9’s / unlikely 4-9 combo) the only killer outs for the top 2 pairs hand are the 2 remaining Kings and 2 remaining Jacks.

» Post-flop Match-Up:

Flop: K-J-9

K-J-4-4 (unsuited) 19.4%
9-10-Q-A (unsuited) 80.6%

With the exception of hitting a King or Jack on the turn the only helpful cards are 4’s and 9’s – both of which would add a small number outs for the river. In this example the turn comes a blank – the 3 of hearts.

» Hand Match-Up After The Turn:

Board: K-J-9-3 (4 suits)

K-J-4-4 (unsuited) 10%
9-10-Q-A (unsuited) 90%

As expected with just a single card to come the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of the straight. 4 kill cards remain, the last 2 kings and 2 jacks.

While this look into Killer Cards in Omaha Poker will have shown why making your draw and winning the hand are 2 different things – the actual situation will vary from hand to hand and from opponent to opponent.

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