Everything you need to know about omaha 8 poker!
General Principles for Good Shorthanded Play
- A rough rule to keep in mind is play shorthanded as if you're playing a full-ring game but the first 4 people at the table folded.
- You don't need to nuts anymore to win, especially for high. With fewer people there is less chance the nuts is out there. However, you still need a strong hand, as almost half the deck will be in play.
- You need to play more against the player than before. You'll be in more pots against the same people, so understanding their tendencies and hand reading becomes more important. And judgment becomes more important.
- You need to play a little bit looser. If a good VPIP at a full table is about 20-22, then shorthanded its about 28-30. So patience and nut-peddling are less important.
- You need to play significantly more aggressively. So you need to be willing to gamble a bit more.
- You need to recognize that the variance will be higher than at a full-table. So you must be able to withstand swings.
- Your earn rate can be higher than full-ring. With more judgment and hand reading required, and even less data available on the value of different hands, a good player can have an even bigger edge.
- If you are going to enter an un-raised pot, come in for a raise. Never call.
- If you get heads up, you need to have scooping chances to continue. This is because you and your opponent will likely be betting a bunch, and if you are only going 1-way then the most you can win is the amount already in the pot, which will be tiny in comparison to what will be bet on flop/turn/river.
- You need to be able to accurately assess how hand values change, both pre-flop and post-flop. Since this is pretty critical, I'll expand on it.
How hand values change:
- The fewer the players, the closer hands run in value. So if its folded to the small blind and he raises your big blind, its correct to call with many hands (~60%) or so.
- Weak to moderate made hands become more powerful. Hands like KK47 preflop or bottom two pair on the flop.
- Hands that hit rarely but are powerful when they hit are very strong in full-ring games (A2, nutflush, etc). But they are relatively less valuable in shorthanded play since they don't hit as often and there are fewer people to pay you off. So A2s is still a great starting couple, but its relative value vs. say having Q24s is less. Basically, weaker hands close the gap to the stronger hands.
- The opposite of that last point is that hands that hit rarely but are moderate in strength becomes significantly stronger, since the more powerful hands are out less often. So hands like T-hi flush, 3rd-nut straight, bottom full-house become much stronger.
- High-oriented hands increase in value. This is because in a full ring game, if the board is 2469T, then someone is very likely to have a low. But shorthanded, the chances someone was counterfeited are significantly higher.
- Low only hands decrease in value. Hands like A234 and A246 are strong in ring games because they make lows and straights. But lows/straights are relatively rare, which is fine in ring games because you have many people in to pay you off when you hit. But in short-handed play, you need hands that will hit more often and for that you are willing to trade off a little strength. Practically, this means hands like two pair and sets will be worth more. And that means having high cards. So a hand like A25J becomes significantly stronger than A234 because it has better high potential.
- Promo-Raises become more important. If you are up against just one opponent who has you in trouble, then he's usually using 2 of those cards to hurt you and thus has only 2 cards left to hurt you the other direction - net, just one 2-card couple can hurt you in the other direction. But if you are up against two opponents, then the other guy has all 4 cards or 6 2-card couplings to hurt you. That's 7x more power against you. Of course, it's a bit more complicated than that due to flushes - which is one reason why being suited becomes more important. But hopefully you get the idea that going from 1 to 2 opponents makes it exponentially (not 2x) more likely that you can be scooped.
- Everyone knows the very good hands to play in full ring games (AA, A2, A3, 4 high cards). But the next grouping of hands that comes after that is less well known. Here they are, and these are some specific hands to loosen up with:
- KKxx, particularly if xx are any low cards
- A5 plus something (suited, straight possibilities, high cards)
- QQxx plus something
- 345x plus something
- Pairs with low cards (ie. 2466, 3588)
- And here are some hands that are worse than they look. These should be avoided. (H=T,J,Q,K ; W=2,3,4,5 ; M=6,7,8,9
- 3 High cards with a low card, even if suited (ie. KQJ3)
- Pairs 22-JJ with higher cards (ie. 44TJ, 99TK)
- Pairs 22-JJ with split cards (ie. 366Q, 5JJQ)
- Split pairs 22-JJ (ie. 5599)
- And of course any trips or quads (KKK9, 4444)