The Worst Starting Hands in Omaha

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a person checking their playing cards of four of a kind two’s on a black surface
BetMGM Apr 18, 2024, 3:12 AM

If you’re looking to play poker online, Omaha is one of the most fun games to try. Most players move across from the Texas hold’em tables, as there’s a lot of overlap in the rules. However, there is one fundamental difference that greatly affects your basic strategy, including starting hand selection.

Read on to discover the worst possible Omaha poker hands. Whether you’re in a live cash game or an online poker tournament, you’ll want to throw these hands straight to the muck.

Omaha Basics

There are many different types of poker, with all sorts of weird and wonderful rules. But Omaha is a good one for Texas Hold’em players to transition to since the structure is essentially the same. 

For instance, there is a preflop betting round, followed by three more on the flop, turn, and river. Two players add blinds before every round, the Omaha hand rankings are identical, and the aim is still to make the best five-card hand. 

However, the key difference with Omaha is the number of cards dealt. Each player receives four cards, and they must use exactly two, plus three community cards, to form their hand.

Hand Combinations

One of the first and most important Omaha poker tips to learn is that the additional cards wildly alter the game’s strategy. And this all begins with your starting hand selection. 

In hold’em, there are just 169 potential opening hands. But with four cards to play with, there’s a whopping 16,432 starting hand permutations in a regular game of Omaha.

With that many possible holdings, there’s not a lot of point listing off every single bad Omaha starting hand. Instead, it makes more sense to group them into categories and explain why each group is so undesirable. 

Hand Combinations

The key thing about Omaha is that you’re never as far in front as you think you are. In hold’em, the pocket aces hand is almost a 90% favorite against a more powerful one, like ace-king suited. It crushes other pocket pairs, and hands like suited connectors, around 80% of the time. 

But in Omaha, even the absolute best starting hands are rarely more than 70% favorites. That comes down to the fact that additional cards give you more possibilities with which to make hands and win a pot. 

As such, the very best starting hands are those with the most potential. It’s not necessarily about their current strength.

Omaha Hands To Avoid

This post is about the worst hands, not the best hands. But the two are intrinsically linked. After all, the features that make a hand good are obviously going to be absent in a bad one.

The best hands maximize drawing potential. That means you’re looking for double-suited hands so you can draw to two different flushes. Connected cards give you straight draws, while premium pocket pairs allow you to make the best possible sets and full houses. 

Ace-ace-king-king and ace-ace-jack-10 double-suited are the best Omaha hands to start with. So, flip this logic on its head, and you’ll see the worst hands are those that lack connectivity. The fewer combinations you possess, the worse the hand is. 

Here are the worst starting hands you can have in Omaha.

Four of a Kind

You’ll have noticed that both of the best hands in Omaha contain pocket aces. So why isn’t quad aces the stone-cold nuts in terms of starting hands? It’s important to remember that you can only use two of your four starting cards. 

Yes, you have the best possible pocket pair to start with, but your own outs are already dead, as they’re sitting idle in your hand. You can’t use them to make quads, full houses, or even a set.

No problem, just draw to the nut flush? Again, you must use two cards from your hand. Even if four of one suit hit the board, you still won’t have a flush. You don’t actually have any draws at all if your starting hand is four of a kind. No straights, no flushes, and the best hand you can make is two pair.

Four of a kind is undoubtedly the worst starting hand in Omaha. Since deuces are the lowest value card, 2-2-2-2 is literally the least desirable of all.

Three of a Kind

This is obviously not quite as terrible as four of a kind, but it should hit the muck almost 100% of the time. 

Three aces with something like a suited king or queen would give you the nut flush draw and some possibility of making top set and the nut full house. In truth though, this is clutching at straws. It’s never a great idea to draw to so few outs. Omaha starting hand selection is all about trying to maximize your possibilities.

More Than Two Suited Cards

Having four to a flush in your hand might look nice, but it’s pretty useless. Your flush outs immediately fall from 11 to just nine, making it far harder to hit your draw. What’s more, four suited cards mean there’s no possibility of you having a pair. This rules out sets, full houses, and quads postflop.

Even three of one suit isn’t much of an improvement. Yes, you can potentially make a pair, plus you’ll have the extra out. But in a game of such fine margins, you can’t afford to risk giving your opponents any kind of an advantage.

All Different Suits

A rainbow hand, containing four different suits, means you cannot make a flush. Once again, the best hands are as connected as possible, so whenever you play a hand that has reduced connectivity, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

Don’t write this type of hand off immediately, though. Something like ace-ace-jack-10 still offers some strong drawing potential and could have a place in a certain type of game. But always remember the key principle is to find hands that are as connected as possible.

Middling Cards

The last group of terrible hands is those made up solely of medium-value cards. Something like 10-9-8-7 offers a lot of straight potential, and, if it’s double-suited, you could also make flushes and even straight flushes. 

However, imagine a flop like king-queen-jack where there’s a lot of action. Can you really feel good about your king-high straight here? Ace-10 seems likely before you even consider flush possibilities. Even top two pair would have plenty of outs to beat you.

When unsuited, this type of hand should be folded immediately, 100% of the time. The best you can ever hope to hit is a middling straight that can land you in all sorts of bother.

Enjoy Omaha Poker at BetMGM

Starting hand selection is crucial in any form of poker. But, as you’ve seen in this guide, it’s perhaps more important in Omaha than any other game. Even if you’re holding an absolute monster, your opponent will never be quite as far behind as it might seem.

Work on your Omaha starting hand selection today by joining BetMGM. Register an account to access dozens of daily tournaments, plus cash games at a wide variety of stakes.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.