The premium starting hands are a small select group of hands which you should play on all occasions and against all opponents. To a much greater extent than in Hold’em, you will need to re-evaluate how strong your hand is post flop, but each of the hands below will have a lot of equity pre flop. Note that all of these hands are stronger when they are suited or preferably double suited.
So which are the premium Omaha 8 starting hands?
Top of the range: A-A-2-3: This is the strongest Omaha 8 hand of all. You will be favourite both in a small or a large field and you should play this hand for a raise on all occasions, even when in the blinds.
The strong low pair of aces: A-A-2-x: One step down, but still a very strong two way hand, which is comfortable in both heads up and multi way pots. Its value increases when it is suited, or when the ‘x’ is another wheel card. Again, play this for a raise on all occasions.
The strong low hand: A-2-3-x: This hand likes a big field, as it is a strong drawing hand. I would generally still raise with this – and always raise in a six max game where the blinds come round quickly. The one exception where you may limp or call is in early position, when playing full ring. Should you be lucky enough to hold A-2-3-w then you will have the ultimate in counterfeit protection. A-2-3-6 or A-2-4-6 also have great potential, as they can make a wheel and a six high straight. Helmuth comments that A-2-3-x will win a piece of the pot more than 40% of the time.
The strong low hand searching for a deuce: A-3-4-5; A-3-4-6. This hand offers good counterfeit protection and also wheel potential. In a multi way pot you are looking for a deuce to flop. If you flop the second nut low you will need to be careful.
The strong two way hand: A-2-b-b: You will be dealt a hand containing A-2 approximately one hand in every 14. However strong two way A-2 hands are much rarer. Examples include A-2-K-K, A-2-K-Q and A-2-Q-Q. These hands have both high and low potential. The decision to raise or call will depend on position, the action before you, and the players to follow you. Picking up the blinds is never a bad result but you should also be happy seeing a multi way flop, where you should have a decent chance of scooping.
The strong two way hand searching for a deuce: A-3-b-b: Another good two way hand, although one step down from our previous example. This is still a hand to play on all occasions.
Aces with a wheel card: A-A-w-x: This is a good starting hand, although if the wheel card is a four or five you may prefer to see the flop heads up as the low is not very strong. For that reason, this is often a hand to raise with pre flop.
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This page is an extract from Omaha 8 or Better: Winning at Hi Low Poker by Andy Mack