Bluffing in Omaha Poker
written by: John
Because of the fact that Omaha is played using 4 hole cards which can create tons of draws on the flop and turn, many players feel that it is virtually impossible to run a bluff successfully.
While I would agree that it is going to be quite difficult to run a bluff in Omaha, I think it is important not to rule it as 'impossible' and just not ever attempt it. This is because I feel that the more strategies you have in arsenal, the more options you have when faced with certain situations.
So what I have done below is explain some of the important factors that players should keep in mind when not only bluffing in Omaha, but bluffing in poker in general.
Steps to Bluffing in Omaha Poker
The first thing that I feel a player should consider before attempting a bluff is the table image of himself and most importantly, his tablemates.
Starting with the player himself it is really important for that player to ask him or herself, "How have I been acting at the table lately?" How a player has been acting is one of the first things your opponent should and will consider when trying to make a decision. So for example, if you have been active the last couple of orbits playing about 30% of the hands you were dealt it is that much more likely that an opponent will call you if you try to bluff. This is simply because you have been very active and a stab at the pot will only look like a bluff; which is the last thing you want. And I know what some of you are thinking, if you played 30% of the hands dealt it was because you had an actual hand. That is fine, but unless you show them down an opponent will only assume you are trying to run over the table.
On the other hand, if you have been super tight and this is your first hand played in the last 30 or 40 hands, a raise of any kind will earn plenty more respect thus a bluff can be attempted if the other conditions are correct.
Once you have established your table image then it is necessary to consider your tablemate's images. This is no different then evaluating your table image. For example, if an opponent were tight then it would only make sense that they would fold unless they had a hand. If they happened to be very passive and liked to call most bets, then it would be safe to assume they are going to call your bets which should only tell you that bluffing might be a bad idea.
Overall, table images should be the first thing to look for because a player's characteristics tend not change, so you will know right of the bat if a bluff attempt has even a remote chance of succeeding before even considering the other factors.
Number of Players in the Pot
It would only make sense to attempt to bluff as few as players as possible because the more players involved in the hand, the more likely that someone has managed to connect with the flop.Ideally, with Omaha having so many draws which makes bluffing difficult enough as is, it would be suggested to never bluff more than one other opponent. There are just too many dangers associated with bluffing and if you do not have anything, than you may be potentially wasting many chips on that "nothing."
It is critical to examine the board texture before attempting a stab at the pot. As you know, players are given 4 hole cards which can create tons of different draws. So it is very important to make sure the board is relatively 'dry' before attempting a steal of any kind.
For example, if the flop were Kh-Qd-10s, then this would be a potentially dangerous board to try to bluff at. It is too likely that a player has already made a straight, if not two pair or trips. Not to mention that many players may even chase backdoor flush draws.
On the other hand, if the flop was Kh-9s-2c, then this may be a flop worth taking a stab at. Worst case scenario someone has trips but aside from that, it is all full of draws. If the turn were a card like an 8 or 7 then it would be that much more likely that a bluff attempt would be successful here.
In short, any board that looks like it may have connected with someone's hand it probably did or should at least be treated that way. The most uncoordinated board will be the best target when trying to take a stab at the pot.
Chip Stakes/Pot Size
Players will want to be sure that they have enough chips in relation to their opponent and to the size of the pot. This is because the whole idea behind a bluff is to put your opponent in a difficult situation forcing them to make a decision for a good portion of their stack. This obviously cannot be done if you do not have the necessary amount of chips to do this.
For example, if the pot was $1,500 and you only had $200 left in your stack and push it in, your opponent will probably call just simply because they are getting 8.5 to 1 on their money. On the other hand, if you bet out around $1,100 then your opponent would be more inclined to think you have a hand and would not be getting the greatest of odds to call with a marginal hand.
When making a bluff, you will actually want to bet enough that your opponent doesn't have great odds while at the same time feels as if you are trying to get value and are not actually trying to stab at the pot. Each opponent is different, but begin with around 2/3 the size of the pot and work from there.
Lastly, position is very important because obviously the later you are to act the more knowledge you can gain from your opponents and the potential strength of their hands.
Being the first one to act and attempting to bluff can be very tricky because if you make a substantial raise and then are re-raised, what do you do then? In most cases, you will probably have to fold wasting all of those chips on nothing.
However, by being in later position you can see how aggressive or how passive players are being with their hands and can make bluffing attempts on these observations. If the other player in the pot checks it to you, then you can put in a raise given the board is dry and he is rather tight. If he then check-raises you, then you know you are beat. If he calls, you can then assume he is on a draw and you can then asses whether or not a second barrel on the turn would be advisable.
None of this can accurately be done sitting out of position and being the first to act. I am not saying it is impossible to bluff out of position, just more difficult and preferably, a situation I would not like to be in myself.
How to Bluff in Omaha Poker
Many players will tell you that it is impossible to bluff in Omaha because of all the hole cards and draws available. While it may be difficult to do, bluffing in Omaha is definitely possible. The opportunities just come around much less when compared to other games such as Hold'em.
So be sure to stay observant and when the situation to bluff in Omaha does arise just be sure to consider the factors above to ensure that when you do take advantage of these rarer situations, that they end up being +Ev plays.