Board Texture in Omaha Poker
written by: John
An important concept and skill that poker players need to understand and master is, is what flop or board texture is, how it relates to their hand and most importantly, how it relates to their opponent's hand. This is an important skill to master simply because players' are not always going to have the best hand but will still need to make plays based on where they feel their hand stands in comparison to the board and their opponents.
In Omaha, it is imperative that players learn how to read flop texture because with each player being dealt four cards this makes for many draws and many spots where players can end up being second best if they are not careful.
To help all of you avoid being second best when playing Omaha or Omaha Hi/Lo, we have explained board texture in Omaha a little bit further.
Understanding Board Texture in Omaha
For those of you that do not know what board texture is, it is actually quite simple; the board would be the flop or community cards that each player uses and the texture would be along the lines of how draw-y or how un-draw-y the board is. A very textured or 'wet' board would be something that had lots of draws or made hands possible such as Ah-Kh-Qh or Ah-10h-8s while a dry board would be the opposite and would look something along the lines of Ah-9d-2s or Jh-6s-3d and so forth.
Now that all of you have an idea of what board texture is, let's take a look at a couple different flop examples and go over the thought process that needs to take place before making any decisions.
Board Texture Examples
• Your Hand: Ad-Kd-Ks-9s | Board: Kc-10c-8s
Ok, so this is a good hand as we have made trips with our pair of kings. But even though we have the best hand possible, it is still important to look at the board and see what possible hands can be made that can beat our trips.
The very first thing I notice is the 10-8 which can be combined with a number of starting hands that can potentially beat us; J-9 and 7-9 will give any opponent an up and down straight draw with 8 outs to their hand and any combination of Q-J, Q-9, 6-9 or 7-J will give players a draw to a gut-shot straight draw. The gut-shot is less worrisome than the up and down draw, but still worthy of being noted.
Aside from the straight draw, the other obvious hand is a K high flush draw. Any player drawing to this will have 9 outs to catch their hand and this is worsened if a player happens to be holding a Q, J, or 9 of clubs since that will better their chances of making a hand.
So, what do you do here? Well, it would depend on the situation; if I were facing only one opponent I would probably be aggressive and lead out here in hopes to take the pot down. If there were multiple opponents, I would be pretty passive and would consider check calling or check folding if we faced a large enough raise or re-raise. Many of you are probably wondering why on earth would we fold trips here, but the reason is simple enough; trips are a strong hand, but a straight or flush is better and with that many outs it is quite possible that one of the two opponents will catch their hand.
So in short, play this aggressively against one opponent but against multiple opponents be ready to check-fold, check-check or check-call if the bet is small enough.
• Your Hand: Ad-Kd-As-Ks | Board: 7c-8c-9d
When looking at this board, it is really discouraging to say the least. All we have here is top pair with a backdoor flush draw. It is too likely that someone has caught their straight and/or is drawing to a flush. We are virtually drawing dead at this point and should fold our hand.
• Your Hand: 8s-Qh-2s-3c | Board: 9s-Js-10h
This is an 'ok' flop since there is a higher straight that can beat us. But the positive to this is that even though we may be slightly behind, if at all, is that we have the power of a re-draw.
Re-draws are where you may have a hand which may or may not be ahead at the moment but have a draw to a better hand than what you currently have. So in our case, we have a Q high straight which can obviously be beaten by a K high straight. But this is ok since we have a 're-draw' to a flush which of course would more than likely give us the better hand.
This hand should be played aggressively since very few hands are going to be better than yours are.
• Your Hand: Ad-Ks-Qc-Jh | Board: 10h-10d-10s
This is a fun hand isn't it? On first glance, you will probably jump out of your chair and scream, 'yay, a straight.' Well, remember you have to use 2 of your 4 starting cards when making a hand so at this point we do not have much of anything.
In addition, your hand here is no good because even if you pair one of your cards the best hand you can have is two pair since you have to use 2 of your 4 hole cards. So in short, there is virtually no way you can make a boat here and it is very likely that someone else has.
This is a hand to play with absolute caution, if at all, since you can probably assume that your hand is just about no good if not drawing dead.
• Your Hand: As-Ad-2s-3c | Board: Ac-3d-6h
In this hand here, you can see that we have flopped trips with a low draw. This is a great hand for us because the trips are the best at the moment and if the board pairs, we will definitely have the best 'Hi' hand to take at least half the pot.
Also, at this point just about any lo card will give us the nut lo to split the pot and if the board pairs at the same time, we will be able to scoop the whole thing.
This would be a good hand to get extremely aggressive with as you have plenty of outs to take the whole pot down.
Board Texture in Omaha Poker
Hopefully through our examples we were able to show you why reading the board texture in Omaha is such an important skill to have. Players need to be sure to look beyond their own to cards and examine what the board says is the best hand and then compare their hand to it to see how easily they can be beaten by their opponents. Learning how to do this will definitely help you avoid being the second or third best on the river, thus avoiding devastating losses to your 'roll.