Heads Up Omaha Strategy

Tony Bromham

Home Strategy Omaha Poker. Brush Up on Your Omaha Skills with 888poker's Vivian Saliba. February 13, 2021 888poker. Only if you're playing heads-up or with fewer tables, then you can think. Forums / Pot Limit Omaha; All Pot Limit Omaha 5,572 Threads High Stakes $$$ 423 Threads Mid Stakes $$ 1,327 Threads Low. Heads Up PLO Strategy: Part 1. Viktor Luis Larsson Essential Pro Resume Video. Start from Beginning. Heads-Up Poker Strategy There are two ways in which you’re going to find yourself in prolonged heads-up play: you’ll either be at the end of a tournament and you’re battling the one person standing between you and victory, or you’re actually engaging in a heads-up tournament.

Tony is a regular on-line and card room player living in England. He mostly plays Texas Hold'em and Omaha (High and Split) at fixed, pot and no limit, at both cash and tournament tables.


I have a soft spot for Omaha Hi/Lo Split. I think it is because the battle is joined with players who do not always share the same goal at the table. Unlike standard Omaha High or Texas Hold'em where everyone is trying to be the last one standing with the best high ranked hand, I am aware at Hi/Lo Split that there are many opponents who pick up their cards (virtually speaking - on-line) hoping to see A 2 x x. They focus first on the low cards and seem to regard the high cards as less important. Consequently, the game is looser than it should be because of the average-quality hands in play.

So, usually it pays to be tight and wait until the good cards come, usually with one ace or two. Then you can go in heavy knowing there will be plenty of callers donating to your cause. While that may be the case with a multi-handed table, are there exceptions?

Low Blues

Not only is Omaha Hi/Lo Split intriguing and often profitable, it can also be an intensely frustrating game. None more so than when you have built a monster high hand and the board - before the river - shows two cards of 8 or less. You know the large pot is probably all yours unless the river is one of the remaining low cards that doesn't pair the board.

You might hold Ah Qh Qd 3d, raise it up pre-flop and still get 5 or 6 callers. The flop shows 4d 2c Qc. You have the nut set and nut low draw and bet out strongly. Three opponents donate to the pot. The turn is 4c giving you the nut full house and no low is yet made on the board. One player calls your large pot bet. The river is the 3c counterfeiting your low card and not making a low for you. You only have a few chips left so cannot make a monster bet to take your opponent off the hand. He shows 9h 8c 8s 7c.

His flush chase was the sole reason for his calls and even though he made it on the river, it was only 8 high in his hand making it a weak call and the pair on the board was even more danger to him and cost him the high hand. Yet his 8 7 made him a completed low hand, 8 7 4 3 2. Usually this would be useless but you have no low hand at all! Half the pot has gone and your profit on the hand is very small. It's enough to turn you to Omaha High for good!

A player with 9 8 8 7 isn't at all well placed in Omaha Hi/Lo Split. It hardly has anything going for it since any straight made will most likely yield half the pot at most (for the high hand). If the player makes the nuts with 6 5 4 or 7 6 5, you will probably lose the low hand. If the straight is because of J T 9, he might easily be beaten by someone holding K Q or Q 8 so his return is then zero with a big Z. If he flops an 8 for a set, he is still beatable by higher sets. Yet, in this case, your exemplary play has not got its rewards because the player with this hand chased with a poor hand and no grasp of pot odds!

Facing Up

Can you level such an accusation at someone who is playing you heads up at Omaha Hi/Lo? Before the flop, probably not. At heads up in any variation, the two players could be dealt any old tickets and one set of old tickets will beat the other, half the time. If you have anything remotely connected you will probably seek to raise. At pot limit, it might well be enough to end the hand but then again, heads up, there is a lot to be said for calling. You might connect with the flop but, more importantly sometimes, you do not wish to declare yourself a passive player to your opponent or he will just raise you out of the game.

If you are holding the 9 8 8 7 heads up and the cards and betting follow the above example, you will still have to fold on the very poor pot odds unless you believe you can re-raise a pot bet strongly and turn the tables. That requires a deep stack, a lot of resolve and running the risk of ending your interest there and then.

Heads Up Omaha Strategy

It is not often you find yourself heads up before the flop on-line. However, I played a Sit'n'Go heads up tournament the other day on Pokerstars.com. I noted that my opponent, who had been sitting waiting for a challenger, was active in two or three others. All of them $50 heads-up challenges. Clearly this was a man or lady who had identified a niche. I suspected I wasn't in for a quick ride!

I wasn't wrong there. It took 56 minutes to finally win the tournament after spending the first half an hour slightly behind. As the blinds increased, the swings became greater with both of us at one time or another all-in with hopefully what we felt was the best hand. Eventually it took a big hand which I won because, unlike the example above, the low card did not fall on the river.

I held A K Q x. The flop showed an A and another low card. The turn was a T and the river a T too. My opponent showed A J 4 2 and I took the whole pot with my better kicker to our joint A A T T hands.

Early play was fascinating. I decided I would raise pot (this was only $30 with $5/$10 blinds) with any hand, or else fold the unconnected rubbish. My opponent folded to several of these raises and called a few others. He rarely re-raised. If I raised on the flop, he folded easily. I thought he was tight and passive. This way he did not lose too many chips and occasionally, as time wore on, after my raise on the flop, he would suddenly re-raise me. I was then on the defensive. This early pattern had me down to about 40% of the chips for quite a while and my early bravado waned.

As the blinds increased so did my opponent's raising and I was now down to 30%. Clearly I needed a good hand to meet one he liked. I now had to be patient and wait for the right time to strike. This happened two or three times. I picked up hands like A 2 3 K, A A 2 7 and when that happens, it is 'pot raise, re-raise, all-in' if the opponent is so inclined! Inclined they usually are as they have the chips and are keen to end it. I certainly felt my opponent was losing his patience after 40 minutes of jousting.

The third time I took the lead was with the hand already mentioned. Another one finished it off. That was tough. I saw that my adversary had already joined two more battles and was slogging it out in another. Sooner he than me I thought. I noted also that his last four results had been two wins and two defeats. I wonder if he makes a regular income.


The nature of pot limit Omaha Hi/Lo Split is that it is volatile in respect of the betting and also the hand composition as each card comes down. Nonetheless, you can make it less so for yourself by controlling your urges to get involved in hands at a full table unless you hold some strong cards - the usual ones giving you good high potential and if necessary low cards too.

At heads up, this changes before the flop since any half-decent cards might be ahead of your opponent. However, having played a tough tournament against a regular heads-up player, it still seemed to me that passiveness and caution played a big part early on. That player's M.O. seemed to be to lull me into thinking he was passive and later to get very aggressive. The term Passive/Aggressive seemed to be the description that paid off - except this time it paid off for me. I became passive after aggression didn't work early and then aggressive whenever the hand warranted it. That was still usually when my hand had the potential for the high pot. Winning half a pot heads up is a waste of time unless it gets you out of jail!

Either of us could have won it and in some ways that sums up heads up play. Aggression is the key so long as it isn't blind aggression or plain recklessness. You still have to know when to give up a hand. The rest is up to the turn of the cards.


18 August 2005

Ed Note:Noble Poker has 6 handed single table tournaments that we think are easy pickins..get in on the action

Heads up poker is the purest form of the game and is one of the most profitable game types for skilled players.

Heads up poker format means that you will have to play the blind every hand and hence will have to play LOTS of hands - in some cases 100% of the hands you are dealt.

It's a high-pressure environment, that's for sure.

For a proficient player, this gives the opportunity to impost their skill set onto weaker opponents every single hand and can mean higher win-rates when compared to 6-max and full-ring games.

Heads Up Omaha Strategy

The key skill in heads up poker is the ability to adjust to your opponent and exploit them - that is what we will be covering in this article as we try to adjust to another professional player and target his leaks and weaknesses.

Adjusting Your Heads Up Strategy

Heads Up Pot Limit Omaha Strategy

A winning player's heads up poker strategy consists of a malleable game plan ready to go from the onset. Solid ranges they’ve developed that they look to adjust as new information is learned about their opponent.

Playing against a past challenger allows you pick-up where you left off in your previous encounter. Looking for ways to get an edge. Exactly what I was doing in a recent heads-up poker SNG tournament battle where I was pitted against a coach from Japanese poker site, www.pokertrainingjp.com.

I had won 2-1 in the previous bout of HU SNG’s, but Akinori issued a new challenge. He was keen for revenge since the games would be recorded for content on the Japanese poker training site.

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The key to defeating Akinori again was all in the adjustments. His style was ‘TAGish’ which leaves you particularly vulnerable in short-handed and heads-up games.

My plan was an aggressive blitz. Constant aggression allowing me to win the majority of the pots. Chipping away at him until eventually, I’d finish off his dwindling stack.

This is also a very common scenario when heads-up in an MTT.

MTT poker players often lack a heads up poker skill set and are easily exploited since they aren’t used to playing the wide ranges necessary to be competitive heads-up.

Check out the video of the match and then we will discuss the strategy involved:

Heads Up Poker Strategy: Preflop Starting Ranges

I planned to open around 5% wider than I would against a tough opponent. In hindsight, I think opening 100% of hands would have been a reasonable strategy. This would allow me to exploit his tendencies to over-fold preflop, and 3bet at a low frequency. A style which was confirmed in the replay as he made some questionable folds.

Conversely, against his open raises, I didn’t plan on folding much at all.

Heads Up Omaha Strategy Guide

Versus his 2.5x open raise I was calling more than 5% wider than I would against a tougher player. The pot odds would be 2.3:1 to call. Around 30% ‘straight-up‘ equity required. When considering the all important equity realization, with some of the weakest calls in my range like 63o, I’d need to realize equity as follows;

Equity realization required = pot odds / equity = 0.3 / 0. 334 = 90%.

I was fairly confident I’d be in this vicinity given Akinori’s tendency to be a little passive post flop, especially on the later streets. This is common for a lot of ‘TAGish’ players when they get to heads-up.

They know a good strategy is to open a lot of hands preflop, but this translates to them being out of their comfort-zone on later streets when they’re frequently left with much more marginal holdings then they are used to. Typically resulting in a lot of turn and river checking.

This passivity on later streets would allow me to realize a reasonable share of my equity OOP. Again evident in the replay as some of my weaker out of position floats did get to the river where I was able to steal some nice pots (Q2, J9, etc).

Defending The Blinds Heads Up: 3betting

Part of the HU strategy to defend frequently from the big blind included 3 betting a lot.

A typical strategy might include a mix of:

Omaha Hi Lo Heads Up Strategy

  • weaker suited hands,
  • premium hands,
  • and a mix of suited connectors mostly for board coverage protection.

All at a frequency.

Equating to around a 15-20% sort of range spread. I planned on pushing this a bit further to 20%+ by including a mix of high-low holdings (as we saw with Q2s, J4o), and some weaker combinations at a low frequency. Aiming to profit from my opponent's over folding ways.

Key Strategies To Beating Heads Up Poker

Overall the adjustments pointed out are not huge. However, they help set the tone of the match, as well as lay the foundation for post-flop play. Increased opens, more defending from the big blind including a lot of 3 betting. Bitcoin sports.

This style makes it really tough for a 'TAGish' type of opponent to get into a rhythm as it keeps them constantly under pressure. Their likely response is to attempt to steal less, which has the profitable result of allowing for more walks from the big blind.

This tough preflop play is then backed up postflop with frequent cbets and barrels, as well as a good mix of raises and floats. Which will be the topic of next article as we continue this heads-up series!

What About VS Loose Heads Up Opponents?

Each type of opponent presents different challenges to overcome. Loose opponents allow you to me more patient with your offense. Reducing your bluffs whilst increasing your value bets - Since your opponent will be doing more calling.

You can 3 bet wider for value if they aren't folding to reraises preflop. Proceed post-flop by cbetting less, but look for 'thinner' value. Especially on the later streets when you have more accurately identified your opponents range.

Floating out of position which works well against tighter opponents, should be used carefully. When calling a flop cbet with a marginal hand, along with some hope of improving to the best hand, the chance to steal the pot on a later street often makes this play profitable. However loose opponents often call the river with a wide range. So bluffing in a lot of spots can be a futile play. Stick to solid holdings and contest the pot more aggressively in position.

Positional advantage offers you the opportunity to take more free cards, value bet confidently, and fire small ball bluffs. Remembers a loose opponents range will often be wide, so timely bluffs should be an important part of your strategy. Attack when their range consists of numerous weak holdings, and the board heavily favors your range. Don't push the aggression but rather look for boards that develop favorably when firing multiple bullet bluffs. Moves like this can be quite risky against a loose opponent!

Summary: Strategical adjustments made this match

Having played against my opponent previously, I'd gained a good feel for the way Akinori was playing. Overall a little too tight, in, and out of position. This provided me with an opportunity to make some adjustments to gain an edge in the match.

Starting with preflop. Raising more on the button and defending more aggressively from the big blind. Setting the tempo of the match, I kept my opponent under pressure and was clearly winning the majority of the pots. By adjusting and gaining an edge in the game, I was again able to claim a 2-1 victory in this heads up poker match.

Make sure you check out the video below for some more heads up poker strategies:

Get Access to Lesson 5.8 From the Road to Success Course which is a 45 minute video covering important heads up strategies.

Want more videos like the ones in this blog post? Check out the PokerNerve Road to Success Course where we have almost 100 videos like this to help take your game to the next level.

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