Don’t pay off when you know you’re beat. This is one of those tips that’s a lot easier said than done. Even the best players can sometimes make crying calls against their better judgement. As a general rule if your gut is telling you strongly “I know I’m beat” you probably are. It takes discipline and emotional control to make the correct fold when you were holding the nuts on the turn and the flush card just hit the river. This is even more true in PLO than NLHE because these types of situations come up far more often. In some situations it won’t even be close–it’s a clear fold–and if you’re not folding in these spots you will lose money.
While extracting value and making money from your big hands is very important in Omaha, so is making a solid fold. Sometimes your wins/losses will be represented by a single hand where you decided to make a big call or fold. There are plenty of times where players will think back on their last session and wonder about what the difference was between winning and losing. Many hands will provide you with an opportunity to cut your losses vs. maximizing your gains. This certainly is not the most glamorous way to look at poker, but it needs to be in your game plan if you hope for any type of long-term profitability.
Some of the most popular poker players are well known not only for their big bluffs, but also for the hands that they were somehow able to fold. Folding the nut flush or a full house is something that a lot of NLHE players would never think of doing, but it becomes an absolute necessity in Omaha.
Relative hand strength was important in NLHE, but the importance of relative hand strength is multiplied in Omaha. Since hand ranges are so wide and different than in other games, Omaha creates situations where players can be holding just about any four cards. It will be quite a challenge to pin point the exact four cards that someone is holding, but you should still be able to use reasonable guesses to determine when a big fold is and is not ideal.
There is little fun involved in throwing away a hand that you might have waited several hours for, but it is just another skill that you will need to learn. Making folds is something that the action junkies hate to do, particularly in Omaha, but it will definitely be critical to both your short and long term success.
WHEN TO FOLD BIG HANDS
The biggest obstacle for Omaha players, new and old alike, is determining when a big hand should be folded. It can be painful to let go of a monster, but it can also make you feel good knowing that you made the correct decision, however heartbreaking it may have been. In fact, you might eventually realize that a strong fold feels much better than a good call. Anyone can click the call button and hope for the best even when they are likely to be beat, but it takes a truly skilled player to know when to actually let go of a hand that is going to cost them money.
A big hand is in the eyes of the beholder. Depending on a number of circumstances, including history, the board, your image, etc., a fold may or may not be consider particularly difficult. If I told you that a player folded quads, you would probably be quite impressed if I told you that their play was correct.
Now, if I told you they folded quads on a board of AAAA8 and they had 3456, you would not be nearly as impressed. Of course this example has some holes in it considering the rules of Omaha, but you get the point. The general rule is that the difficulty of a fold will be entirely dependant on the particular circumstances of that hand, table, or player.
Don’t fold a straight because you think you are beat by a better straight, fold the straight because you have a legitimate reason to believe that you are beat by a better straight. Look for patterns or hints to accurately find spots where your big hands are behind.
The trick to making a strong fold in Omaha is not all that different than making a strong fold in any other form of poker. It all boils down to realizing that a flush or a full house is only a big hand if your opponent has a straight. When there is a paired board and you have the weaker full house, don’t be surprised to find out that your opponent’s 4-bet meant that they had the nuts. Always keep things in perspective and it will be that much easier to fold in Omaha.
Here’s an example of the type of situation I’m talking about. You’re on the button in a $0.50/$1.00 game and you are dealt the following:
You raise pot which is $3.50 and the villain in the BB calls. The pot is now ($7.00) and the flop falls:
You’ve flopped the nuts with top set, its’ checked to you and you fire a pot sized bet of $7, your opponent quickly calls. The pot is now ($21.00) and the turn card falls:
Again your opponent checks and again you bet the pot, $21. He calls. The pot is now ($63.00) the river is:
Your passive check/caller suddenly becomes the aggressor, firing a $48 bet. The pot is now ($111.00) and it costs you $48 to call, what should you do? Fold!
This is a situation where you are almost always beat. If your opponent had a lower set or a top two pair kind of a hand he would almost always check/raise the flop or turn and if he chose to slowplay those hands he will never fire so strongly on this river. The nine of diamonds completes the flush draw which is his most likely holding but it also completes any straight draws he called the flop with. In this situation you are probably good less than 10% of the time if the villain is just your average player.
Even though calling here is unprofitable and I’m sure many of you reading this already know that to be the case it needs to be stated anyway because in the moment it can be hard to let go of what was the stone cold nuts on the turn. Thoughts of anger can push you into making bad decisions and it’s these clear cut folds in big pots that could be the difference between a positive win rate and a negative one. In short: When you feel like you’re beat, fold!