Understanding Straight Draws in Pot Limit Omaha

Analysis of Pot Limit Omaha Outs

With four hole cards in every hand, making the equivalent of six Hold’em starting hands, the hand values in Pot Limit Omaha tend to run big. Most hands are won with straights or better, so a thorough study of the straight draws is important in mastering Omaha. Given the large pots created by the pot-limit betting format, nailing down the straight draws is crucial.

Whenever the board does not contain a pair or three cards to a flush, the best possible hand is almost always a straight. In fact, only a non-paired, non-flushed board like AK982 or AJ964 does not lend itself to a straight being the nuts. In those relatively rare cases, top set is the nuts, which shows the value in playing high pairs (which can also make top full house).

Four Outs in Pot Limit Omaha

Just like in Texas Hold’em, the four out straight draw is virtually worthless (unless it is in combination with some other made hand or good draw, in which case it adds a small amount of value to the hand). An example is a holding of QJ87 on a flop of 954. Only one of the four sixes will complete a straight, and it is about 16% likely to complete by the river. If faced with calling pot-sized bets on the flop and turn, drawing at this straight could prove very costly compared to the rare instances when it actually hits.

Eight Outs

In Hold’em, an eight out straight draw is a good feature to a hand, if the player holds a pair to go along with it. For example, T9 on a 987 flop gives the player 13 outs twice to beat an overpair (except JJ). In Omaha, an eight out straight draw is relatively weak, as we will see.

Nine Outs

The nine out straight draw most commonly occurs when there is a three-gap on the board, and the player holds one of each of the cards that fill the three gaps. On a flop of K9x, a player holding QJTx has nine outs to complete a straight, and all nine outs are nut outs, meaning the player will have the best hand possible (as long as the river card does not make a higher straight, flush, or full house possible.

Thirteen Outs

The thirteen out straight draw is the most common big straight draw, and it is commonly called a wrap draw. A common holding is four running cards that wrap around two cards on the board. With 9875, on a flop of 64x, the player has thirteen outs to a straight - four threes, three fives, three sevens, and three eights. If one of those cards comes, the player will have the nuts (the best possible straight) as long as the river card does not make a better hand possible. A thirteen out straight draw is roughly even money against a naked top set (meaning it is currently the best hand but has no chances to improve).

Sixteen Outs

The best straight draw possible is the sixteen out nut draw. This happens when the player holds two connecting cards, with two more running cards with no more than two gaps. 9864 on a flop of 75x has 16 outs to improve to the straight, and all sixteen outs will make a nut hand.

Seventeen Outs

A seventeen out straight draw occurs when we hold three cards that wrap around two cards on the board. 985x on a flop of 76x has seventeen outs (four fours, three fives, three eights, three nines, and four tens) to improve, but only eleven of those outs are to the nuts (the eights and nines make higher straights possible). Facing action, a player with this straight draw would need to be cautious, as a hand like JT98 or T985 would have the player dominated.

Twenty Outs

These draws come when holding a two-gap hand like T965, and flopping the two middle cards (87 in this case). Any four, five, six, nine, ten, or jack completes a straight. All of those outs are nut outs except the nines and tens (so fourteen nut outs).

When selecting starting hands, it is important to select hands that can make these big wrap straight draws (or flop straights with a chance to improve to a higher straight). Playing hands with all four cards connecting, with no more than two gaps total, gives the best chance of flopping a favorable draw.