Swimming With The Sharks: Wrap It Up

Posted at 18:00 2009-05-20
One of the most important aspects of Omaha is the draw. Omaha is a drawing game; it is not uncommon to find yourself with all your chips in the middle and a big draw, against a set, and a favourite. What separates average gamblers and pros is the ability to recognize when a draw is worth the price of the pot you stand to win.
I always like to talk of the different levels of draws. It’s quite simple really. There are three main types of draws. These are the three draws you will find yourself getting your money in with while playing. Straight draws (known in Omaha as wraps) are level one. Flush draws are level two. Sets are level three.
Let me explain quickly my level theory. Level one, the wrap, is the worst type of draw because while it has many outs, it can get easily beaten and once it is beaten it is drawing dead. For example, if you make a straight but your opponent makes a flush, you are drawing dead. The flush draw is level two, because if you make your flush and someone makes their straight, you have them beat, but on the other hand, if someone makes a full house, you are drawing dead. Level three is the set, because once you make a full house, the flushes and straights are both drawing dead. Sets are easier to play than other draws simply because no matter what draw you are up against, you have outs or could be in front. Unless, of course, someone has a higher set, but we’ll discuss set strategy in a later article.
You could be asking yourself why I have labeled the set as a draw. This is because in Omaha a set is not always a made hand. For example, on a board of {Kh} {Td} {9s} you could be holding KKxx, however you are behind anyone with QJxx. Therefore, you would be drawing to the full house. That’s how we put the set into the draw category.
Today I will be discussing level one, the straight wrap. For those that don’t quite understand what a wrap is, it is an Omaha hand which has three or four cards that combine to make multiple straight draws. Holding 65xx on a board of 7-4-Q does not give you a wrap, as you only have two cards to give you two straight draws. However, holding 653x on that board gives you a wrap, as you can make a straight with a 3, 5, 6, or 8.
Now, it’s important to remember when chasing a wrap, that you have to think about your outs. In the example above, you have 8 outs to the up and down straight draw. With the wrap, you have only 7 of those outs (as you are holding a three) but you also now have three 5’s and three 6’s, giving you 13 outs. Hopefully that didn’t confuse you.
Of course, wraps can come with flush draws too. If you flop a flush draw as well, you may find yourself with nearly 20 outs, if not more. While it is important to draw to the nuts, it is more important to know whether any other possible made hands win you the pot. For example, if the above hand played out and you had a decision for all your chips, you would be aware that the 3 or 8 would give you the nuts. The 6 or 5 will not give you the nuts; however, you could figure that unless someone is holding 79xx with their flush draw or something similar, that your hand could be the best with those cards too, despite not being the nuts. That could make or break your decision, so remember that.
I always suggest playing wraps tentatively. On draw-heavy boards with flush draws and players representing sets, it’s important to remember a plethora of cards can come and leave you drawing dead. Being able to recognize what outs are live, what outs are dead, and whether you have the right price to play are important.
This is not to say that playing wraps passively is the only way to play. In tournaments, it is my belief that wraps, especially in heads up pots, are to be played aggressively. For example, if you raise preflop with a hand such as 4567 and get re-raised, don’t give up and fold. This is a great opportunity for you to play a big pot. Most of the time your opponent will not be good enough to put you on a hand such as the one you hold, so if the flop runs out like the 4-7-Q we saw earlier, not only would your opponent be behind, but probably unaware of it too. Play your connectors to see a flop as often as you can for as little as possible, and re-assess on the flop. Omaha, especially in the cash game format, is a game where seeing the flop is pivotal to the hand, so try to get to as many as possible with your wrap hands.
Hopefully I’ve shed some light into the wrap, and how to play it. Each situation may require different strategy, so always be aware of changing table dynamics and when you need to adjust how you play certain hands. Next week I will move on to discussing level two, the flush draw. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me through the PokerNetwork forums. Until then, I wish you all the best of luck on the felt.
- Michael ‘SharkBoy’ Palti


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Swimming With The Sharks: Wrap It Up! Swimming With The Sharks: Wrap It Up!