3-Betting in Omaha: More Than Just Aces

French rapper Kool Shen competes during the Winamax Poker Tour. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

Poker gets a lot easier when you start with pocket Aces. This is true in Omaha as well as Texas Hold’em; those bullets aren’t quite as deadly when you’ve got two other hole cards attached to them, but they’re still powerful enough to open from any position.

You should also 3-bet those bad boys pretty much all the time. Pretty much. What else should you 3-bet, though? If you only raise with Aces in Omaha – and a lot of beginners and intermediates do just that – you’re leaving money on the table. There are two reasons for this:

– You aren’t raising often enough.
– Your smarter opponents will know you have Aces when you raise.

The second of these two reasons should be obvious enough. The first is a simple question of math: You will be dealt pocket Aces 2.57% of the time, or about once in every 39 Omaha hands. That’s a lot more often than once in every 221 Hold’em hands, but still not nearly enough to maintain a suitably aggressive playing style.

Still not convinced? Imagine only 3-betting pre-flop 2.57% of the time in Hold’em. That’s something like pocket Jacks or better and Ace-King. If you’re raising someone who opened from early position, fine, but what if you’re in the big blind and the small blind opens? You’re supposed to raise about 20% of the time in this scenario.

Not a problem. In this award-smelting article, we’ll help you craft some proper Omaha pre-flop raising ranges that will take you beyond mere pocket Aces. Let’s start with what many consider the second-strongest hand category in Omaha:


If you’re not going to get pocket Aces, four consecutive cards are about as good as it gets. You still want them to be as high-ranking as possible; double-suited is even better, of course. If you raise with a strong rundown and get called, this gives you lots of ways to make the best hand post-flop.

As a very quick rule of thumb, if your opponent opens from early position, only 3-bet your rundown if it’s double-suited, with no card lower than a Four in your hand. If they open from middle position, you can start raising your single-suited rundowns. And if they open from late position, even something like JT98 rainbow can be worth 3-betting.

Double Pairs

These are some of the most overlooked starting hands in Omaha. Getting dealt two pocket pairs at once means you have double your Hold’em set-mining power, although sets themselves aren’t as powerful in this variant. Again, higher-ranked double-suited cards are ideal, and if those pairs are connectors like KKQQ, delightful.

Double pairs are also a bit easier to put into ranges than rundowns. You can 3-bet pretty much all of them against players who open from the cut-off or later; if they’re under the gun, stick with 7766 double-suited or better, and TT99 single-suited or better. Expand your range from there to account for opponents raising from middle position.

Pocket Kings/Queens/Jacks

These big pairs aren’t nearly as powerful in Omaha as they are in Hold’em, but don’t be too quick to throw them in the muck. Virtually all pocket Kings fall into that 20% range for 3-betting over the small blind, and most double-suited Kings are good enough to raise an open from any position. Anything in between could use a healthy combination of suitedness and connectedness, like KK74ss or KKT9s.

Queens and Jacks require even more side help. These hands should absolutely be double-suited if you’re going to get aggressive, and you want some higher-ranking connectors to go with them. That means QQ87ss or better and JJT7ss or better if you’re raising anyone but the player under the gun. Make sure your side cards are two Broadway cards including an Ace if you’re going to 3-bet the UTG player.

There’s a small handful of other categories you can sprinkle into your raising range, like unpaired Ace-King and suited Aces, and pocket pairs with two additional connectors – but only if your four hole cards are strong enough overall. Rundowns with gaps in them can work, too, provided the gaps are small and not too numerous.

If you’re uncertain at all about those “other” starting hands, stick with the aforementioned three categories and your pocket Aces for now, get comfortable with raising them pre-flop, and may the rectangles be with you.