If you are going to play in an Omaha Hi/Lo (also known as Omaha 8 or better) online poker tournament, you will have to make some adjustments from typical ring game strategy and play. Unlike a cash game, you can’t refill your chip stack when you run out in a tournament. Add in the fact that the blinds continue to increase, and the strategy for a tournament can be significantly different. It doesn’t mean the fundamentals of the game change however, it just means that you need to account for the changing dynamics that a tournament creates.
One thing you should be doing in a tournament is seeing more flops early. The main reason for this is because the blinds are low and your stack size is deep in comparison (usually). Your goal during these stages is to accumulate as many chips as possible so that you can handle the quick swings of the later stages. Seeing as many flops as possible and playing a smart post-flop game is a good way of doing this. When you are in position, it is often correct to speculate in multi-way raised pots with what would be a very marginal hand in a cash game. You’ll more than likely lose a few bets here and there seeing a lot of flops, but your primary objective is to be scooping the big pots that more than make up for those small losses.
Later in the tournament, the exact opposite is true. You want to see fewer flops and will need to tighten up your game considerably as the blinds increase. It is not uncommon in the later stages of a tournament for the average stack to be somewhere between 10-20 big blinds. Seeing two hands to the river and losing at this stage can cripple you, if not eliminate you completely. At this stage, it’s best to stick with premium hands. It’s also important when the stacks are shallow like this to be aggressive pre-flop. Players are much more likely to fold to a pre-flop raise at this stage because the raise amount actually can damage their stack.
One last thing that is important to consider is the adjustments that need to be made in a tournament, especially in the later stages. You should know where you stand in relation to the rest of the field at all times. If you’re getting close to making the money, it is a good idea to know where your stack size shapes up in relation to the remaining players. If you are in danger of not making the money, you have two choices – wait and hope people bust out, or be aggressive and try and accumulate chips while people are playing ultra tight. This Writer is more in the latter camp…I’d rather take my chances to put myself in a position to win the big money than to just squeak into the money and barely make a profit. That choice, however, is ultimately yours.
In addition, knowing how to adjust to short-handed play is important in tournaments. You will often be playing five to seven handed in the later stages of a online poker tournament and will need to adjust the hands you play. A hand like A-3-x-x that would be unplayable at a full table is often a very big hand at a six handed table.