I was perusing online earlier this year and found a bunch of sites talking about the Hutchinson Approach to Omaha, which basically breaks down each Omaha hand into a series of points for specific cards in your hand and gives you a theoretical parameter for calling and raising ranges. I found this to be very interesting but to use this exclusively would never make for a perfect strategy, because I feel like you need to add points based on position and aggression factor. For those of you who have never heard of the Hutchinson Approach, heres a little synopsis for the uninformed.


Hutchinson Point System: Basics (Source: Edward Hutchison (December, 1997). "Hutchison Point Count System for Omaha High-Low Poker". Canadian Poker Monthly)

1. Suited Cards

If you have a suited ace as highest card, give 9 points

If you have a suited 7 as highest card, give 1 point

Lose 2 points if you have more than 2 cards of one suit (2 for 3, 4 for 4)

2. Pairs

Aces: 18, Kings: 16, Queens: 14, Jacks: 13, Tens: 12, Nines: 10, Eights: 8, Sevens or Lower: 7, 3 of a kind: 0

3. Rundown Cards (no three card gap or greater)

4 in a row: 25 points

3 in a row: 18 points

2 in a row: 8 points

lose 2 points for each gap (ex: 910QK loses 2 points for one gapper, 89QK loses 4 points)

4. Probabilities

Number of Points = 1/2 Percentage to win point (Ex. 20 points means 10% to win, approximately)

Theoretically, the system says call with 28 points or greater and raise with 32 points or greater. However, there are problems with the Hutchinson system in the game today, how do we modify it accordingly to produce a winning strategy for today. A lot has changed in 16 years, lets look at some of the basic changes.

The Modified Hutchinson for Today:

1. Table Size

If you look on Pokerstars today, the odds of finding a 9 max game versus finding a 6 max game for omaha is very slim. Players like to increase their positional edges because they can raise more hands effectively in a short-handed table as they only have to get through a maximum of 5 players versus a maximum of 8 players in a 9 handed game. Therefore, we must assign greater emphasis on card values in a short-handed game, given the fact that it is now less likely that our opponents have our cards or blockers than in a full ring game. Lets look at an example of this...You have AAKK double suited, the best hand in Omaha. In a 9 max game , this is worth 54 points (Aces: 18, Kings: 16, Two suited Aces: 16, Straight potential: 4). You will hit top set 38% of the time and have a lot of good flops in your arsenal. However, if you are playing 9 max, there is a greater probability that someone will have another ace or king in there hand than in a 6 max game (20 in 48 vs 32 in 4). Given the fact that the Hutchinson system is based on a 10-max game, we can give slightly higher weighting to pairs and suited aces, given the increased likelihood that these cards are still available for us to hit, and given the probability that more of our straight and flush cards are still alive.

2. Position

The Hutchinson System deals solely with a theoretical evaluation of the cards based upon their apparant value and the relative chance that they will be good as the cards run out, but position can increase the value of these cards. Lets look at an example, you are at a 6-max table on the button with 9876 4 suits, giving you 24 points, which looks like a marginal fold given you have only the potential for a straight. However, the action has folded to you and you know that against 2 random hands, your odds have increased dramatically to win the hand, so a marginal decision can become a raise, given the likelihood that your opponents could have bad cards as well. Also, even if you are called, you still have two ways to win, the flop could come 27K 3 suits and the BB who called just checks. You can cbet, representing a good pair or a set. If your opponent has 4 randoms cards, he will make one pair only 50% of the time and 2 pair only 16% of the time so it has a good chance. As well you can flop 20 different straights with your hand and a bunch of straight draws, so your point value increases given your poisition on the table.

3. Players

Most likely, back in 1997, if you wanted to played Omaha, you had to be in Europe or somewhere else to play (but I dont claim to be a poker historian, so dont quote me on that). Today, its easy to sit down at a table and play a bunch of aggro. junkies who crave the action. As a result, it makes sense to assume that the players have gotten a lot younger and become increasingly aggresive. The Hutchinson system, although mathematically sound, does not take into account a player whose willing to 3 barrel bluff you on a flush and straight board when you hold the second nuts and want to soul read him for a call, but you just feel like hes got your number again and you want to stab his name on the computer...wait...theory...thats right....and were back. Lets go back to our first example again to illustrate this point. You have AhAsKhKs on the button, giving you all the advantages. UTG bets pot, the CO calls and you, noticing you have a premium hand, and want to thin the field, repot it. The BB now cold calls you, as well as UTG and CO and you see a flop. And it comes 4c5c6s. And you throw up. As the BB now pots and the CO raises pot and you see them race with a straight versus the nut flush draw. Now, if its 1997, you might get more respect and get it heads up or even take it down. But today, players realize that even the best hand in omaha is only a 65% favourite against a random hand, and that goes down considerably against 4 players. Most likely, players calling ranges have increased over time are more people are willing to call with less, making a emphasis to bloat the pot less unless you can get most of your stack in.

Next time, I will try to make my own modified Hutchinson system by including these new parameters in the hopes to showing just a little more into how i play the game. Also, I hope to have the second part of my 25PLO video out by this weekend, but until then, good luck to all.

In Omaha We Trust