Omaha Poker, otherwise known as Omaha Holdem or simply Omaha, is one of the most popular poker game types in the world. Currently, the only game type more popular at poker sites on the web than Omaha is Texas Holdem. Interestingly, Omaha shares a lot in common with Texas Holdem: players are faced with blinds, community cards, multiple betting rounds, and a final hand evaluation known as the showdown.
The main differences between Texas Holdem and Omaha, however, lie within the way in which hands are evaluated and the number of hole cards that each player receives.
Omaha is commonly known as a poker game that has extremely high action, even compared to the notoriously fast-paced Texas Holdem. Due to the nature of the betting rules in Omaha, players are more likely to take more hands past the flop and call more bets than they would in Texas Holdem.
However, the increased action does not make Omaha poker an easier game to beat at poker betting sites. In order to succeed, you’ll need to be completely familiar with the rules, betting structures and strategies involved in Omaha.
Places to Play Omaha
18+, T&Cs apply, and Gamble Responsibly (BeGambleAware).
How to Play Omaha
It is designed for 2 to 10 players, and includes both community cards and hole cards. The goal is to win as many chips as possible, which is accomplished by having all of your opponents fold or having the best hand at the showdown. Omaha cash games are played until one player holds all of the chips and no other players wish to buy back in. Cash games can also be ended when players agree that the game is over.
In order to play properly, you’ll need to follow some basic steps:
- To start, the player seated immediately to the left of the dealer posts the small blind. The next player to the left posts the big blind. The big blind is equivalent to the lower betting limit, while the small blind is equivalent to half of the big blind.
- Each player receives one card at a time from the dealer, facedown, until each player has four hole cards.
- The first betting round begins after all players have their hole cards. This betting round ends after each player has taken a turn and each player has contributed the same sum of money to the pot.
- The dealer places the flop on the table facing up. The flop consists of three community cards. Before dealing the flop, the dealer must burn (discard) one card facedown.
- Another betting round ensues.
- The dealer burns one more card and deals the turn. This is the fourth overall community card.
- Another betting round ensues.
- The dealer places the final community card, known as the river, on the table.
- The final betting round begins, followed by the showdown.
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- Four of a Kind
- Full House
- Three of a Kind
- Two Pair
- One Pair
- High Card
The showdown is where Omaha differs the most from Texas Holdem. In an Omaha showdown, each player must assemble their best possible poker hand using exactly two of their four hole cards and three of the five community cards. For example, a player holding four Aces as hole cards would only be able to use two of those Aces in their qualifying Omaha hand. The player could not claim to have 4 of a kind, since they must use no more than two hole cards.
Learn the Rules
Players can make several betting decisions in Omaha including bet, raise, call, check and fold.
To raise is to match the previous wager and add an additional wager on top of it, which the next player must then meet. A bet is simply the name given to the first raise made after the blinds are posted.
To call is to match the previous player’s bet. A check is the same, but it can only be done when there hasn’t been a previous bet. Folding is the act of throwing your cards into the muck and removing yourself from the current hand.
It’s possible to play Omaha with No Limit, Pot Limit and Fixed Limit betting structures. However, for practical purposes, No Limit Omaha is rarely played, if ever. This is because the high amount of action inherent in Omaha requires some sort of betting limit in order for the game to stay under control.
Pot Limit Omaha, often referred to as PLO, is the most common betting structure for Omaha. The minimum bet in Pot Limit Omaha is the value of the big blind. The maximum bet is the total value of the pot. Players can bet any amount in between the maximum and minimum, including those values.
In Fixed Limit Omaha, the betting minimums and maximums are predetermined. For example, in a $3 / $6 game, the highest bet would be $6, while the lowest allowable bet would be $3. The blinds required in this game would be $1.50 for the small blind and $3 for the big blind.
In a Fixed Limit Omaha game, the betting increment before the flop is equal to the lowest bet. In our example game, a bet would be $3, while a raise would be $6. After the flop, the betting increment raises to the value of the big bet. In our example, the bet would be $6, while a raise would be $12.
The most popular form of Omaha is Omaha Hi, or simply Omaha. However, there is a variation of Omaha known as Omaha Hi Lo, which is played at many online poker betting sites. Omaha Hi Lo features the exact same rules as Omaha, except for the way in which hands are evaluated during the showdown. During the showdown, the pot is split in half in Omaha Hi Lo, with half of the pot going to the player that has the best poker hand, and other half going to the player that has the lowest hand.
In order for the low hand to qualify as a winner, it must meet certain criteria. First, it has to include exactly two hole cards and three community cards. All five of these cards must have their own value. This means that none of the cards can form a pair. Next, each card must have a value of eight or lower. Aces are treated as low cards for the low hand and high cards for the high hand.
Finally, suits have no effect on the low hand. In this way, two players with the exact same low hand will have to split the low half of the pot. No tiebreaker is afforded for the low hand in an Omaha Hi Lo poker betting game.
Omaha Hi offers the same hand rankings as Texas Holdem. The hand rankings, from best to worst, are as follows:
In Omaha Hi Lo, these same hand rankings apply for the high hand. However, the low portion of the split pot is awarded to the player that has the lowest hand. The lowest possible qualifying hand in Omaha Hi Lo is Ace – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5. Low hands are judged according to their highest card. For example, 2 – 3 – 5 – 6 – 7 is lower than Ace – 2 – 3 – 4 – 8, since 7 is lower than 8.
Strategies to Follow
The basic strategy used for successful Omaha betting is similar to Texas Holdem. Tight-aggressive play is ideal. This means folding all mediocre hands and betting and raising aggressively with a strong hand. As with most forms of poker, your success will also depend on your ability to read your opponents and deduce what cards they might be holding.
Strategy differences between Omaha and Holdem come into play when you consider the fact that you can only use two of your hole cards. In this way, having three of a kind or four of a kind in your starting hand might look great, but it’s actually a poor hand because you can only use two of the cards. In addition, since the card is in your hand, it will have no chance of showing up in the community cards.
For this reason, the ideal starting hand is having two high pairs or suited connectors. These hands have the greatest chance of drawing to straights, full houses, three of a kind and other strong poker hands.