Omaha Poker is a game that was created from Texas Hold’em Poker. It was casino executive Robert Turner first brought Omaha into a casino when he introduced it to Bill Boyd, who in turn liked it, then offered it as a game at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas.
In Omaha Poker you are dealt 4 cards instead of 2, but still only play two of them. There is still a flop, turn, and river dealt out and you use 3 of the 5 community cards to create your hand. Omaha Poker can be played in two forms – Hi and Hi/Lo. In Omaha Hi, the highest hand wins whilst in Omaha Hi/Lo, players simultaneously play for both the best possible hand and the lowest possible hand.
A low hand must have all cards under 8 to qualify, with the best hand you can get being 5-4-3-2-A (the wheel), and the “worst” qualifying low hand being 8-7-6-5-4. The best way to rank low hands is that they can be read as numbers between 54,321 and 87,654 (with the exception of numbers that have a pair, such as 65,422). What this means is that the lowest number that any player can make is the best possible low hand in play.
How To Play Omaha Poker
4 cards are dealt to each player pre-flop, with 5 community cards dealt face-up, spread across 3 rounds of betting (just like Hold’em). It’s played almost exactly identically to hold’em through the rounds of betting.
The main difference between Omaha and Hold’em is that you can only play 2 of the 4 cards in your hand so it can be a bit tricky, and hands that may seem very strong in Hold’em (such as three of a kind), aren’t always as strong in Omaha.
Another thing to know is that you can not play less than two cards from your hand. For example: If you have Ace of hearts, King of spades, 5 of clubs, 10 of diamonds and the flop has four hearts on it, you do not qualify for an Ace-high flush. You have to contribute 2 of the suit from your own hand in order to have a flush, and the same rules go for a straight.
Omaha poker is played in a few different ways but most commonly cash games. PLO (pot limit Omaha) is the most common form of Omaha – in this game players may only raise an amount up to the size of the pot, and no more. There are a few different strategies when playing PLO, but most people tend to either play with a deep stack or a short stack. Short stacking basically means that you’re looking for spots to get all your money in the middle, whereas if you are playing with a deep stack your intention is to play more hands and see more flops.
Omaha Poker Rules
There are a few rules of the game that you must remember when sitting down at an Omaha table:
- You must use exactly 2 of the 4 cards you are dealt to make your hand.
- In order to make a flush you must have at least two of the required suit in your hand; for a straight, you must have 2 cards involved in the hand.
- Only bet/call/raise/fold when the action is on you.
- Never touch another player’s chips.
- If you’re playing PLO you may raise the size of the entire pot, but don’t have to.
- You do have to raise the size of the big blind as a minimum. Example: if the blinds are 30/60, the minimum you can raise to is 120.
- In Omaha Hi/Lo there are two ways to win; the high hand or the low hand. You can win both.
- In a cash game, you may not add chips during a hand but may buy chips in between hands.
Omaha does have a few more basic rules than hold’em does, and of course, there may be more depending on where you’re playing and whether or not you’re playing online.
Basic Omaha Poker Strategy
The most important thing to remember is to be careful about what starting hands you’re playing. If you have 5,5,5,8 as your starting hand you can’t play all three of those 5’s. Good starting hands can range anywhere from suited connectors, or connecting cards (Jack of hearts, Queen of hearts, King of diamonds, 10 of clubs).
You want to give yourself plenty of options on the flop, so straight and flush opportunities are great to look out for. You also don’t want to get too caught up in getting pocket pairs; having two 8’s in your hand isn’t nearly the same in Omaha as it is in Hold’em (depending on the situation of course). Here are a few thoughts on some very strong starting hands regardless of your seating position:
- Being dealt pocket aces is always a great spot to start in, especially if you have another card in the same suit (Ace of hearts, Ace of clubs, 7 of hearts, 2 of clubs).
- Any semi high connecting cards are nice to start with (Jack of hearts, 10 of spades, 9 of spades, 8 of clubs / Ace of clubs, King of clubs, Queen of hearts, Jack of diamonds).
- Play a bit wider when you’re in a later position; pocket pairs and connecting cards are a lot easier to play when you have position on the rest of the table.
- Don’t over-play three of a kind or two pair when there are straight and flush possibilities on the board.
- If there are three cards of the same suit on the board it is highly likely that somebody has a flush.
- Remember that full houses and straights happen a lot more in Omaha than you might imagine.
There are a lot of things to take into account when playing Omaha, but being aware of the board and what is potentially out there is critical.
Your cards: Ace of spades, King of spades, 10 of diamonds, 10 of clubs.
Board: 8 of diamonds, 10 of spades, King of diamonds, 4 of diamonds, 3 of clubs.
Where you stand: Remember, it may look here like you have a full house, but you only have three of a kind (10’s), because you can only play two of the cards in your hand. Don’t let confusion get the better of you.
Your cards: 10 of diamonds, 9 of spades, 8 of clubs, 6 of diamonds.
Board: 7 of clubs, 10 of clubs, 4 of diamonds, 9 of spades, Ace of spades.
Where you stand: Again, it looks like you could have a straight, but you can only play two cards, so you actually have two pair (10’s and 9’s). You may be in an ok spot here with the board not having a flush draw and only an outside shot at a straight draw.
Your cards: 4 of diamonds, 4 of clubs, 5 of spades, 10 of diamonds.
Board: 8 of clubs, 8 of diamonds, 4 of spades, Jack of diamons, Ace of diamonds.
Where you stand: You had a great flop and hit a full house, so don’t let the flush draw out there scare you. You play the two 4’s in your hand and the 4 of spades, 8 of clubs, and 8 of diamonds on the board for your boat.
Omaha may seem a bit confusing at first, but as you play it more often you’ll start to pick it up and become more confident as you go along. Omaha poker can be one of the most fun poker variations to play, so get out there and hit the tables to practice and see if it’s for you.