Omaha Poker is a game that was created from Texas Hold’em Poker. Casino executive Robert Turner first brought Omaha into a casino, when he introduced it to Bill Boyd, who 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 play only two of them. There is still a flop, turn, and river dealt out and you use 3 of the 5 community cards to make 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 to 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
Omaha has 4 cards 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 like 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 also hands that may seem very strong in hold’em (such as three of a kind), aren’t always incredibly strong in Omaha.
You also may not play LESS than two cards in your hand. For example: If you have Ah, Ks, 5c, 10d and the flop has four hearts on it, you do not qualify for an Ace-high flush. You have to have 2 of the suit 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 popular and 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 are 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, whilst playing with a deep stack has the intention of playing more hands and seeing more flops.
Omaha Poker Rules
There are a few rules of the game to be sure that you remember when sitting down at an Omaha game:
- You must use exactly 2 of your 4 cards that you’re dealt to make your hand
- In order to make a flush you must have at least two of the needed suit in your hand, and for a straight you must have 2 cards involved in the straight hand.
- Only bet/call/raise/fold when the action is on you.
- Never touch another players chips
- If you’re playing PLO you may raise the entire size of the pot, but don’t have to.
- You do have to raise at least minimum the size of the big blind (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, and 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 are 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 in Omaha is to be careful about what starting hands you’re playing. If you have 5558 as your starting hand, remember you CAN’T play all three of those 5’s. Good starting hands can range anywhere from suited connectors, or connecting cards (Jh, Qh, Kd, 10c). You want to give yourself a lot of options on the flop, and having straight and flush opportunities are great things to look for. You also don’t want to get too caught up in getting dealt 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’s a list of a few thoughts on very strong starting hands normally regardless of your seating position:
- Being dealt pocket aces is always a great spot to start in, especially if you have another card(s) in the same suit (Ah Ac 7h 2c)
- Any semi high connecting cards are nice to start with (Jh, 10s, 9s, 8c) (Ac, Kc, Qh, Jd)
- 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 would 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.
Example 1: Your cards: As Ks 10d 10c
Board: 8d, 10s, Kd, 4d, 3c
Where you stand: Now 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 it deceive you because it can get pretty confusing!
Example 2: Your cards: 10d, 9s, 8c, 6d
Board: 7c, 10c, 4d, 9s, As
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 maybe in an ok spot here with the board not having a flush draw and only an outside shot at a straight draw.
Example 3: Your cards: 4d, 4c, 5s, 10d
Board: 8c, 8d, 4s, Jd, Ad
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 4s, 8c, and 8d on the board for your boat.
Omaha may seem a bit confusing at first, but as you play it more you’ll start to pick it up more and more as you go along. Omaha poker can be one of the most fun types of poker, so get out there and hit the tables to practice a bit!