Maintaining position as the number-one card game is no mean feat. As such, poker has to fulfil the expectations of numerous gamblers. To make that happen, different versions popped up over time, and, as online gambling bloomed and became mainstream, all major online casinos added the most popular poker games to their library.
Texas Hold ‘em certainly holds the title as the number one poker game, but Omaha poker is hot on its heels. More and more players are interested in learning Omaha poker rules, so we decided to put together a guide with all the necessary information to help you master this game. Let’s get to it!
The Story Behind the Game
Omaha poker is derived from Texas Hold ‘em; however, its exact origin remains unknown. What we do know is that the first mention of Omaha poker came from a professional player, Robert Turner, who introduced it to William Walter Boyd – the manager of the Las Vegas Golden Nugget Casino card room at the time. In honor of the casino, this game was first known as “Nugget Hold ‘em.”
As the game evolved over the years, so did the rules of Omaha poker. Omaha has the same basics as Texas Hold ‘em, which means that, if you know how to play one, you will easily adjust to the other.
Through the past decade, Omaha became one of the most popular poker variants and developed sub-variants you can try out for a change of pace.
Betting in Omaha Poker
Omaha poker betting can be split into three categories:
- No Limit: The version in which there is no limit, and a player can bet any amount they like.
- Pot-Limit Omaha: Also known as PLO, this is the most popular form of Omaha poker. As the name suggests, the maximum amount of a player’s bet is equal to the total sum of the chips in the pot and cannot exceed it.
- Fixed Limit: With this option, the pot can be raised a maximum of four times, and the bet or raise must match the size of the blinds.
There are also two additional Omaha poker game variations you can encounter on most online poker places:
- Omaha Hi – The highest five-card combination of a player’s cards and community cards takes the pot in this version.
- Omaha Hi-Lo – The gameplay runs the same as in Omaha Hi, until the showdown. The highest hand takes half the pot, while the lowest hand takes the other half. The ideal situation would be when the same player holds both the highest and the lowest cards, which would get him the entire pot if the community cards fit his combination as well.
How To Play Omaha Poker
As mentioned, if you have any experience with Texas Hold ‘em, playing Omaha should not be difficult at all. Still, there are some dissimilarities, and we will clarify them in a bit.
Omaha poker requires a 52-card deck and two to ten players to begin. You also need poker chips, a dealer button, and two blinds buttons.
Here is what you should know about the betting rounds, in order:
- The pre-flop: This is the initial betting round and, in it, some players are obliged to place a bet, after which the other players can fold, call, or raise.
- The flop: Once the dealer places the first three community cards on the board faceup, the players decide which action to take.
- The turn: The dealer takes out another community card and lets the players decide what to do once again.
- The river: In the final betting round, the dealer places the last five community cards on the board before the players decide what to do.
- The showdown: The players reveal their cards.
If you’re learning how to play Omaha, these are the fundamental rounds to keep track of, and we’ll now get a more detailed view of each.
The Initial Betting Round
The game begins once the big blind and the small blind are placed. The small blind is placed by the first player on the dealer’s left, and the big blind by the player to the small blind’s left.
The dealer then gives four facedown cards to each player and, as soon as they all have them, the first betting round is on. The Omaha poker rules related to dealing are the game’s biggest difference from other poker variants. The first player to go is the one positioned on the left side of the big blind; the order continues clockwise.
There are three choices players have during each round:
- To call, i.e., place a bet equal to the big blind size.
- To raise and therefore place a bet higher than the big blind to see if the other players will follow it.
- To fold, or leave the hand and give their cards back.
With Omaha poker, the game rules say that, in the second round, the dealer places three faceup cards on the board and the new betting round can begin. The players are building out their hands and deciding on which action to take.
The third betting round is the one in which the dealer takes out another card and places it faceup on the board. All the remaining players are working on their strategy.
The dealer places one last faceup card on the table, and the last betting round starts. Omaha poker rules say that, if there are still two or more players, the round continues as the previous ones did. However, if the majority of the players have already folded, the hand goes to the last man standing.
In this final round, all the players still in the game need to turn at least two of their facedown cards and match them with the five cards from the board to hopefully build a winning hand.
In basic Omaha Hi, the player with the highest hand wins the round and takes the pot.
The Difference Between Texas Hold ‘em and Omaha
You have probably noticed by now that, even though there are some similarities to these two card games, there are also some significant differences.
Both Texas Hold ‘em and Omaha use community cards, and the player hole cards are dealt facedown. The most significant difference is that, in Texas Hold ‘em, players get two facedown cards, while in Omaha, they get four facedown cards instead. Out of those four cards, the players need to choose two and combine them with three of the five community cards to make their five-card hand.
If you wish to try and play Omaha poker online, be advised that, as a player, you are obliged to use two of your hole cards, as well as three of the community cards to build your hand. On the other hand, Texas Hold’em allows you to use:
- both of your hole cards
- just one hole card
- no hole card at all (you can use all five community cards instead)
As the players start the game with four hole cards, there are more possible outcomes in Omaha, and a wider range of combinations than in Texas Hold ‘em. That’s part of why live Omaha poker is the preferred choice for high-stakes gamblers.
Both games have the same poker hand rankings, so that shouldn’t be an issue for you if you already know how Texas Hold ‘em works. The hands go like this, from the strongest to the weakest:
- royal flush
- straight flush
- full house
- two pair
- one pair
The best starting hands in Omaha are all double-suited, as follows:
- A A K K
- A A J T
- A A Q Q
- A A J J
- A A T T
- A A 9 9
- A A X X
- 8 9 T J
- K K Q Q
- K K J J
Omaha Poker Tips
Now that we know the basics, let’s also go through some tips and tricks to help your strategy.
One of the most important factors in Omaha is poker positioning. This represents the order in which the players are seated around the table and can have a significant impact on the players’ actions. When you are in the right position, you can follow the actions of the other players and make your choices based on the information you have. You can even control the pot size in some cases.
On the other hand, if you’re out of position in an Omaha card game, you won’t have as much information, and it will be harder to make a good decision.
What about bluffing, then? It’s one of the most interesting strategies in any poker game, but is it always worth it? If you’re a beginner, bluffing is probably not the best option, as there are too many possible combinations to think of. Experienced players, however, can gain an advantage by making high bets on the flop, which makes it harder for the rest of the players to determine what action to take. To help with this, though, some websites even incorporate the Omaha odds calculator, a helpful tool that will let you check all the possible scenarios based on what you have at the poker table.
Another thing you should pay close attention to is the blockers. Those are the cards you keep in your hand to prevent another player from making a certain hand. Blockers are essential, as they will make your opponent waste time looking for a different possible combination, which can quickly get tricky.
We hope that we were able to help you get familiar with this exciting version of poker. Still, if you want to learn to actually play it, we suggest that you give it a try. You can also play the various free Omaha poker online game versions before you feel comfortable enough to step up your game and deposit actual money.
Every beginning seems tough, and everyone tends to make some rookie mistakes; as time goes on, you will see that this game has plenty to offer and might even become something you’re passionate about.
What is the difference between Omaha and Texas Hold ‘em?
The main difference is that, in Omaha, the players are dealt four hole cards, while in Texas Hold ‘em, they only get two. In Omaha, players are obliged to use two hole cards and three community cards to make a five-card hand which is not a rule that applies to Texas Hold’em. This is the main divergence between Omaha and Hold ‘em poker rules, but the rest is pretty much the same, and so are the poker hand rankings.
What is a good hand in Omaha poker?
It is a bit trickier to determine what a good hand in Omaha is, as it has far more variations and possible outcomes than Texas Hold ‘em. In our article, you have seen the exact combinations considered to be the best starting hands, so you can check them out if you wish to learn how to play Omaha poker.
Do you have to play 2 cards in Omaha?
Yes, and this is the only consistent rule that applies to all forms of this game. Your poker hand needs to have the two hole cards combined with the community cards from the board.
Is Omaha harder than Hold’em?
This depends on player preferences. Although Omaha does not have as much raising action and pre-flop betting as Hold ‘em does, it involves a more complex strategy. There are various odds the players need to take into consideration prior to making their bets. But if you are good at math and paid attention while reading our Omaha poker rules guide, there’s nothing to worry about.