Omaha Poker: Rules and Tips for the Popular Poker Game
Omaha Poker: Rules and Tips for the Popular Poker Game
Most gamblers are only familiar with their favorite game, or games, of choice. If you love slots, you may not know much about roulette. If you are a blackjack player, craps may seem confusing to you. There is an exception to this rule though. The one game that almost everyone is at least somewhat familiar with is Texas Hold ‘Em Poker.
This was not always the case. In the 1960s the Golden Nugget Casino was the only casino in Las Vegas that even offered the game and other poker varieties, like Omaha poker, ruled the strip. It wasn’t until 1970, when Binion’s Horseshoe created the World Series of Poker – and made Texas Hold ‘Em the main event – that the game started to take off. Growing through the 80s and 90s, Texas Hold ‘Em exploded in the early 2000s when ESPN’s coverage of the WSOP showed internet poker player Chris Moneymaker shocking the poker world and winning the 2003 tournament.
From that moment on, Texas Hold ‘Em took off and became a fixture in casino poker rooms, kitchen tables, online casinos, and dorm rooms alike. While the popularity of this one style of poker has been great for the game overall, it has overshadowed some other fantastic poker games. Games like Omaha Poker are lesser-known but just as fun and exciting. Here, we will share everything you need to know about Omaha poker rules and some tips for the popular game.
Omaha Basics: How’s It Different from Texas Hold ‘Em?
Omaha (also known as Omaha Hold ‘Em) is a game that is very similar to Texas Hold ‘Em. So if you know the Texas rules, learning the slight variation of the Omaha poker rules is not hard. Here are the basic Omaha poker rules and how they are both similar to and different from Texas Hold ‘Em rules.
The major difference between standard Omaha poker rules and standard Texas Hold ‘Em rules comes when the hole cards are dealt to the players. These are the face-down, individual cards that players use in conjunction with the community cards to make their best 5 card poker hand.
After the four hole cards are dealt to each player, the community cards are dealt in the exact same manner as Texas Hold ‘Em. First, three community cards are dealt in the center of the table. This is called “the flop.” Next, a fourth community card, known as “the turn,” is dealt. Finally, the fifth and final community card, known as “the river,” is dealt. Between each deal, the dealer takes the top card off the deck and places it face down in a pile. These are called “burn cards.”
Button and Blinds
The button and blind systems are the same in Omaha poker rules as in Texas Hold ‘Em. The button denotes which player is the “dealer” when you are playing with a set dealer. This is the person you base the action on. The person immediately clockwise from the button is the small blind and the person clockwise from them is the big blind. Betting begins with the person immediately clockwise of the big blind and continues that way until the big blind player – or the player closest counterclockwise to the big blind player if they fold – has the final say.
The player clockwise from the big blind player can call, check, or fold, just as in Texas Hold ‘Em. Also like Omaha’s more famous cousin, the betting starts pre-flop, after you receive your hole cards, and there are rounds of betting that follow the flop, turn, and river as long as there are still at least two players involved in the hand.
As with Texas Hold ‘Em, the goal of Omaha is to make the best five-card poker hand using a combination of your hole cards and the community cards. However, Omaha poker rules are a bit more specific and restrictive than Texas Hold ‘Em. In the Texas variety, you can use one or both of your hole cards in conjunction with three or four community cards to make your best hand. In Omaha, you MUST use exactly two of your hole cards paired with three community cards to make your best hand.
What are the variations of Omaha?
One of the best things about Omaha is that there are a number of variations on the standard game. Whether you play in a physical casino, at home, or on an online poker site, you can find several different games utilizing the same basic Omaha poker rules. Here are the most popular variations on Omaha.
Pot Limit Omaha
Also known as PLO, this game puts a limit on what players can bet at any given time. That means that if the pot is $100, the max that a player can bet is $100. This is probably the most common and popular style of Omaha poker.
No Limit Omaha
The betting style here will be familiar to fans of no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em. In this form of the game, there is no cap on what players can bet. If a player likes their hand (or wants to bluff like they do), they are free to go “all in” and bet as much money as they have left in their chip stack.
Fixed Limit Omaha
As the name suggests, bets in this version of Omaha poker are fixed. The exact rate varies depending on the game, but there will be a fixed limit for each game and each round of betting.
This version of Omaha poker may also be known by a few other names including, Omaha 8, Omaha Hi-Lo Split, Omaha Hi-Lo Split 8 or better. In this game, the pot is split between the best high hand (a poker hand made from cards 8 or better) and the best low hand (Ace and up). If there is no qualifying low hand, the high hand wins the entire pot. You can find this hand at most casinos and it is very popular around Europe.
Omaha 7 or 9
These Omaha offshoots are hi-lo games that use either 7 or 9 and the high qualifier instead of the traditional 8.
Five or Six Card Omaha
These are regionally popular versions of Omaha where the main difference is that you receive either five or six hole cards initially as opposed to the traditional four. The 5-card version, also known as “Big O,” is most popular in the Southeastern United States. The 6-card version, or “6-O,” is most popular in the United Kingdom.
Named after and allegedly created at an eponymous luxury ski resort in the French Alps, this is a niche version of Omaha that is popular in France but is also gaining popularity in other areas of Europe. In this version, players get five hole cards and the first flop card is dealt simultaneously to these cards. After betting, the flop is finished with two more cards; then the turn and river are dealt as usual.
What strategies are there to playing Omaha?
Although there are many similarities between Texas Hold ‘Em rules and Omaha poker rules, the strategy of each game is actually very different. The number one mistake that new Omaha poker players make is thinking the strategy is the same. But because there are more hole cards and exactly two of them must be used, the strategy between the two games differs quite a bit. If you are a Texas Hold ‘Em player, you want to study and practice these strategies before joining a real money game like the ones at the Bovada online casino. Here are a few things to keep in mind when playing any version of Omaha.
Patience is a virtue
A major mistake that beginner Omaha players make, especially ones who have some experience playing Texas Hold ‘Em, is that they like their hole cards too much, which leads to playing too many hands. Having four cards in your hand leads players to believe they have a shot at a great hand for longer than they generally would in Texas Hold ‘Em. Folding a lot in Omaha is not a bad strategy. In fact, it usually is a very good strategy. Take your time and only play your great hands. Even when you are short-stacked, don’t panic. Omaha rewards patient players, not wild bettors.
Ok, you can bluff occasionally if you like, but in Omaha, you do not see nearly as much bluffing as you do in Texas Hold ‘Em. When players bet big, it is usually to capitalize on a great hand. If you are going to bluff, the best time to do it is early in the hand. Because players have four hole cards, there are more options involved on the turn and the river so players are much less likely to bow out at that point because of a bluff.
Know the best starting hands
The best way to succeed in Omaha is to understand the best starting hands. If you do not have one of the best 30 starting hands in Omaha, you usually should not play the hand. Also, having hands that involve a pair of aces is good, but not nearly as good as it is in Texas Hold ‘Em. The best hole card hand in Hold ‘Em is A-A-K-K. However, two aces and two random cards are only the 7th best hand and don’t give you much advantage over other hands such as J-10-9-8. Knowing these hands will keep you patient and in the game for much longer in Omaha.
Scooping the pot in hi-lo
In Omaha hi-lo, much of the general Omaha rules apply. You need to know the premium starting hands, be patient, and avoid a lot of bluffing. The one additional strategy point for hi-lo games is that you should play in a manner that keeps in mind that “scooping the pot” – which is winning the whole pot because there is no qualifying low hand – is the goal for winning in this style of Omaha.
This is not to say that you should not play to split the pot with the high hand winner by building a great low hand when the cards dictate. But it does mean that your betting size and strategy should be dictated by trying to win the entire pot when your cards present that possibility. This comes into play most before and just after the flop. If your hole cards only give you a low option, it may be best not to play them. If the flop shows there will be no low option available and you have a good high hand, that is a time to make your move and try to scoop the pot.
Texas Hold ‘Em is a great game but it is not the only poker game around. Omaha is similar enough that it is very easy to learn but different enough that it is very challenging but fun to try and master. When you get to know the Omaha poker rules, the styles of games, and a few basic strategies, you can be on your way in no time to falling in love with another style of poker.
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