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When most people think of poker, the version of the game that springs to mind is Texas Hold’em. However, one game has been on a mission to change that opinion for quite some time, and that’s Omaha. As a result, Omaha Poker has established itself as the second most popular variation of the game, and it has continued to grow in popularity to this day.
There is a dispute over the exact origin of the game, but it was brought into the mainstream in 1982 by Robert Turner. The WSOP Bracelet winner started allowing it at tables at the Las Vegas Golden Nugget Casino, and it didn’t take long for it to become accepted by the wider community.
In this Omaha Poker guide, we are going to break down everything that players need to know about the game, including betting limits, different versions, how to play, and more.
If you’ve played Omaha poker before and just want a quick recap of the rules, this is the section for you. Don’t worry; if you’re completely new to the game, we have a detailed explanation of the rules further down the page.
Players draw cards to decide who starts on the button, with the highest card winning. The two players to the left of the button post the small and big blind before the cards are dealt. The dealer then deals the cards one at a time, starting with the SB and moving clockwise around the table until each player has four cards.
Once the cards are dealt, the preflop betting action starts with the player directly to the left of the BB and moves clockwise around the table. Players have the option to fold, call, or raise. The preflop betting round ends if only one player is remaining or if all remaining players have matched the last bet.
After the preflop betting round is over, the flop is dealt, and there is another betting round. Postflop, the players have the option to check as well as bet, call, and fold. In Pot Limit Omaha, each bet or raise must not exceed the size of the pot. The flop betting round is complete when only one player remains or if all remaining players have matched the last bet.
Next, the turn is dealt, and there is another betting round. The rules are exactly the same as they were on the flop. Finally, the river card is dealt, and there is a final betting round. If more than one player remains after the final round of betting, the cards are turned face up, and the player with the best five-card hand wins the pot.
Players must use two cards from their hand and three from the board when making their best five-card hand. In the event of a tie, the pot is split evenly between all players who hold the same hand.
In this section, we will break down the betting stages in the game for those who are new to Omaha poker or just poker in general. Of course, there’s a high chance that experienced players will know all the information listed here, but it never hurts to scratch up on some of the basics.
The first and most significant difference in a game of Omaha Poker is that each player is dealt four cards face down, as opposed to two. This is because, in Omaha, the aim is to make the best hand possible using two of the four-hole cards and three of the community cards.
This significantly impacts how easy it is to form bigger hands. As a result, there are many more big-hand possibilities when playing Omaha Poker, which means several things. Firstly, this, combined with pot limits, means people tend to stick in the game longer. Secondly, a lot of people find Omaha easier to play in terms of maths. Don’t be fooled, though; Omaha is incredibly complex, with a possible 16,432 starting hands being available compared to just 169 in Texas Hold’em.
The button determines who the dealer is for the round and rotates clockwise around the table with each street. Once the button has been decided, the players to the left need to place the small and big blinds. When this has been done, the cards will then be dealt, and the game can begin. The player to the left of the big blind will start, and they are presented with one of the following three options-
The raising options in the game will depend on which version is being played. In addition, betting structures will differ between different versions of the game, which is something we will get to later in this guide.
The next street in the game is the flop. This is when the first community cards are dealt and placed on the table.
The player to the left of the button then kickstarts the next round of betting action. Throughout the game, the button moves clockwise during each round, and all betting moves clockwise around the table. There is also the option for players to check their hands during this round. This move does exactly as it says on the tin, with players simply checking their hands and not raising. Of course, this is only possible if no previous raises or bets have been made.
The Turn is the next stage of the game. The dealer then takes the top card from the deck and burns it before laying down the next community card. This is effectively a rerun of the flop in terms of betting, with players having the same betting options and the round coming to an end the same way.
The fifth of the community cards is known as the River. Once the card has been dealt, the betting can commence. Once again, this follows the same betting structure as previous streets. This is the last round where any cards will be dealt before we head to the showdown.
The showdown is where the biggest difference between Omaha and Texas Hold’em becomes apparent. As in other poker games, the showdown is where everyone must reveal their hands, and the final winner or winners are determined.
The key difference in Omaha is that players have to try and make the best possible hand by using two of their four hole cards and three cards on the table. This provides a little more flexibility and makes for an exciting showdown. The river bettor or raiser must show their hand first. If this is not an option, then the small blind must go first.
Of course, players don’t have to reveal their hands in this round. Instead, they can opt to muck them, folding without showing the opposition what hands they had. Furthermore, as we will see when we explore different versions of the game, the winners of the round may be determined in different ways.
The hand rankings in Omaha Poker are as follows:
The possibility of forming good hands is higher thanks to the rules of Omaha, but it can be restricting from time to time. For example, if A-A-A are all on the table and a player has A-10-2-7 in their hand, they can’t make a four-of-a-kind hand because they have to use two of the four cards in the hole.
There are three popular betting limits for Omaha Poker – pot limit, fixed limit, and no-limit. Let’s take a look at each of the three versions:
Pot-Limit might be the most popular version of the game around. Here, the maximum amount that players can bet in the game equals the total amount of the pot at any given time. Playing the game early doors can be relatively inexpensive, but the level of risk raises quickly as the game progresses, ramping up the excitement.
Fixed limit Omaha is probably the lowest risk of the three variations and can be a popular option for those who want to learn the ropes of the game. In this game, players can only raise the pot four times, and the rise has to be equal to the size of the blinds. This means that the game ends up being reasonably inexpensive in comparison to other versions. Players are also less likely to fold throughout the game and stick to the cause as there is less risk involved.
This is the opposite of a fixed limit and best suits more aggressive and experienced players. As you can guess from the name, there is no betting limit in this variation, allowing players to bet and raise as much as they please during the game. This is the highest stakes variation of the game and also the one with the biggest potential prizes.
Players can find two main variations of Omaha Poker at most online and physical casinos and poker rooms.
This is probably the simplest version of Omaha to understand as it follows the same rules as most other poker variants. In Omaha Hi, when players reach the showdown, the highest five-card hand secures the win. This is the most common type of game that players who’ve played Texas Hold’em will be used to.
You may also see this version of the game referred to as Omaha Eight or Omaha 8/B. In this round, two hands can win – the highest and the lowest at the table.
The lowest hand does not win in every case, though. To be eligible to win, the player with the lowest hand must have five unpaired cards at 8 or lower. In this instance, the pot is split between the two hands. However, the players can have both the highest and lowest hand at the table, in which case, they would win the entire pot. This is one of the most common versions of the game and can be found at many online casinos.
If you read the rules recap, you’ll have seen that we mention that in Pot Limit Omaha, the maximum you can bet or raise is the size of the pot. We mention this because Pot Limit Omaha is the most popular format of Omaha poker, so it’s important to understand its unique rules.
Calculating the size of the pot when playing online is easy, as the computer does it for you. All you have to do is press the “Pot” or “Max Bet” button, and it shows you the maximum you’re allowed to bet. However, in live poker, the calculations must be done by hand.
While you can ask the dealer to calculate the size of the pot for you, it’s good to know how to do it yourself, as it reduces the likelihood that you give away any tells when talking to the dealer. Plus, the dealers are only human, and sometimes they’ll make mistakes, so it’s a good backup if you know it yourself.
Let’s start by looking at the equation for calculating the size of the pot, and then we’ll look at a couple of examples.
Raise/Bet Size = (3 x Last Bet) + Pot Size Without Last Bet
If you’re unfamiliar with the mechanics of poker, this might be a little hard to wrap your head around, so let’s look at some examples.
In the first example, we’re first to act on the flop, and the pot size is $20. Intuitively, you can tell that the maximum you can bet is $20, as that is the size of the pot, but let’s look at it with our equation just to make sure.
Bet Size = (3 x Last Bet) + Pot Size Without Last Bet
Bet Size = (3 x $0) + $20
Bet size = $0 + $20
Bet size = $20
But what if our situation is a little more complicated? What if we want to raise preflop? Remember, in the preflop betting round, the big blind counts as a bet, so we need to treat it as the last bet in our calculations. This is how we’d work out how much we can raise in a $1/$2 cash game.
Raise Size = (3 x $2) + $1
Raise Size = $6 + $1
Raise Size = $7
We can see that if we want to raise preflop, the maximum we can raise is $7. The last bet is the big blind, which is why we multiply $2 by 3, and the remaining pot is the small blind, which is why we add the $1 at the end. But what if someone else has raised pot before us? What’s the maximum we can raise? Let’s take a look.
Raise Size = (3 x $7) + $3
Raise Size = $21 + $3
Raise Size = $24
This means that if someone else has already made a pot size raise, the maximum we can 3bet is $24.
This calculation can be applied to every street; just remember to multiply the last bet by three and add up the rest of the pot, and you’ll be golden!
If you’re used to playing No Limit Hold’em, you may think that Omaha is just the same game but with two extra cards. However, there are key differences in the rules that are unique to Omaha, and if you want to play well, you must be aware of them. Let’s take a closer look at the rules unique to Omaha poker.
The most notable difference between the two games is that in Omaha, you’re dealt four cards instead of two. Double the cards mean it’s much more likely that someone at the table has a playable hand, even if you’re raising from mid-late position, so you need to be careful with your hand selection.
One of the biggest differences between Omaha and Texas Hold’em is the betting limits used in each game. Texas Hold’em is most commonly played in a No Limit format, where players can bet any amount at any time. However, Omaha is often played as a Pot Limit game, which means that the maximum you can bet or raise at any time is the size of the pot.
In online games, working out the pot isn’t much of a challenge, as the computer works it out for you – all you have to do is press the “Pot” button, and it will automatically load up the maximum bet. However, in live games, it has to be worked out at the table. In a casino, you can ask the dealer what the maximum bet would be, but in a home game, you need to work it out yourself.
In Hold’em, you can use any combination of your hole cards and the board cards to make the best five-card hands – if there’s a royal flush on the board, that’s your best five-card hand! However, in Omaha, you must use two cards from your hand and three from the board, no matter what. This is the rule that trips up beginner Omaha players the most.
In the same example, if there’s a royal flush on the board in Omaha, you don’t have a royal flush as your best hand. You need to pick two cards from your hand and three from the board to make your best hand. This means that there are no one-card flushes or straights in Omaha, either. If there are four hearts on the board and you have one heart in your hand, you don’t have a flush.
This is the most important rule to remember, as many beginners find themselves calling with flushes or straights that don’t exist.
One of the most popular versions of Omaha poker is Omaha Hi/Lo, or Omaha 8 or Better. In this game, each pot is split in two, with one half going to the player with the highest hand and one half going to the player with the lowest hand. This means that if you want to win the whole pot, you must win both the high and the low halves of the pot. This is called “scooping.”
One of the downsides to playing Omaha poker is that it’s not available in many casinos. Most brick-and-mortar casinos will only run Hold’em, and even if they do allow Omaha, it can be hard to find other players who are willing to play. Luckily, plenty of online casinos run real money Omaha games around the clock, such as Bovada, Bodog, ACR, GG Poker, and many more.
If you want to join the fun, you’ll need to create your own online casino account. Luckily, it’s easy to do, and it often just takes a couple of minutes to get your account up and running. We’ve created a handy guide to help you through the process.
It’s just that easy!
Now that you’ve created your account and are ready to play Omaha poker online, you need to make your first deposit. Many online poker sites have generous bonuses that give you even more bang for your buck, so shop around before you commit to depositing. Once you’re ready to deposit, follow these simple instructions.
Your deposit will often be available instantly, so you don’t have to wait around to start playing.
Some of the best online poker sites will have a wide variety of Omaha poker games to play, ranging from Omaha cash games, Omaha tournaments, and even Omaha Sit & Gos. Some sites even have other poker variants, such as Omaha, Short Deck, Stud, and more! If you want to learn how to play those games, check out our other articles on poker rules.
The popularity of Omaha has risen significantly over the years, and in the eyes of many, it is the second biggest game in the poker world. However, for newer players, the sheer number of hand combinations possible in the game can be a little daunting, and while it is true that it will take a lot longer to master than Texas Hold’em, playing the game can be just as much fun.
Jackpot! You’ve flopped a winning hand! This article has surely added some extra chips to your stack. Tune in for more valuable insights and pro-level strategies!
Looks like you’ve been dealt a bad beat. We’ll shuffle the deck and try again.
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When you reach a showdown, you must use two cards from your hand and three from the board. You cannot use all four cards from your hand.
Players start with four cards in Omaha poker.
The best hand you can make in Omaha poker is a royal flush.
The profitability of each game depends on your skill level, so it’s certainly possible for Omaha to be more profitable than Hold’em. Some players have switched to Omaha as the game isn’t as solved, which means there’s arguably more potential for making money.
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