Overview

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 theLas 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.

Betting Stages

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.

Pre-Flop 

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-

  • Fold: To fold means to surrender their hand.
  • Call: To call means that they will match the amount of the previous bet.
  • Raise: Raising means increasing the previous bet.

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 Flop 

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 

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.

River

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.

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:

  • Royal Flush – A ace-high straight flush. This means all of the cards are of the same suit. For example – A-K–Q-J-10 of hearts.
  • Straight Flush – Five cards of the same suit in order. For example – 8,7,6,5,4 of spades.
  • Four of a Kind – This one is self-explanatory. Players need to get four cards of the same kind. For example – four 10s.
  • Full House – This is a hand that contains three of one kind of card and two of another. For example – K-K-K-4-4.
  • Flush – A standard flush is five cards of the same suit. Example – 2-4-8-Q-K of diamonds.
  • Straight – Five cards in numerical order. Example – 3-4-5-6-7.
  • Three of a Kind – This hand features three matching cards – for example, three Kings.
  • Two Pair – Once again, this one is easy to understand. This hand contains two pairs of cards. For example – K-K-9-9
  • Pair – A pair of matching cards. For example – Q-Q.
  • High Card – This is when the winner comes down to the hand with the highest card.

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.

Betting Limits

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

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

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.

No Limit

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.

Variations of the Omaha Poker

Players can find two main variations of Omaha Poker at most online and physical casinos and poker rooms.

Omaha Hi

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.

Omaha Hi/Lo 

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.

Summary

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.