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The Omaha poker variant descended from the popular Texas Hold'em version of the game. Rumors and hearsay have it that Omaha Hold'em was played for the first time at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas. Initially, the game was called “Nugget Hold'em” but this name changed to Omaha Hold'em when the game became more international Today, it is available in a wide range of casinos, both online and offline. The possibilities at Omaha are far greater compared to Texas Hold'em, which enhances the thrill and gaming experience. So, it shouldn’t come as any great surprise that the game quickly caught on. It is now a staple game in many gambling facilities. Let’s learn a little bit more about how to play it and what strategies to use…
What is Omaha Poker and how is it different?
There’s not a huge distinction between Omaha and Texas Hold'em at first glance. However, the few changes that are present have a large impact on the strategic aspect of the game. The main difference is that, in Texas Hold'em, you get two pocket cards. Whereas, in Omaha Poker, you receive four pocket cards. With these, you try to form a good poker hand with the help of the five community cards that are laid out face-up on the table. So in total, you can make use of up to nine cards to build the best possible hand. In Texas Hold'em, you have a maximum of seven cards. In Omaha, a card combination between board and pocket cards must always include exactly two pocket cards. It is not possible to use three or all four cards from your hands.
Currently, a large portion of Texas Hold'em poker players are switching to Omaha. This is because the Texas Hold'em variant has become quite popular in recent years, making the poker rooms full or busy. As a result, the average player’s ability has risen dramatically, making it harder to win. The nice thing about Omaha is that it has almost the same rules as Texas Hold'em, making it fairly easy for a novice to pick up. As already mentioned, in Omaha Poker, you receive twice the amount of hole cards. This means that all participants at the table have a higher chance of a good card combination compared to Texas Hold'em. This is something you should keep in mind as a beginner, as the relative strength of each hand is always shifting.
How to play – Omaha Poker rules
The rules of the game are very similar to Texas Hold'em. So, for many players, it will be quite easy to learn how to play Omaha Poker. The big difference is that each player receives twice the amount of hole cards. This makes the game much more dynamic while also making it way more difficult to calculate odds and pot odds. But let’s have a look at the Omaha Poker rules:
Omaha Poker is played with a single deck of 52 cards. Each player receives four face-down personal cards. During the so-called Flop, Turn and River, a total of five community cards are revealed. Any player can access these cards to make the best possible hand. The rule is simply to use two of the four personal cards, in combination with three of the five community cards. The person with the best hand wins the pot in the end.
At the start of each round, the small blind and the big blind must be placed. The first player after the dealer is the small blind (a mandatory bet) and the player behind it posts the big blind (usually double the amount of the small blind). Then, the cards are dealt and the first betting round begins…
It’s your call
The first player after the big blind must now decide whether to call, raise or fold. If the player wants to continue playing, he or she must bet at least the size of the big blind. This is known as a call. It is also possible to raise. In that case, the bet will be increased. And, in case of a bad hand, the player can also decide to fold. Each player must now decide, one by one, whether he or she wants to call, raise or fold. Eventually, we come to the big blind, which concerns the last player at the table. When no one has raised, the big blind has two options: check and raise. In fact, the big blind can also fold, but that would be a shame as they can see the flop “for free”.
After the first round of betting has ended, the flop is dealt. These are the first three community cards. Another betting round follows. It starts with the first person after the dealer. There are two options: bet or check. When checking, all subsequent players can also check. But, when one person places a bet, the options change to call, raise or fold. Once everyone has chosen their moves, the turn (community) card is revealed. Another round of betting follows once again. Finally, the last community card is played: the river. This leads to the final betting round. If there are more players in the game at the end of the betting round, a showdown follows: the cards are placed face-up on the table and the player with the best hand wins the pot.
Omaha Poker hand rankings
- Royal Flush – Five cards in a sequence starting with an ace in the same suit
- Straight Flush – Five cards in a sequence, all in the same suit
- Four of a Kind – Four cards of the same rank
- Full House – Three of a kind with a pair
- Flush – Any five cards of the same suit, but not in a sequence
- Straight – Five cards in a sequence, but not of the same suit
- Three of a Kind – Three cards of the same rank
- Two Pair – Two different pairs
- Pair – Two cards of the same rank
- High Card – When none of the above can be made, the highest card counts
Omaha Poker strategies and other helpful tips
Omaha Poker strategy is not easy to master. We could fill several books about the topic. Unfortunately, this would go beyond the scope of this article. But we would like to introduce some simple ideas that are especially helpful for players transitioning over from Texas Hold’em.
GoodLuckMate’s best tips for playing Omaha Poker:
- Be careful about the number of hands you are playing. Everything seems to have some equity, but this is of course also true for the hands of all other players.
- A pair of aces isn’t as strong as in traditional Hold’em, so don’t overplay your hand.
- Bluffing occurs less frequently compared to most other Poker games. But it’s worth keeping your history with other players and the general table dynamics in mind.
- Try to draw to the nuts and don’t overplay marginal hands like two pairs or sets.
Play Omaha Poker at online casinos
Omaha Poker casinos are quite common these days. Nearly every poker site offers this game in one form or another. You can play Omaha Poker online for real money in different versions. This includes standard Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo, and Pot Limit Omaha (PLO). Each of these variants follows a slightly different rule set – so make sure you are joining the correct table. If you are playing the game for the first time, it is recommended to try free Omaha Poker online. Many poker sites offer play money versions of this game where you can compete against real players without having to risk any money. Freeroll tournaments are also a great opportunity to test your skill where you have a chance of winning real cash without having to make a deposit.