Omaha poker is the second most popular form of poker worldwide. While very similar to Texas Hold’em, there are a few unique differences that helps make the game a high action game. In this article, we will go over Omaha rules and its variants.
Basic Rules and Concepts
At first glance, Omaha poker looks very similar to Texas Hold’em, but with a couple of important differences. First, each player receives four hole cards in Omaha as opposed to two in Texas Hold’em. Of these cards, players are only allowed to use two of them for their final hand.
After the initial deal Omaha is dealt out the same way as Texas Hold’em with community cards dealt, also known as the flop, turn, and river. The other main difference between Omaha and Hold’em comes at showdown. Players will make their best five card hand using three community cards and two in their hand.
For example, if you are dealt Ac-Kh-8c-10h and the board reads 10c-8d-5c-3c-Kd, you have an ace high flush using the Ac-8c in your hand and the 10c-5c-3c on the board. Remember that in Omaha poker you must use two cards in your hand and three on the board. If you are dealt the same hand and the board runs out 10c-Qc-Kc-Jc-2d, you have an ace-high flush with Ac-8c and using Kc-Qc-Jc.
With four hole cards instead of two, players have many more potential hand possibilities than in Hold’em games. In addition, players draw a lot more in Omaha than in Hold’em. All Omaha games use the same basic rules as listed above. With the exception of Omaha Hi-Lo, the main difference is the betting structure. Here are the basic variants of Omaha.
Pot Limit Omaha
Pot-Limit Omaha is the most common form of Omaha poker found in casinos. The basic rules of the game are the same as listed above, but with a pot-limit betting structure. In pot-limit games, players can only bet up to the size of the pot at any time.
For example, if on the flop the pot is at $25, then a play may bet any amount from the big blind to $25. This is called betting the pot. If a player wanted to raise that bet, they can now bet up to $50, the new size of the pot. As you can see, this can add up quick.
Omaha Hi/Lo aka Omaha/8
Omaha Hi/Lo, also known as Omaha/8 or Omaha8 or Better, is the only Omaha poker game with extra rules. Omaha 8 or Better is a split pot game with the high hand taking half the pot and the best qualifying low hand taking the other half.
A qualifying low hand is a hand with five cards eight and under. The lowest hand is a wheel, or an A-2-3-4-5 straight. In the case that more than one player happens to make either the high or low half of the pot, that half of the pot is split. A player that ties for just one half of the pot is considered to have been quartered since they only won 25% of the pot.
There are a few extra considerations when making a low hand. First, a player does not have to use the same two cards in their hand to make both a high and low hand. For example, if you hold A-2-K-Q and the board runs out 4-5-8-K-K, you can use A-K for to make K-K-K-A-8 for high and then use A-2 for low for A-2-4-5-8. Also, some low hands can also play high as well like the wheel or a low flush. If you happen to be able to win both the high and low half of the pot, you are considered to have scooped the pot.
Omaha Hi/Lo can be found in either fixed limit or pot-limit formats. Fixed limit games are more likely to be found in live cash games with pot-limit more frequently found in tournaments and online.
Limit Omaha is also known as Limit Omaha High. This game is played the same as Pot-Limit Omaha but with the exception of fixed limit betting. For those unfamiliar with fixed limit betting, that means that bets and raises pre-flop and on the flop are in the size of the big blind and bets and raises on the turn and river are twice the big blind.
Limit Omaha games are harder to find based on the popularity of Pot-Limit Omaha games. You will find a few cash games and tournaments online at sites like Partypoker, but live Limit Omaha is somewhat scarce.
The above Omaha rules should give you a basic understanding of how the games operate. Omaha poker lends itself to be an action game as players have many more potential starting combinations over Hold’em. As such, there is more variance in the game than in Hold’em. If you are a player that likes games with plenty of action, consider taking up Omaha poker. Good luck at the tables.
By: James Guill