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How to Play Omaha

Play Pot Limit Omaha

How to Play Omaha Poker

Omaha Poker Basics

by Halli Pinson
How to Play Omaha Poker

Omaha Poker Basics

Omaha PokerOmaha is a game that resembles Texas Hold'em but is fundamentally different in several ways. If you are used to playing Hold'em, learning how to play Omaha poker games should come fairly easy as soon as you learn a few basic Omaha rules. Like Hold'em, the object of Omaha is to make the best five card hand, using community cards (shared with other players) and hole cards (dealt face down to each individual player). Unlike Hold'em, each player is dealt four hole cards instead of two. When completing their five card hand in Omaha, a player is forced to use exactly two of their four hole cards and three of the five shared community cards. For example, if a player holds Ac 6c 4c 9d and the board is 7c 2h 2c 6s As, they would not have a flush because there are only two clubs on the board, and they are required to use three from the board. This is probably the most important lesson a Hold'em player must learn before playing Omaha, and forgetting that you MUST use two (and only two) hole cards could be costly and embarrassing.

There are two types of Omaha: High Only and Hi/Lo Split. Omaha High is most commonly played as a Pot-Limit game (known as PLO), and sometimes played as No-Limit. In this variation of Omaha, the object of the game is to make the highest five card hand according to the normal hand rankings (with a Royal Flush being the best hand possible). Learning how to play Omaha Hi/Lo (also known as Omaha Eight or Better) might be a little trickier, because players are looking for both high hands and low hands. It is important to note that players are only able to make a low hand if their five card hand consists of each card being no higher than an eight. Remembering that you must use exactly two hole cards and three community cards to complete your hand, there must be three cards that are an eight or lower on the board in order for there to be a qualifying low hand. If there is no qualifying low, the players then compete for only a high hand. When playing a low hand, straights and flushes are ignored, and an ace may be used as high or low, making the best low hand A2345 (commonly referred to as a "wheel"). Omaha Hi/Lo is a split pot game, meaning that there can be more than one winner in each hand, in which case the players split (or “chop”) the pot. When two players share the same high or low hand, they are awarded a quarter of the pot (commonly referred to as "getting quartered"). The most powerful hand a player can hold in Omaha Hi/Lo is one that qualifies as both a high and a low hand. Because you receive four hole cards in Omaha, you may use two cards to create a high hand and two cards for low hand. When a player wins the entire pot by either having the best high and low hand or the best high hand (when there is no qualifying low) it is called "scooping the pot."

In a full Omaha game, there will usually be nine or ten players at the table. A small round puck, called the dealer button, is placed in front of one player and rotated clockwise after the completion of each hand. The player seated to the immediate left of the button is forced to post a bet called the small blind, and the person to their immediate left is required to post the big blind. The small blind is typically half the size of the big blind, and the big blind is usually equal to the small bet (this refers to a fixed limit game in which there are small and big bets; when playing Pot-Limit or No-Limit Omaha, the size of the blinds largely determines the size of the game, whereas the reverse is true in Limit Omaha).

Once the blinds are posted, the game begins when each player is dealt four cards face down. Each player acts on their hand, beginning with the player seated to the immediate left of the big blind, and continuing clockwise. A player has the option to call (putting in an amount equivalent to the big blind), raise or fold. After the first player acts, each player acting after them has the same options, with the additional options of reraising a player who has raised in front of them, or folding their hand. When the action reaches the small blind, this player has the same options but it should be noted that if they chose to fold, they forfeit the amount already posted before the cards were dealt. The player seated in the big blind has the option to check (pass on the action) if there has been no raise, make a raise, or fold if there has been a raise in front of him (and also forfeiting their blind).

After the preflop action is complete, three community cards (known as the Flop) are dealt face up in the middle of the table. Another round of betting begins with the first participating player to the left of the button. Each player has the option of checking (passing on the action and therefore not putting any additional chips into the pot) or betting. In a Fixed Limit game, the bet following the flop is a "small bet" which is typically twice the amount of the big blind. In Pot Limit Omaha, each bet can range from the size of the big blind to the size of the total pot. The action continues clockwise, and each player has the same options as the first, again with the additional options of reraising or folding. Once the postflop betting round is over, another community card is dealt face up (called the Turn or Fourth Street). Another round of betting ensues, this time with the amount doubling in a fixed limit game (called a "big bet"). Finally, one more community card is dealt face up (called the River or Fifth Street). A final betting round is completed (with the same "big bet" amounts in a fixed limit game) and the pot is finally awarded to the player (or players) who possess the best hand at showdown. The dealer button is moved clockwise and the next hand begins.

It is said that Omaha was first spread at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas, after poker professional Robert Turner popularized the game there in 1982. It was originally known as “Nugget Hold’em", but evolved to Omaha after the game became a staple in poker rooms around the world. Today, it isn’t hard to find a variation of the game being played anywhere, and Pot-Limit Omaha is becoming more popular than ever before. Because of the amount of action the game often creates, Omaha is said to be “the new Hold’em.”

Now that you have an idea about how to play Omaha poker games, there are plenty of Omaha strategy articles on Poker-Vibe that can help you maximize your profits at the tables.

Also see: Transitioning from Holdem to Omaha and Omaha Hi/Lo Hand Selection

Omaha Hi Low Rules

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(c) Shirley Rosario

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