Omaha Poker Overview
Despite its young age, the exact history of Omaha poker is largely unknown. We don’t even know where the name of the game came from, because Omaha poker isn’t even from Omaha! The game closely resembles Texas Holdem and its history is even shorter than that of Texas Holdem’s, so we can safely assume that Omaha was born some time after Texas Holdem.
It’s entirely possible that some ancient root of Omaha actually did originate in Omaha, Nebraska but it’s hard telling. The history of poker has always been a difficult one to trace because anti-poker laws have repeatedly pushed the game underground. It’s not hard to find a poker game now days but even so, the game hasn’t achieved the mainstream status as other hobbies of equal popularity.
What we do know for sure is that Omaha Poker arrived in Las Vegas card rooms in 1982 and it was a big hit because people were already familiar with Texas Holdem. Instead of getting just two cards, everyone now got to play with 4 cards, which was even better. The game was recognized for creating more action and bigger pots than Texas Holdem so it quickly gained a foothold in the poker world.
Omaha poker never did overtake Texas Holdem in popularity but it has always remained a close second. It’s not hard to imagine Omaha becoming even more popular in the future as more and more people play poker online. All the major poker sites offer Omaha poker now so whenever people feel like taking a break from Texas Holdem, Omaha is right there waiting.
If you would like to learn about the different types or variatons of Omaha, we suggest checking out our Omaha Poker Variations setion.
How to Play
Omaha Poker is played just like Texas Holdem except for the additional two hole cards that are dealt to each player. Also, players must use exactly two of their hole cards and three of the community cards when making their hands in Omaha poker. Without that rule, Omaha hands would become too powerful and the game would basically just turn into a big crapshoot.
The two card requirement rule often confuses people who are familiar with Texas Holdem. In Omaha, you can’t play the board and must always use two of your hole cards to make your hand. This means that even if there are five hearts on the board, you would still need to have two hearts in your hand to have a flush.
Other than that, Omaha poker is played with the same basic rules set up as Texas Holdem. Each hand in Omaha can be divided up into four distinct parts: the preflop stage, the flop, the turn and the river.
Before any cards are dealt, the two players to the left of the dealer must pay the blinds. The first player to the left of the dealer must pay the small blind, and the person two seats to the left of the dealer must pay the big blind. The small blind is equal to half the size of the lower betting limit and the big blind is equal to one small bet.
If the game is using a full time dealer, a small disc called the “dealer’s button” is placed in front of the dealer who would have been dealing otherwise. This button moves one spot to the left every hand. In this manner, every player at the table will take turns paying the blinds.
Once the blinds have been paid, the dealer gives each player four cards face down, one at a time, beginning with the player to his left. After all the cards have been dealt, the first round of betting may begin.
The first betting round begins with the first player to the left of the big blind. This person has the option to call the minimum bet, fold or raise. After that player acts, the betting continues clockwise around the table.
When the betting gets to the players who paid the blinds, those players may count the blinds they have already paid as a part of their current bets. For example, if there was no raise before the flop, the small blind would only half to pay half of a small bet to stay in and the big blind wouldn’t have to pay anything additional to stay in. Of course, the blinds still have the option to raise.
After the first betting round is finished, the dealer deals three cards face up in the middle of the table. These cards are called the “flop” and they can be used by any of the players in combination with their hole cards to create their hands.
The deal of the flop is followed by another round of betting. This round begins with the first player to the left of the dealer. This player can make a bet, check or fold. After that player acts, the betting continues clockwise around the table.
One community card is dealt face up on the table next to the flop. This is followed by another round of betting that begins with the first player to the left of the dealer. If this game is being played in fixed-limit format, all bets would now be made in increments of the upper betting limit.
A final community card is dealt face up on the table next to the turn card. This is followed by one more round of betting just like the last round. Once this round is finished, the remaining players have a showdown. The players combine two of their hole cards with three of the community cards to create the best 5 card poker hand possible. The player with the best hand wins the pot.
Omaha Poker looks similar to Texas Holdem on the outside but the strategy for both poker games are quite different. Most people who play Omaha poker have already played Texas Holdem so this basic strategy guide will address the issues that recent converts from Texas Holdem are likely to encounter.
Play For The Nuts
It’s been said a million times but it bears repeating again: Omaha poker is a game of the nuts. Each player has four cards which can be arranged in up to 6 different combinations. That means that at a game of just six players, you are playing against 36 different poker hands.
By the time a hand gets down to a showdown, the nuts (or something close to the nuts) are out there somewhere almost every time. If there’s a possible flush on the board, it wouldn’t be a good idea to call any bets if you don’t have the Ace high flush. If the board is paired, you should have a full house before you think about calling any bets.
Players who are used to Texas Holdem get into all kinds of trouble with hands like top pair, two pair and three of a kind. Those are great hands in Texas Holdem but they usually need to improve to win the pot in Omaha. They aren’t junk hands by any means, but they definitely can’t be played the same way in Omaha as they are in Texas Holdem.
In Omaha, you should choose starting hands in which all 6 combinations of cards work well together. For example, a hand like AK27 only contains one good hand: AK. Those hands just won’t hit something often enough to make them worth playing.
The hands you should look for in Omaha are ones that contain high cards, connected cards and suited cards. A hand like TJQK is awesome in Omaha because it has so many possibilities. Other good hands are the ones in which there are two big pairs, such as AAKK and KKQQ. No matter how you arrange any of the cards in these hands, they create strong hands.
Every once in a while, you’ll get a cool looking hand like AAAK but it’s actually worthless. You should never play starting hands that contain 3 or 4 of the same card. There’s no point in doing so because you can only use two of the cards in your hand. The additional cards just waste your outs and make it less likely you’ll hit something strong.
Draws Are Different
Draws can be a lot more powerful in Omaha than in Texas Holdem. Some draws in Omaha are actually favorites over hands like three of a kind. If you have a hand like 579T on a 68J board, there are 20 different cards that can give you a straight.
Draws can also be weaker in Omaha than in Texas Holdem. If you have a flush draw but it’s not to the best possible flush, that draw isn’t worth a single dollar. The problem with non-nut draws is that someone else either already has that draw or you’ll scare away anyone who doesn’t have the nuts. In any case, you won’t get paid if you hit.
Finding a Great Omaha Poker Site
The first thing you should look for when finding a poker site for your Omaha needs is reputation. You should only play at poker sites that have been in existence for a long time and have a solid reputation. There’s just no need to risk your money at an unknown poker site when there are dozens of high quality poker sites out there competing for your business. We have rated the best Omaha Poker Sites to help you get started.
Beyond the obvious safety concerns, you’ll also want to play at an established poker site to make sure you’re able to find plenty of Omaha tables to play at. The largest poker sites have hundreds of thousands of players online at a time and finding Omaha games is never a problem. Omaha still isn’t as popular as Texas Holdem so if you play at a small, unknown site, you’ll likely have problems finding games.