Different Omaha Poker Games and Variations
Most online poker sites these days offer several different Omaha poker variations for their players. The basic rules are the same across these forms of Omaha but the structure of each game has been tweaked a little to cater to different types of players. The most common forms of Omaha poker you’ll find online include:
- Omaha Hi
- Omaha Hi/Lo a.k.a. Eight or Better a.k.a. Omaha 8/b
- Omaha Tournaments
Each version of Omaha listed above can be played in either one of the following formats:
- Pot Limit Omaha
- Fixed Limit Omaha
Omaha Hi is the basic form of Omaha that most people think of when they hear the word “Omaha.” The object of Omaha Hi is to win the pot by getting the highest possible 5 card poker hand. In Omaha Hi, you may use any two of your hole cards (out of the four you are dealt) in combination with any three of the community cards to create your final hand.
If you are a recent convert from Texas Holdem, there is one important thing you will want to keep in mind regarding Omaha Hi: you must use exactly two of your hole cards when making a hand in Omaha. This changes things because you can’t just have a single card and use that in combination with four cards on the board to make your hand.
For example, if you are playing Omaha and the board is showing five diamonds, you would still need to have two diamonds in your hand to have a flush. You can’t just “play the board” like you can in Texas Holdem.
Omaha Hi-Lo is also sometimes called Omaha Eight or Better and Omaha 8/b but it’s all the same game. Omaha Hi-Lo is played with the same rules as regular Omaha all the way up to the showdown. In Omaha Hi-Lo, there can be two winning hands each round - the high hand and the low hand. Each hand gets half the pot, but the same player can win both halves if he has both the best high hand and the best low hand.
In order to qualify for a low hand, the hand must contain five unpaired cards that are all ranked 8 or lower. The worst low hand in 8-7-6-5-4 and the bet low hand is “the wheel,” 5-4-3-2-A. Sometimes no low hand is possible because the board only contains high cards. In that case, the high hand simply wins the entire pot.
Straights and flushes do not count against you in Omaha Hi-Lo. The only thing you have to worry about is making sure your low hand doesn’t contain any pairs. Additionally, note that you can use two cards to make your high hand and two different cards to make your low hand. Or, if you catch a hand like A-2-3-4-5, it can count as both at the same time.
Omaha tournaments are played in the same way as Texas Holdem tournaments. Each player begins the tournament with a set number of chips and then the game is played until one player has all the chips. The blind levels start out relatively small compared to the stack sizes but the blinds increase at regular intervals. As the blinds grow larger and put more pressure on the players, more and more players get eliminated until only one person is left standing.
Omaha tournaments can be played in both the Omaha Hi and the 8 or Better version and they can be played as fixed limit or pot limit. Pot limit is the most common format for Omaha Hi tournaments and fixed limit is usually used for Omaha 8/b tournaments.
Also, Omaha tournaments can be held as large, multi-table events are they can be held in the sit-and-go format. The large tournaments are scheduled in advance while the sit-and-go tournaments simply remain open for registration until a certain number of players (usually 9 or 10) join the table.
Pot Limit Omaha
Pot limit is the most common way Omaha is played. The term pot-limit Omaha (PLO) is used to describe this format. Pot limit is similar to no-limit in that there aren’t fixed betting limits. The one difference is that bets and raises in pot limit are capped at the current size of the pot.
Players can still get all-in in pot limit, but it takes a few more bets to do so. If one player bets and another raises, the first player can re-raise and usually get most of his stack in the middle. So although there is a cap on the betting in pot limit, it can easily be overcome.
Fixed Limit Omaha
Fixed limit is usually reserved for Omaha Hi-Lo but not always. In fixed limit, the bets are set at a certain size and then the players may only bet in increments of that size. For example, in $5/$10 Omaha 8/b, the players can only bet and raise in increments of $5 and $10. The lower betting limit is used before the flop and on the flop and the higher betting limit is used on the turn and river.
Omaha Hi-Lo is usually played in the fixed limit format because hand values change drastically with each additional community card. What might look like a strong hand before the flop can turn into junk as soon as the flop is dealt. If Omaha Hi-Lo was played in the no-limit format, players could easily push all-in and turn every hand into a gamble.