As far as the masses are concerned, there’s no greater online or land-based card game than Texas Hold ‘em. A growing number of serious players and professionals would disagree, however, which explains why Omaha is offered at most gaming establishments.
The game of Omaha Hold ‘em has been around for decades, but it’s seen a rise in popularity since the turn of the century. Some of this newfound attention is due to the fact that a decent number of Texas Hold ‘em players get bored and start looking for alternatives, but it’s got just as much to do with the deceptive simplicity of the game.
Reading hands and opponents is critical in Texas Hold ‘em, but Omaha is more about math and your own cards. Once you’ve learned the basics of the game and committed the odds to memory, most of your decisions are automatic. Cerebral types find this a refreshing change of pace, and it doesn’t hurt that a lot of online Omaha players are just short of awful – those of you looking for some easy money should consider signing up at some of these top Omaha poker sites.
How to Play Omaha Poker
The rules of most Omaha games are essentially the same, but the betting structure can vary a great deal. Before we look at specifics, let’s take a moment to review the basic types of Omaha that you will find at the best Omaha poker websites in the world (listed above).
- No Limit Omaha – During this version of the game, the player has the option of betting any or all of their chips, although the minimum wager is equal to the big blind. There are no limits placed on the number of raises per betting round, but the amount of a raise must always be as much as previous bets or raises within the round.
- Pot Limit Omaha – This is the most popular form on online Omaha. The player may wager up to the amount in the pot on a single bet, but all wagers must be at least the size of the big blind. Raises must match the size of all previous wagers or raises within the round.
- Fixed Limit Omaha – Each game and round of betting must adhere to specific limits. Bets and raises are limited to the size of the big blind in the pre-flop and flop rounds, while they’re double the big blind in the turn and river rounds. Players are limited to four wagers in each round, which include a bet, raise, re-raise, and final raise.
- Omaha Hi/Low – In this version of the game, the pot is split between the highest (strongest) and lowest (weakest) hands. It’s possible for a player to have both hands, allowing them to win the entire pot.
In many ways, Omaha functions just like Texas Hold ‘em. For example, the dealer button passes clockwise around the table after each turn, and two players must post forced bets at the beginning of each hand. These are known as the big blind and small blind. The small blind is seated immediately to the dealer’s left, while the big blind is to the left of the small blind.
When you play No Limit and Pot Limit Omaha online, the size of the blinds is often included in the title of the game. For example, a $2/$4 games indicates that the small blind is $2 and the big blind is $4.
Once the standard 52-card deck has been shuffled by the dealer and the blinds have been taken care, the game commences. Each player at the table receives four face-down (or “hole”) cards. This is followed by a round of betting, starting with the player to the immediate left of the big blind. This player must decide whether to match the big blind, raise it, or fold.
Once all wagers are complete in the first round of betting, the flop is placed on the board by the dealer. The flop consists of three face-up community cards. Once this occurs, another round of betting begins with the player to the immediate left of the dealer (which continues for the rest of the hand). Unlike the pre-flop round, the big blind is not considered live, so the player does not have to match this amount on their first wager.
Prior to the flop, turn, and river being dealt onto the board in live games, the dealer must burn the top card of the deck. “Burning” the card means discarding it face-down, and this tradition was originally created to prevent players from taking advantage of any sort of card marking. Online games do not hold to this practice, as there’s no danger of virtual cards being marked.
After betting on the flop has finished, the dealer places another community card on the board. This is referred to as the “turn,” and it’s followed by another round of betting.
Next up is the “river” card, which is the fifth and final community card available to players. A final round of betting then takes place.
If only one player remains at any point, then the current game is considered over and the final player collects the entire pot. If two or more players remain after the final round of betting, then the game moves into the showdown phase.
If a showdown occurs, all remaining players attempt to make the best possible five-card hand using their hole cards and community cards. Exactly two hole cards must be used, as well as exactly three community cards. The last person to bet is the first to reveal their hand, and this continues clockwise around the table. The player with the best poker hand wins the pot, although it’s divided evenly in the case of a tie.
Once the game has concluded, the dealer button moves clockwise. The players responsible for the big and small blinds put their chips into the pot, and another game begins.
Winning Tips for Omaha
If Omaha sounds like your kind of game, then you’ll want to learn as much as possible about it before you dive in. In this section, I’ve compiled some basic tips that are meant to start your Omaha career on a positive note (the piece of advice that applies to all forms of poker is to play at the best Omaha poker sites so that you’ll have top-quality game selection, promotions and software).
- Stick to Your Bankroll – While it may be tempting to enter games with larger stakes, the smart player begins with less expensive contests and slowly builds their bankroll over time.
- Play for the Nut – Since players are holding four hole cards, the winning hand is usually better than what you would find in Texas Hold ‘em. Two pair or trips are rarely going to get the job done, so always go for a nut hand.
- This is Not Texas Hold ‘em – Some players have a hard time distinguishing the two games due to their similarities, but don’t make this mistake. A marginal hand in Texas Hold’em that might limp to a win is almost always doomed to fail in Omaha.
- Look at All Possible Combinations – While players are dealt four hole cards, there’s still the temptation to only focus on the two highest options. Don’t make this mistake. Give each hole card equal consideration by calculating the odds.
- Stick to the Odds – Forget about relying on gut instincts or intuition. In Omaha, math is king. Learn the odds and stick to them religiously.