While it isn’t as popular as Texas Holdem it shares many of the same aspects of the game. Whether it is home poker or at the casino, Omaha has been played for a long time. With the online poker phenomenon today, Omaha continues to be an extremely popular version of poker. Some casinos even play Omaha and holdem at the same table, usually going back and forth from game to game on a predetermined time interval (usually ½ hour for each game).
There are definite similarities between Texas holdem and Omaha with respect to betting structure, flop, turn, river, antes, and rank of hands – the play of the game and basic strategies that surround it are also the same. Except, in Omaha a player receives four hole cards (as opposed to 2 in holdem), and must use 2 of their hole cards with any 3 of the community cards to make the best poker hand.
Like all poker games, 50% is knowledge and 50% is luck and the way that the cards fall. We don’t guarantee you’ll be able to walk into your nearest casino and walk out a couple hours later with your pockets full of money after reading this tutorial, but it should help build a good base of knowledge of Omaha. If you wish to learn more on this poker game, check out the resources and books listed on the final page.
So without further ado, let’s delve into Omaha poker.
Omaha: Overview & Rules
Once you have a basic grasp of poker Omaha isn’t a tough game to learn…but like all versions of poker, it’s a difficult game to master. Quite often many professional players who specialize in Texas Holdem also specialize in Omaha, due to the similarities in many aspects of the game. For beginner players familiar with holdem, a different tactic needs to be utilized when playing Omaha.
The 60-second overview of Omaha:
- The small and big blind post their ante, then 4 cards are dealt face down to each player, followed by a round of betting.
- Just like holdem there is a flop with three community cards, more betting ensues
- Another card is added to the community cards called the turn, another round of betting ensues
- A final up card is dealt face up which is called the river, the last round of betting ensues
- Any players left must use two of their hole cards and three from the board to make their best 5-card poker hand.
- Best 5-card poker hand wins the pot.
In depth overview:
Like all poker games, Omaha starts with your standard deck of 52 cards. The dealer then deals every player four cards face down (as opposed to Texas holdem where each player has two down cards). Everything else after that is exactly the same as holdem, there is a flop, a turn and river. The main difference between holdem and Omaha is that in Omaha, a player absolutely must use 2 out of their 4 hole cards, and three out five community cards on the board. Omaha HAND = players 2 hole cards + 3 cards on the board. The player with the strongest poker hand wins.
From the beginning
The big blind sets the precedent of the minimum amount for all other players to match in order to continue in play (the small blind antes half the amount of the BB). If any player raises the amount of the BB, it sets a new amount for any player match in order to continue.
After the players have matched any bets, checked or folded, the dealer then places three cards face up on the board or what is called the flop. These are community cards; all active players get the opportunity to use them.
The first player to the left of the dealer button (small blind) has the option to bet or check. If they check the action moves clockwise. If a bet is placed any player who wishes to continue must match the bet. If the bet is raised, any players who wish to continue must match the amount of the raise. The betting always rotates clockwise.
Once everyone has had a chance to check, bet, or fold the dealer then deals the fourth card face up on the board. This card is called the turn. Betting ensues and starts directly one person to the left of the dealer button.
Once everyone has had a chance to check, bet, or fold the dealer then deals the last and final community card face up on the board. This card is called the river. Betting starts directly one person to the left of the dealer button.
Any active players remaining will bet against each other. If there is a showdown the player with the best 5-card poker hand wins. They must make this hand using exactly 2 of their hole cards with exactly 3 of the community cards. No more, or no less than this amount. In holdem a player may only need one of their two hole cards to make the best hand, and in some cases they can just play the cards on the board. This is the main difference between Omaha and holdem.