After mastering the fundamentals of Texas Hold’em Poker, Omaha poker is very often the next step to developing their gameplay for many online poker players.
Before jumping head over heels onto the next stage of your poker journey, let’s see how to play Omaha Poker and the different variants of the game.
Introduction to Omaha Poker
If you know Texas Hold’em inside out, you won’t have any difficulty adapting to Omaha Poker, as it derives from Texas Hold’em Poker. The main difference when you play Omaha Poker is the number of cards dealt.
Each Omaha player is dealt four hole cards instead of the usual two private cards. Five community cards are dealt face-up in the middle of the poker table, the so-called board.
In Omaha Poker games, all players use three of the board cards together with two of their hole cards, instead of only one hole card, to make the best five-card poker hand, according to the standard poker hand rankings.
Basic Omaha Poker Rules
You’ll need a 52-card deck of French cards, the dealer button, two blinds buttons, and poker chips when you play Omaha poker. To get into an Omaha poker game, this poker variant requires two to ten players.
According to the Omaha poker rules, you’ll be facing the same sequence of betting rounds per hand as in Texas Holdem poker:
- The Preflop (the first betting round)
- The Flop (the second betting round)
- The Turn (the third betting round)
- The River (the final betting round)
- The Showdown
1. Preflop Betting Round
The players sitting at the Big Blind (BB) and the Small Blind (SB) place their bets in the first betting round. Then, each player gets dealt four cards, face down.
The first betting round begins after all the hole cards are dealt. The first one to act is the player to the left of the Big Blind. After that, the betting proceeds clockwise until it reaches the Big Blind.
All players at the table have the following actions to choose from:
- Call: Place a bet equal to the size of the Big Blind or to the highest bet placed in case another player decides to raise.
- Raise: Increase the bet.
- Fold: Drop out of the game round by giving back the cards.
2. Flop Betting Round
The dealer places three face-up cards in the middle of the poker table in the second round. Two more cards are going to follow in the upcoming rounds. As soon as the three cards are dealt, the flop betting round begins with the same actions as the previous round.
3. The Turn
An additional community card is dealt on the board. All the players who haven’t folded yet, enter a new betting round with the same actions to choose from as in the previous round.
4. The River
The dealer deals the last/final community card, the River card, face-up on the table, and a new betting round follows for the remaining players. Should there be two or more active players, the action continues to the Showdown final round.
5. The Showdown
According to the poker hand rankings, all remaining active players must use two of their hole cards combined with any of the five community cards to make a five-card poker hand.
The player with the highest poker hand wins the entire pot.
Key Differences in Omaha Poker
The basic rules in Omaha Poker remain the same for the following poker games: Pot Limit, No Limit, Fixed Limit Omaha. However, each variant comes with a few adaptations:
Types of Omaha Poker Games
- Pot Limit Omaha Poker (PLO): It’s the most popular version, and the player’s betting limit is what’s in the pot.
- No Limit Omaha Poker: The player has no betting limit and can bet up to all their chips.
- Fixed Limit Omaha Poker: The player is given a specific betting limit in each game and betting round.
Betting in Pot-Limit Omaha Poker (also PLO)
The minimum betting size in PLO is the same as in the big blind. However, all active players can always bet up to the size of the pot.
The amount needs to be at least as much as the previous bet or raise of the same round when it comes to raising.
The maximum raise is the size of the pot, consisting of the total of the entire pot, all bets on the table, and the amount of the call before raising.
Betting in No Limit Omaha
No Limit Omaha’s minimum bet is the same size as the big blind. However, all active players can bet as much as they want, which can be up to all of their chips.
The amount needs to be at least as much as the previous bet or raise in the same round when it comes to raising.
The maximum raise is as high as your stack of chips on the table.
Betting in Fixed Limit Omaha
when you play Omaha Poker with a set limit, your betting options are pre-determined and structured.
All raises on the pre-flop and flop are the same amount as the big blind. When raising on the turn and the river, the size of all bets doubles.
There’s also a limitation of allowed bets per player during each betting round: a (1) bet, (2) raise, (3) re-raise, and (4) cap (final raise).
Omaha Hi/Lo Poker
When you play Omaha Poker, you’ll also encounter another variant of the game – Omaha Hi/Lo, which is also called ‘Omaha High Low’, ‘Omaha H/L’, ‘Omaha/8’ or ‘Omaha 8-or-better’.
The basic setup of the game is identical to the classic Omaha Poker, each player gets dealt four hole cards, and five community cards are dealt face-up on the board. Then, players need to use precisely two cards from their pocket cards in conjunction with three cards from the board to make the best five-card poker hand possible.
The High/Low Pot
However, there is a difference when it comes to the pot. The pot is divided between the best hand for high and the best hand for low. You can use different combinations of two pocket cards to make your highest and lowest possible poker hand rankings. It’s essential, though, for each hand, you must use two of your hole cards and three from the community cards.
The ‘8-or-better’ Qualifier
Another difference is that Omaha H/L is played with an ‘8-or-better’ qualifier. A low hand must consist of five cards ranked eight or below. If this criterion is accomplished, a player is eligible to win the low part of the pot. If no qualifying low hand is shown, the high hand wins the entire pot.
The Low Hand Rankings
In Omaha Hi/Lo, the ‘Ace to Five’ or ‘California’ system is used for low-hand rankings. This means that straights and flushes don’t count against a hand, and Aces are always low in reading the low hand. Therefore, the best possible hand is a ‘wheel’: 5, 4, 3, 2, A.
Here’s a list of possible qualifying low hand rankings, always ranked from its highest card downwards:
- Eight-Low: 8, 7, 6, 5, 4
- Seven-Low: 7, 6, 5, 2, A
- Six-Five-Low: 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
- The Nuts: 5, 4, 3, 2, A
And also, should your qualifying low be a straight or a flush, you are holding a solid hand as it could win both the high and low pot. That kind of poker hand is called a ‘scoop’.
Differences in Omaha Hi/Lo Poker
The rules remain the same for Limit, No Limit and Pot Limit Omaha Poker games. However, as you’ve seen in the classic Omaha Poker, each version comes with a few exceptions.
Types of Omaha Hi/Lo Poker
- Limit Omaha Hi/Lo: Betting limit in each game and on each round of betting.
- Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo: Bets are limited to the amount of the pot on the table.
- No Limit Omaha Hi/Lo: Players can bet all chips.
- Mixed Omaha Hi/Lo: Alternation between rounds of Limit and Pot Limit Omaha. Blinds increase as soon as the game switches to Limit.
Betting in Limit Omaha Hi/Lo
Limit Omaha Hi/Lo has identical requirements to the classic version mentioned earlier. Therefore, a betting round has predetermined, structured minimum/maximum betting and raising amounts.
Betting in Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo
In PLO Hi/Lo, you are playing with identical requirements for the classic PLO version. The size of the pot is the maximum bet amount a player is allowed to place.
Betting in No Limit Omaha Hi/Lo
The No Limit game of Hi/Lo is identical to the classic No Limit Omaha variant. The maximum raise a player can place is the size of their poker chips stack.
Play Omaha Poker or Texas Hold’em?
It can be hard to decide at times. However, there is no right or wrong. Whatever poker game you choose, both are suitable variants to play and win.
Remember always to play responsibly and consider Texas Holdem the most accessible variant to learn how to play poker. Since Omaha is slightly more complex, it is recommended to try it after you are thoroughly familiar with the fundamentals of the game.
Learning Texas Holdem and the Omaha Poker rules will expand your knowledge in poker and can be helpful for other poker games out there. Doesn’t matter whether you are a bigger fan of online poker rooms or the physical ones.