The poker variant of Omaha has been one of the formats of the game to really see an increase in popularity over the years, mainly due to the success of online poker. Texas Hold ‘Em may just have the edge on Omaha for overall popularity but there are millions of poker devotees around the world who pledge allegiance to Omaha. There are big similarities between Omaha and Texas Hold ‘Em but there is also enough notable differences to define each discipline.
Omaha is also commonly referred to as Omaha Hi, in order to differentiate it from Omaha Hi-Lo. You may also have heard Omaha being referred to as “The Nuts” and this is down to the fact that a player often needs to have a big hand at showdown to scoop the pot due to the amount of winning combinations possible. Playing aggressively can serve you well in a number of poker games but when it comes to Omaha, it can be the difference between winning and losing.
Omaha, and its many variants, are extremely popular poker games and can be played at home, in casinos, online and in the biggest poker tournaments around the world. TV and online coverage is still slow for this game compared to Texas Hold ‘Em but for the poker playing community, Omaha is a strong choice.
How to Play Omaha
The general run of an Omaha game is as follows:
- At the start of each game of Omaha two players to the immediate left of the dealer will place a small and big blind bet.
- The dealer starts dealing cards to the player to their left and to the rest of the table. If the dealer is also playing, they receive the last card. Each player receives four cards each.
- The player next to the big blind is first to act and the betting round continues around the table where each player can call the blind, raise or fold.
- After this, the dealer will burn a card (discard one) and then turn over three community cards, which is referred to as The Flop.
- Players have the opportunity to bet, raise, call or even check their bet, which allows them to do nothing and wait to see what other players do.
- The dealer will then burn another card and turn over another card into the community card section, which is referred to as The Turn. Players are again afforded the opportunity to check, call, bet, raise or fold.
- The dealer will then turn over the final community card, which is called The River and all remaining players take part in the final round of betting.
- If more than one player remains in the game, The Showdown takes place. To win, a player has to use two hole cards and three community cards to create the highest five card hand.
The standard poker hand rankings are used to determine who has the best ranked card in the game of Omaha.
Best Omaha Starting Hands
When playing Omaha, having high ranking pairs is going to be among the best starting you could receive. A,A,K,K is regarded as the best starting hand available in the game. After this, A,A,J,10 is regarded as the next best hand and then any hand that contains a pair of aces with a pair of 10s, Jacks or Queens would be considered as a strong hand for starting a game of Omaha.
Connecting cards such as 9,10,J,Q would also be considered a good starting hand in Omaha due to the likelihood it will connect with some part of the community cards.
A bad hand would have low cards without any pair or a pair which contained a dangler. A dangler is a card that doesn’t link up to any other card in your hand, which reduces your starting Omaha hand to a three card hand. Any cards which aren’t connected in any way –suit or numbers – are considered bad Omaha starting hands.
Omaha Poker Tips
- If you don’t have a good starting hand pre flop then you should look to fold. There is always an opportunity to make something out of nothing in poker but in the long-term, playing in this fashion will see a player lose much more than they win. Play sensibly and if you haven’t got a good hand, play it tight.
- While having high pairs is good, it is important to remember that Omaha is not Hold ‘Em and therefore these hands are not as good in this game as they are in that game. We mentioned earlier in the article about the game being called ‘The Nuts’ and it’s because hand rankings move up a notch in Omaha.
- Although bluffing is an integral part of poker, it shouldn’t be your main tactic when playing Omaha. Play against the player and focus more on your hand due to how light opponents will call down.
- Even though Omaha places lesser emphasis on the possible plays open to your opponent, there is a need to be aware of the possibilities left in the game when you view your own cards. Understand your own hands but also the possible hands your opponents could have.