To learn how to play Omaha Poker, the first thing you should know is that there are two variations, Omaha High and Omaha Hi/Lo. Omaha Hi/Lo is the more popular of the two and so we will discuss this variation for this article. The difference between them is that the Hi/Lo version splits the winnings between the players holding the highest and the lowest hands, while the high variation is awarded to the player with the highest hand.
The game of Omaha Poker typically is played with a set limit on the pot. It may also be played with no limits. However, playing with no limits can be dangerous to a beginner. It is not wise to play without limits on the pot until you become skilled at the game because one mistake can end up being costly.
This article will cover the following topics:
- How to Play
- Selecting a Starting Hand
- Hands to Play Together and Hands to Avoid
How to Play; Start Here
To begin, each player will be dealt 4 cards, face down, also known as hole cards. The dealer will then deal 3 cards face up, known as the community cards. The community cards are called the flop. Then another card, known as the turn, is dealt face up followed by one final card that is dealt face up and is known as the river.
The betting will begin before the flop is dealt, then again after the turn is dealt, and then once more, after the river card is dealt. This game is played using what is called a rotating blind system. This means that for each hand, a specific player contributes a set amount of money to the betting pool.
The players must each use 3 cards out of the 5 community cards, along with 2 cards from their hand in a combination that will form either a high or a low hand, or both. They are not required to use the same cards for both the high and the low hands. The luck in Omaha tends to be harder to come by than it is in Texas Hold ‘Em, making many players prefer Omaha over Hold ‘Em because of the challenge that the game presents.
It is important to remember that if there is not a minimum of 3 community cards that are ranked 8 or lower, there will not be a low hand. If this happens, the pot will be awarded to the player holding the high hand. If 2 players hold the same low hand, the low half of the pot will be split between them. When this happens it is called getting quartered.
One area that new players have a weakness in is not folding after the flop, if the only chance they have is either a split pot or they need both the river and turn cards to win. In Omaha once the flop is dealt, your hand should be distinct because 7 out of the 9 cards that you will use are visible.
One skill that must be mastered is being able to read the cards and determine the best possible hand that you can make. To improve your skills, consider continuing to read the cards, even if you have folded, just for the practice. Over time, the skill of reading the cards will become fine tuned as you gain more experience.
Selecting a Starting Hand
In the game of Omaha, one of the biggest decisions that you will have to make is to know what hands to bet on and which ones to fold on. It is important that you know when you have a hand that will allow you to win both the high and the low pots or if you have a good hand that can be improved with the community cards.
One concept that you should familiarize yourself with is the idea of counterfeit protection. For instance, if one player is holding 4 cards and has A-2-3-5, and the other player is holding 4 cards that include A-2-Q-K, when the flop is laid down, if those cards are 4-6-7 either player could have the best low hand. When the turn and river are dealt, if an A or a 2 is laid down, the hand that includes the Q and K is no longer the best low hand. So before you bid you want to look for counterfeit protection to ensure you do not go broke.
Omaha Hands to Play Together or to Avoid
When you play Omaha, you will start with 4 cards that will allow you to create up to 6 unique combinations of 2 cards each. The best hand to start with is one in which all 4 cards will work together. If only 3 cards will work together, then the hand is weak. One example is if you are holding a hand of 4 cards that includes A-2-4-9, then you have a hand in which all 4 cards can work together. The A and 2 are the best low cards and the 4 offers counterfeit protection.
Part of learning how to play Omaha poker is learning which hands to bet on and which ones to fold with is important to your success while playing Omaha. Learning to judge when you have the best chances for winning the high or the low hand will be of a lot of help. For example, if you are holding A-6-9-Q, you might consider folding because there is really no way you will achieve the low hand with a 6, and there is only a small possibility of getting a straight and possibly getting the high hand.
Let us say you are holding 5-7-8-9 in your hand. This is another hand that you might at first think has great potential, but as you learn more about the game of Omaha you will realize that it is really a very weak hand that offers very little possibilities. Even though there is potential to hit a straight, it is unlikely that it will be the best straight and will most likely not win as the highest or the lowest hands.
Ideally, you want to create a hand that will win both the high and the low hands so that you will win the whole pot. You may also win the whole thing if you have the high hand and no low hand is possible by any other players. The game of Omaha can be an exciting game. Players raise their bet when they have a high hand, raise it when they have a low hand and ultimately, it can all lead to some very big pots.