One of the reasons Omaha poker is so popular is because it is similar to Texas Holdem. In fact, if you know how to play holdem, you can easily migrate to an Omaha table and hold your own. There are a few important differences (we’ll describe them below), but the two games are comparable on many levels. By the way, if you haven’t already done so, take the time to read our article on Texas Holdem rules.
On this page, we’ll explain everything you need to know to get started playing Omaha poker. You’ll learn how each hand starts, and how the betting rounds progress. We’ll take you through the flop, turn, and river, before describing the showdown. Also, because a lot of folks confuse the two games, we’ll explain the differences between Omaha poker and its progenitor, Texas Holdem.
A quick note before we get started: you can find Omaha tables with limit, no-limit poker, and pot limit Texas Holdem betting structures. To keep things simple, we’ll use a $2/$4 fixed limit structure for all examples.
Rules Of Omaha Poker: Starting And Opening
The dealer is identified by the Button, which rotates clockwise around the table with each hand. The two players to the dealer’s immediate left are responsible for posting the small and big blinds, respectively. The small blind is equal to half the low bet (i.e. $1 on a $2/$4 table). The big blind is usually equal to the low bet (i.e. $2). Once the blinds have been posted, cards are dealt to the players, starting with the small blind.
Cards are dealt clockwise with each player receiving 4 hole cards face-down. Once all players have received their hole cards, the first round of betting begins.
Bets open with the player seated to the immediate left of the big blind. That person can do one of three things. He can…
1. call the big blind by betting $2
2. raise the big blind by betting $4
Suppose everyone calls as betting advances around the table. When the bet reaches the small blind, he can call by posting $1 (to add to his small blind), raise by posting $3, or fold.
Finally, the big blind can either check or raise. The latter triggers another round of betting.
Flop, Turn, And River
After the opening round of betting has been completed, 3 community cards are dealt face-up. These represent the flop. They can be used by all players to make their hands. Once the flop has been dealt, a new round of betting begins, starting with the first active player seated to the left of the dealer. Like the opening round, bets and raises are limited to $2.
Following the flop’s round of betting, another card is dealt face-up to the community table. This card is called the turn. The first active player to the left of the Button starts the betting. All bets and raises must now be $4 (i.e. the big bet on a $2/$4 table).
After the turn round has been completed, a fifth community card is dealt face-up. This card is called the river; it is the final card dealt to the community table. It sparks a new round of betting with bets and raises held at $4.
If, after the river round, there is more than one active player remaining, each player shows their respective hands. Players must use two of their four hole cards combined with three community cards to make the best hand possible. Hand valuations follow normal poker hand rankings. The player with the highest valued 5-card hand wins the pot.
How Omaha Poker Differs From Texas Holdem
Both Omaha poker and Texas Holdem combine hole cards and community cards to make hands. The main difference between the two games is the manner in which players are required to use those cards.
In Texas Holdem, you’re only dealt 2 hole cards. You can use one, both, or neither in making your hand. For example, you can combine one hole card with four community cards. In Omaha Poker, you’re forced to combine exactly 2 of your 4 hole cards with 3 community cards. That limits your flexibility. For example, if you’re dealt a 4-5-6-7 in the hole and the community cards are 3-9-10-Q, you cannot make a straight. You’re forced to abandon 2 of your hole cards, thereby eliminating your possible straight (i.e. 3-4-5-6-7).
Another difference between the two games involves relative hand strength. Winning hands in Texas Holdem are often made with two pair, or even a high single pair. That’s not the case in Omaha poker. It’s not uncommon to see flushes and full houses taking the pot.
One last notable disparity is that Texas Holdem is always played high. That is, the highest hand always wins the pot. Omaha can be played Hi/Lo. In such games, the pot is split evenly between the player with the highest hand and the player with the lowest hand.
Omaha Hi Lo Poker: Scooping
With the exception of splitting the pot into 2 sub-pots, Omaha Hi Lo and Omaha poker follow the same rules. Cards dealt, betting structure, and posted blinds are handled in an identical fashion.
While it is possible to make a profit by going after half the Omaha Hi Lo pot, you can also walk away with the entire pot. This is called “scooping” and there are 3 ways to do it…
1. make everyone fold by betting them out of the hand.
2. enter a showdown with the highest hand while no remaining player has a qualifying low hand.
3. enter a showdown with both the highest hand and lowest hand.
With regard to #2, a qualifying low hand is defined as 5 unpaired cards that are ranked 8 or less.
With regard to #3, this method of scooping the pot is more difficult to accomplish. The hand that gives you the best chance of scooping with a high and low hand is A-2-3-4-5 (sometimes called a “wheel”).
There is also a situation in Omaha Hi Lo in which a player can “get quartered.” This happens when one player has the high hand, and goes into a showdown for the low end of the pot with another player holding the same low hand. The first person will get 3/4 of the pot – half the pot for the high hand and a quarter of the pot for the low hand. The second person is left with only a quarter of the pot for tying with a qualifying low hand. Getting quartered should be avoided.
Top Poker Rooms To Play Omaha Poker
Because Omaha poker is nearly as popular as Texas Holdem, you can find the game (as well as Omaha Hi Lo) played at all of the top poker rooms. We have our favorites for which you’ll find thorough reviews on our site. If you’re just getting started, we recommend the following poker rooms: