Omaha Basics

Posted by Dave on September 6th, 2012 filed in Poker Tips

omaha-holdemMany poker players say that if you can play Texas Hold’em, you can play Omaha. While it is very true that these two poker games have many things in common, there are also a few fundamental differences between the two. In this section we will show you the basics of playing Omaha and the different variations of this very popular poker game.

The main and most commonly played version of this game is played as a split-pot game. The highest ranking hand shares the pot with the lowest ranking hand. Because it is a high-low split-pot game, you will tend to see more players staying in the game, more action, and higher pots than Texas Hold’em.

Omaha is a nine card poker game. Each player must make their best five-card poker hand by using precisely two cards from their four private cards, and three from the shared cards.

Game Play

At the start of the game, each player is dealt four cards face down. After this is done, a round of betting will take place. During this round of betting, players can either fold, call, or raise the blind bet. Depending on where you play, a bet and (usually) up to four raises per round can take place, but when there are only two people vying for the pot, the amount of possible raises becomes unlimited.

After the first round of betting is finished, three shared cards are dealt to the board. This is known as the flop. After these cards are revealed, another round of betting takes place. From this round on, players can check if no one else has bet when it comes their turn to do so. If there is in fact no bet, a player can check or bet. If there IS a bet, players have to either fold, call, raise, or re-raise.

After that round of betting is finished, a fourth shared card is dealt to the board. This card is known as the turn. After this card is revealed, another round of betting takes place. Then the fifth and last shared card is dealt to the board. This card is known as the river. After this card is revealed the final round of betting takes place.

At this time, the best five-card high poker hand and the best five-card low hand will split the pot. However, to win the low hand the player must meet the following requirements. The player must combine any two unpaired cards with a rank of 8 or lower. Also, remember as stated above, each player must make their best five-card poker hand by using precisely two cards from their four private cards, and three from the shared cards.

Omaha Tips

Tips for the first four cards

  • By having four private cards to work with, you have six times the amount of potential starting hands as you would playing Texas Hold’em. Meaning, at the start of the game, you have six different possibilities of forming a hand here. With four cards in your hand, you are more likely to find something to go on here.
  • Position is key in this game, even in the first round of betting. Your position will be the same for the entire hand. Basically, if you are in a late position and the pot has not been raised yet when it is your turn to act, you are able to see the hands that are weaker than yours at this point. This gives you a chance to get a feel for the other players hands even though it is still early in the game.

    Positions in a basic nine person game are determined as follows: both blind players and the two players to their left = early position. The fifth, sixth, and seventh players = mid position. The eighth and ninth players = late position.

Tips for the flop

  • Like Texas Hold’em, the flop needs to meet the needs of your hand. It should deliver you a strong hand. You should be able to believe, at this point, that you can at least tie for the best high or low hand. If the flop doesn’t enhance your hand to that point you need to fold your hand.
  • At this point in the game, with six possible two-card combinations in every players hand, there are many possible hands going on. It is key for you to understand how your hand could be comparing to the other players hands. For example, if you are playing a LOW hand and your hand does not havean ace and a two, it is very possible someone else will have a better low hand. Be cautious here, many Omaha players lose many in this situation.

Tips for the turn

  • If the other players are loose players, it is quite possible you could draw the second best high hand, however, if the other players are tight players, most likely you’ll want to fold unless you have a draw to the best hand, or you already have it.
  • If the pot is already raised when it comes your turn, and other(s) call that raise even, you definitely want to consider want hands these players might be holding.
  • At this point, if you think you could be raised if you call, you need to make sure you have a much stronger hand than you would if you have no reason to fear a raise.
  • You will want to call with a draw if the pot odds are more than the odds are against making your hand and you know that you WILL have the best hand if the final card delivers you the card you need. This is a basic risk or reward situation. For example, if you think you can win $60 on a $10 investment, you would definitely want to stay in the game if the odds against making your hand are less than 6-to-1.

Tips for the river

  • Since there are so many possibilities generated for straights, flushes, and full houses when each player’s four-card private cards are added to the five shared board cards, this game is commonly decided on the river (last card).
  • When you have the best high hand:

  • After all the cards have been dealt and you have the best high hand, you are able to bet or raise without any reservations. You are confident of winning half of the pot, perhaps even the whole pot if there is no low hand. This is also the time to be very aggressive. You’ll want to get the most money you possibly can of any remaining players. You will get at least half of it back.
  • When you have the best low hand:

  • You will find that having the best low hand can be more complicating than having the best high hand. If you are completely sure you have the best low hand, you can bet the same as you would if you had the best high hand. However, if another player has the same low hand that you have -which is very commonplace in Omaha, you will be quartered.

    This means you will get 1/4th of the winnings. This most definitely makes winning any notable amount of money very hard to do. For example, you would need at least five players still in the game to make any profit. Even then the amount of profit you make will be minimal.

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