The first thing to understand when reading our Guide to Omaha Poker is that it differs in two main aspects from its popular variant Texas Hold´em Poker. The first difference is that players are dealt four hole cards instead of two. This opens up the possibilities for players to frequently make exceptionally high value hands.
However, the second aspect is that only two of the hole cards can be used in the formation of the winning hand. Consequently, if you are dealt Quad Aces as your pocket cards, it is not a good a hand as you might imagine. It is impossible to make a set, a straight or a flush, and the best you can hope for is a Full House if three cards of the same value are dealt among the community cards, and no other player has the fourth card to make Quads of his (or her) own.
How to Play Omaha Poker
Starting Each Hand
Each hand of Omaha Poker starts with the two players to the left of the “button” paying a “Small Blind” and a “Big Blind” (in Fixed Limit games of Omaha Poker, this are called the “Small bet” and the “Big Bet”). The amount of the blinds is determined by the stake being played for and the variation of Omaha Poker being played.
For example, in games of $0.50/$1.00 No Limit and Pot Limit Omaha Poker, the Small Blind is $0.50 and the Big Blind is $1.00. In games of $0.50/$1.00 Fixed Limit Omaha Poker, the Small Bet is $0.25 and the Big Bet is $0.50. In tournament poker and sometimes in cash games, players may be required to also pay a small ante.
Once the blinds/bets and antes have been paid, each player receives four hole cards that only they can see. As mentioned above, the object of Omaha Poker is to use two of the hole cards with three of the community cards (those dealt on the “Flop”, “Turn” and “River”) to make the best possible hand. Different objectives apply when you are playing Omaha Hi/Lo Poker, and because of the differences we have dedicated a separate page to explaining “How to Play Omaha Hi/Lo Poker”.
Before the “Flop”, “Turn” and “River” are dealt, there is a round of betting. Betting starts with the player to the left of the player who paid the Big Blind (or Big Bet). This player has the option of calling the Big Blind (in a game of $0.50/$1.00 this would mean paying $1.00 to remain in the hand), raising the Big Blind (betting $2.00 or more) or folding their cards.
The betting continues clockwise around the table, with each player having the opportunity to call the bets that have been made before them, to raise the stakes by making a bigger bet of their own or to fold their cards. The betting concludes when the players who have not folded their cards have placed an equal amount into the pot. In Fixed Limit Omaha Poker betting can continue for up to four circuits of the table.
The “Flop” is the name given to the first three community cards dealt face upwards in the middle of the table. Remembering that players can only use two of their hole cards with three of the five community cards (two of which are still to be dealt) to make the best hand, it is difficult at this stage to tell what the winning hand may be.
Nonetheless, following the flop there is a round of betting which starts this time with the first active player to the left of the “button”. The betting options are similar to those in the pre-flop round of betting, with the additional option to “check” if no player has yet made a bet (there are no forced bets in this round of betting as there was with the “Small Blind” and “Big Blind”).
When the post-flop betting action has concluded, a fourth community card is dealt – the “Turn” card. The Turn card can develop a good hand into a better hand or reduce the number of outs that a player has to make a winning hand. Following the Turn, a further betting round follows, starting with the first active player to the left of the “button” and with the same betting options as before – check, bet, call, raise or fold.
In the rarely played Fixed Limit Omaha Poker, the betting after the Turn card is done at double the stake value compared to the two previous rounds of betting. Therefore, in a game of $0.50/$1.00 Fixed Limit Omaha Poker, where the first two rounds of betting have been conducted in multiples of $0.50, all bets are now made in multiples of $1.00.
The “River” is the final community card to be dealt. Once this card has been dealt, players can see the final strength of their hand and see what threats may exist in the hole cards held by other players that would prevent them from holding a winning hand. A final round of betting takes place between the remaining active players – again starting with the first active player to the left of the “button”.
Once the betting is finished, the hand reaches its conclusion in a “showdown”. The remaining active players show their hands – starting with the last player to bet or raise. The player with the best five-card hand of poker made up from two hole cards and three community cards wins the pot – the best five-card hand of poker being the one which features highest among those on our page about the hand rankings.
If two or more players have identical winning hands, the pot is shared between them (there is no hierarchy of hands depending on the suits of the cards), and not every hand has to go to a showdown for a winner to be determined. In any round of betting, a player could make a bet and every other player fold their cards – enabling the betting player to take the pot without showing their cards.
Our P.O.K.E.R. advice consists of five different elements of the game that new players should consider during their early experience of playing online poker. The advice has been developed based on our own experiences and on the experiences of other players we have observed or spoken to. It will not turn you into a poker boss overnight, but – we hope – will prevent you from blowing your bankroll in one session.
Patience – They say that patience is a virtue and, in online poker, the ability to wait for the right opportunities can be very rewarding. It is also better to get a reputation as a tight player who knows when to get their money onto the table than a loose player who is a mug punter.
Observation – Observing your opponents at the table can be a distinct advantage when playing Omaha Poker. Identifying the betting actions of weak players can be very profitable in certain circumstances – and it can save you a lot of money if you correctly identify the betting actions of stronger players!
Knowledge – One of the benefits of patience and observation is knowledge. Knowing when to remain in a hand or when to fold your cards can have a major impact on your bankroll, and the more patience you have and the more effort you put into observation, the better your knowledge will become.
Equilibrium – Maintaining a balance is very important in a game such as Omaha Poker, where the value of a pot can increase very quickly in one round of betting. To help maintain a balance, you should eliminate the fear of loss, and the best way of doing that is to read our guide to bankroll management to ensure you are not taking more than you can comfortably afford to lose to a cash game table.
Risk – One very important skill to master in Omaha Poker is calculating the level of risk you might have to take to remain in a hand. Understanding the odds of winning the hand is one thing, but knowing what you pot odds are and what your implied odds are can make the difference between winning a single hand and enjoying a long term profitable experience playing Omaha Poker.