Introduction to Omaha High
Omaha High, also just known as Omaha, is one of the most popular poker games to be played online and live, after Texas Hold'em. Omaha became popular in the end of the 00's when Texas Hold'em became a very tight game with less action due to many players becoming skilled in the game. Omaha attracted many of the Texas Hold'em players because of its high levels of action due to having four cards dealt instead of two.
Omaha is similar to Texas Hold'em, except from having dealt four hole cards which makes it possible to get many more draws and better hands, improving the overall action. Unlike in Texas Hold'em where players can use all cards to make the best possible five card combination, in Omaha you have to use two out of the four hole cards and three of the community cards to create the best hand. This means that if you are dealt four aces as hole cards you do not have four of a kind of aces, but only a pair of aces. This creates a unique dynamic and makes the game much more interesting in terms of hand reading.
It doesn't take long to learn how to play Omaha especially if you already know the rules of Texas Hold'em as the rules are basically the same with the exception of which cards you can use. Omaha is mainly played as a pot limit game, but can be played as no limit and fixed limit as well. This means that when you play Omaha online, you will not be able to push all in if you have a good hand, but bet maximum the pot size. This means that players have to create another strategy to play their hands, to maximize the value and also to ensure not getting as many bad beats. Omaha is often just called PLO (Pot Limit Omaha) due to the fact it's mainly played as Pot Limit.
Omaha has become a very popular card game to play in live games with many casinos now offering Omaha cash games and tournaments. All the big tournament series now also features Omaha events, making it possible for the action packed game to get television coverage improving the overall popularity of the game.
Basic Game Play
When you want to start playing Omaha you will need to know the basic game play rules that apply.
One player will start out with the dealer button, meaning that he will act as the dealer. The dealer will deal all the cards clockwise, starting with the player to his immediate left. All players are dealt four hole cards facedown, so that the other players cannot see the cards. When the dealer has dealt every single player four cards, the game begin.
The first two players on the dealers left will be forced to pay a small and big blind. The blinds count as the first bets, ensuring there will be money or chips in each hand to generate action. The player right after the blind will then have to choose his action and then the action resumes clockwise until everybody has made their decision.
There will then be dealt five community cards by the dealer, starting with the flop (three cards), the turn (one card) and finally the river (one card). The player with the best five card combination using two of his hole cards and three community cards will then be the winner of the hand. It is not possible in Omaha to use more or less than two of the hole cards and three of the community cards to create a hand.
Omaha can be played with 2-10 players seated at the table, but it is usually preferred with as few players as possible to ensure that most of the cards are still in the deck to create the most possible action.
The Button and Posting Blinds
When playing Omaha, every single hand has to have a dealer assigned. The dealer will be assigned the button, to show that they are currently the one dealing the cards and is last to act post-flop. When you start up a new table of Omaha, the dealer button is assigned automatically by the poker software, usually by dealing all players a card face up and the player with the highest card gets awarded the button. The button will then rotate clock-wise, ensuring that in every round played, all players will have the benefits of being the dealer. The button determines which players have to act first and last in each hand.
After the button has been decided, the two players to the immediate left of the dealer will be forced to post the first bets, known as blinds. The first player after the dealer will have to post the small blind and the second player to the left of the dealer will post the big blind. The blinds have to be posted to create action in the game, ensuring there is always money or chips to be played for. If there would not be blinds, players would be able to fold every single hand for free until they would have the best possible hand, making the game very boring. Blinds are automatically posted when you play Omaha online, so all you need to focus on is playing your cards.
Pre-Flop (First Betting Round)
The Pre-flop is the first betting round where players are dealt their four hole cards. The cards are dealt face down so the other players cannot see them and players will then have to decide what action they want to take.
The first player to act pre-flop is the player that sits to the immediate left of the big blind; the position is also known as Under the Gun (UTG).
There are three different actions that can be done by players in the first betting round:
Fold: When the hand is too weak to play, you fold it and no longer take part of the hand
Call: When you have a good hand that you want to see the flop with, you call either the big blind or the amount that has been raised with
Raise: When you have a premium hand where you want as much money in the pot as possible, you raise. In Omaha, being mainly a pot limit game, you cannot raise more than the pot size.
After the first player has made his decision, the turn to act goes clockwise around the table until all players have made their decision. If a player raises his hand, the following players will have the option to re-raise, call or fold their hands. When raising in Omaha it can be difficult to understand exactly what the amount you can raise is, luckily the poker software knows it exactly and will not allow you to bet more than possible.
The rule to calculate pot raises are: Multiply the last bet by three and add all other money in the pot.
To give an example of how to calculate a pot limit "pot" raise:
Three players are playing $2/$5 Pot Limit Omaha Game
There have been posted small and big blind, meaning there is $7 in the pot before the first player acts.
Player one announces that he will raise $5. This creates a total pot of $12.
Player two announces he will raise pot. He can raise three times the previous bet plus the additional $7 already in the pot, which amounts to $22 in total.
Player three calls the $22 and the pot is now $44 in total.
Player one folds.
The Flop (Second Betting Round)
The second round of betting is known as the flop, where the dealer deals the first three community cards and a new betting round begins. In the second betting round the first player to act is the player to the immediate left of the dealer, unlike in the first round where this player was the small blind. The last to act on the flop is the player who acts as the dealer, i.e. the button. This pattern continues for the remaining betting rounds, meaning that only pre-flop is where the player to the left of the button will not be first to act.
Players now have to make a new action depending on their hand strength. Until someone bets, it is free to check the hand and the action will simply go on the next player. Should a player bet at some point during the betting round it is not possible to check, but you can call, re-raise or fold the hand. If all players check in the betting round, we simply move on to the next betting round, otherwise it moves on when all players have made their action.
The Turn (Third Betting Round)
The third betting is known as the turn and works in the exact same way as the flop. The dealer will deal the fourth community card and the betting round will begin. Players can now check, bet, raise and fold just like on the flop and as soon as everybody has made their action the next betting round starts.
The River (Fourth and Last Betting Round)
The fourth and final betting round is known as the river. On the river the dealer will deal the last of the five community cards and begin a new betting round for the players. Just like on the flop and turn, the players can now check, call, bet and raise for the last time.
When the betting round has finished the players have to show their hand by going to showdown.
After a hand has gone through the four betting rounds, the players that are left will be forced to show their cards to determine who has the best hand and wins the pot. The player with the best five card combination consisting of two hole cards and three community cards will take the pot.