How to Play Omaha Poker
Omaha poker is a fast paced poker game that has become more and more popular in recent years. Omaha is set up basically the same as Texas Hold'em, but players have four cards, and there are a few other small variations. You can find Omaha at most major poker sites, as well as some of the better live poker rooms. Read on to learn more about the game, and to understand the full rules and procedures.
Objective of Omaha
In Omaha poker, players try to win money by betting into a community pot. There are two ways a player can win a pot: either by betting enough money so the other players fold, or by showing down the best hand at the end of the game. To become a profitable Omaha player, you should focus on betting more money when you have a quality hand, and avoid putting money in the pot when you have a weak draw or poor hand. If you already know how to play Omaha, make sure to check out our Omaha poker strategy to learn more.
Omaha Poker Structure
Omaha poker is played at a table with a maximum of ten players, but usually games are played with two players, six players, or nine players. Tables are always referred to by their betting limits - for example, a $1/$2 Pot Limit Omaha table would have a $1 small blind and a $2 big blind. However, a $1/$2 Fixed Limit Omaha table would have a small bet of $1 and a big bet of $2. The small blind would be $0.50 and the big blind would be $1 - we'll talk more about that later.
Next to Hold'em, Omaha poker is the most popular online poker game, and also has a strong presence at live casinos and tournaments. Keep reading to learn the full rules of Omaha.
Omaha Poker Rules
Ok, so now let's get into the actual rules. Read on to learn how to play Omaha poker.
Shuffle Up and Deal
A game of Omaha poker begins when the two players to the left of the dealer post the small and big blinds. In Limit Omaha, the small blind is equal to one half the small bet, and the big blind is equal to one small bet. In Pot Limit Omaha, the small blind is equal to one small bet, and the big blind is equal to one big bet. Here is how the table would be laid out:
Once the blinds are posted, each player receives two face down cards. The dealer deals out one card at a time in a clockwise order, starting with the player directly to his left (the small blind). Once everyone has their cards, they look at them (without showing other players), and the first betting round begins.
First Betting Round
The first betting round starts with the player directly to the left of the big blind (this player is often referred to as "under the gun"). He/she can either call the big blind, raise, or fold. After that, players have a few options. If the big blind hasn't been raised, they can call, raise, or fold.
If the big blind has been raised, players can either fold, call the raise, or re-raise. The first betting round ends when each player has either folded, or matched the largest bet that was made.
There is one unique situation that often happens to the big blind. If the blinds haven't been raised and action is on the big blind, that player has the option to "check", meaning that they don't want to bet any more money. If they choose to check, their blind money stays in the pot, and the hand moves to the flop.
Once the first betting round has been completed, players see the first round of community cards, called the "flop". The dealer burns one card (meaning that they discard the top card of the deck in case anyone has seen it), then deals out three cards in the center of the table, face up. These three cards are community cards, meaning that anyone can use them to complete their poker hand.
Second Betting Round
After the flop is dealt out you have the second round of betting. This round begins with the first player directly to the left of the dealer, and action moves clockwise around the table. That player can choose to bet or check, and depending on what they do the other players will have different options.
If the first player chooses to check, other players can check behind if they don't want to bet, or they can make a bet. If someone makes a bet, remaining players can choose to fold, call the bet, or raise the bet. The second betting round ends when each player has either folded or matched the highest bet on the table.
After the second betting round is completed, the dealer then burns the top card and deals out one card face up into the middle of the table. This is another community card that any player can use in their hand.
Third Betting Round
Once the turn is dealt, players have another round of betting. This works exactly the same as the last round - play starts with the player directly to the left of the big blind, and continues clockwise around the table until everyone has either matched the highest bet, or has folded.
The river is the final community card. The dealer burns the top card of the deck, and deals one card face up into the middle of the table.
Final Betting Round
After the river is dealt there is one final betting round. This works exactly the same as the turn - action starts with the player to the left of the dealer, and continues clockwise around the table until the round is over. If there are at least two players left at the end of the betting round, there is a showdown to determine who wins.
There is only a showdown if multiple players make it through the final betting round. If that is the case, each player flips his/her cards up and the winner is determined by whoever has the best five card poker hand. There is a specific order as to who shows their cards first.
If the player who made the initial bet is still in the game, he/she is required to show their cards first. If not, the player who made the last raise is required to show their cards first. The winner then takes the pot, and a new hand begins. Here are the hand rankings for Omaha poker:
|Hand Rank:||Hand:||Example Hand:|
|#1||Straight Flush||T-J-Q-K-A of the same suit|
|#2||Four of a Kind||A-A-A-A-K|
|#4||Flush||2-6-8-9-A of the same suit|
|#5||Straight||5-6-7-8-9 Off Suit|
|#6||Three of a Kind||J-J-J-4-8|
In the event of a tie, the winner is determined by how high his/her hand is. For example, if two players have straights, the higher straight will win the hand.
IMPORTANT - In Omaha poker, although players have four total cards in their hand, they MUST use two cards from their hand along with three community cards to make their final five card hand. This is important because often times players will have four cards in their hand to a straight or flush with the fifth on the board, and they'll lose the hand because they actually don't have anything.
Where to Play Omaha Poker?
If you're interested in playing Omaha poker, your best bet is to fire up your browser and check out an online poker site. Since you can play for free at the poker sites, it lets you learn the game quickly without risking real money until you're ready. If you want to play at one of the best Omaha poker sites, check out LockPoker.com.
Variations of Omaha:
Omaha poker is played in a few different variations: mainly Pot Limit, Fixed Limit, High, and High-Low. Players can choose which game to play based on their personal preferences. If you're an aggressive player who likes to play by feel, we recommend playing Pot Limit Omaha poker . If you're a mechanical player who would prefer math and decision making, we recommend Fixed Limit Omaha.
Omaha high low is a split variant of typical Omaha high poker. In this game, the pot is split into two sub-pots: the high pot and the low pot. The high pot is always won by the player with the best five card poker hand. The low pot is won by the player with the lowest five card poker hand.
To qualify for a low hand, a player has to have five cards less than or equal to eight. Since you can only use two cards from your hand, there has to be at least three cards on the board that are an eight or lower for a low hand to be possible.
If that isn't the case, the entire pot goes to the highest hand - there just isn't a low pot for that hand. Also, its important to note that two paired cards under eight only count for one low card - you can't have a low hand with a pair in it. Learn more about Omaha vs. Omaha high-low.
Pot Limit vs. Fixed Limit
There are a few important differences between Pot Limit and Fixed Limit Omaha. The first difference is the blind structure:
At a $1/$2 Pot Limit Omaha table, the $1 and $2 refer to the small and big blind. However, at a $1/$2 Fixed Limit Omaha table, the $1 and $2 refer to the small and big bets. At the $1/$2 fixed Limit table, blinds would actually be $0.50 and $1.
In Pot Limit Omaha, a player can bet as much as they want at any time, as long as it doesn't exceed the size of the current pot. For example, if the pot was $10, a player could make a $10 maximum bet. Or, if the pot was $10, and a player faced a $5 bet, he/she could raise to $40 total. The player would call the $5 bet, making the pot $20 total, then make a pot sized raise to $40.
In Fixed Limit Omaha, betting is restricted to the betting structure. Preflop and on the flop, players can only bet/raise in increments of one small bet. On the turn and river, big bets are used. So, if you were at a $1/$2 Fixed Limit game, preflop or on the flop a player could make a $1 bet, and another player could raise to $2. On the turn or river, a player could make a $2 bet, and another player could raise to $4.
In Fixed Limit games betting is always capped at four bets, so if you were at the $1/$2 table, on the flop the highest bet a player could make is $4. After that, players can only call or fold - not raise. Learn more about Pot Limit vs. Fixed Limit Omaha.