Omaha Poker is actually a variation of Texas Hold ‘em, so if you’ve played Texas Hold ‘em before, you will pick up Omaha very easily. Omaha Hi/Lo, also explained below, is a little more complicated, though. After reading this article, you will have the basic knowledge of how these two games are structured and will be ready to start practicing the game. Once you’ve experienced an actual Omaha Poker game (try playing with practice money first and then move to real money once you’ve got the format down), you’ll be playing like a pro in no time.
In Omaha, like in Texas Hold ‘em, the dealer represents where the action starts. The player at the left of the dealer is the small blind and the next player to the left is in the position of big blind. The blinds act before the cards are dealed. At the onset of each new hand, the dealer “button,” which indicates the dealer’s position, will rotate to the left, so each player will at some point be in the dealer position, or “on the button”.
The first major difference in Omaha, from Texas Hold ‘em, is that players are dealt four hole cards (face down) instead of two. Players can then view their cards privately and initiate the first betting round. The player to the left of the big blind is the first to act. Each player has the option to call, raise, or fold. When the betting rotation gets to the big blind, he can also call, raise, fold, and also has the option to “check” if no one has raised yet. Since the big blind already has the full bet in the pot, he can check bet into the next betting round and see the flop for free (if you don’t consider the big blind an expense).
After all players have acted or folded, the dealer “burns” (discards) a card and then deals the “flop.” The flop refers to the first three cards laid on the table, face up, as community cards. A second round of betting then occurs. As the game continues, it is likely that more players will fold out of the game. After the second betting round culminates, the fourth community card is dealt to the table (a.k.a. the “turn” or “fourth street”), and a third betting rotation takes place. The fifth community card is then dealt (a.k.a. the “river” or “fifth street”). After the river is dealt, a final round of betting will lead to a showdown. To win, a player must use at least two cards from his four-card hand in combination with any of the community cards to create the best five-card hand at the table.
Omaha Hi/Lo Poker is played the very same as Omaha but with one difference. The player who has the highest ranked poker hand splits the pot with the player who holds the lowest ranked poker hand. It is possible to win both halves of the pot by having the best high hand and the best low hand.
Now it gets a little confusing. To judge whether or not your hand is high or low, if you possess cards valued over 8, you won’t make the low hand. Conversely, cards with value of 8 and under will create a low hand. Mid-value cards (7, 8, 9) will not make a good high or low hand. Aces can be played high or low; therefore the lowest possible hand is A/2/3/4/5, a.k.a. the “wheel” or the “bicycle.” Alternatively, the highest possible hand is A/K/Q/J/10. The trick to Omaha Hi/Lo is having the mental capacity to play both the high and low hands at the same time; so in essence, you’re playing two hands at once.
If at the end of the hand, two Omaha Hi/Lo players have equally ranked low hands or high hands, the pot is split. Since it’s already been split in half once, a four-way split is called a “quartered” pot. What’s exciting about this poker game is that the pots get pretty heavy, as players are essentially betting on two hands. Consequently, the strategy for this game is quite different than that of regular Omaha and Texas Hold ‘em. This game takes a lot of focus and concentration. Players must be very conscientious of what hands they play, while at the same time visualizing a single hand from two different viewpoints.