Complete Guide to Omaha Poker Online

PokerWired
30 Apr 2024
PokerWired Staff 30 Apr 2024
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  • How to play Omaha poker
  • Gameplay, terms, and variants
  • Omaha strategy tips
Omaha Poker Guide

Texas Hold’em may be the most popular poker variant in a casino poker room and on online poker platforms, but Omaha also continues to grow in popularity. Many major tournament series feature the game and plenty of action is available at the virtual tables for real money.

Players looking to expand their repertoire of games may want to check out Omaha Hold’em. This four-card version offers plenty of fun and fireworks.

Players will find a fun and challenging game with plenty of action. With so many players playing Texas Hold’em, finding some skills in another game may also give you a shot at winning some cash in a different poker variation.

This review gives you complete details on learning the ins and outs of playing Omaha poker.

How to Play Omaha Poker

Omaha is a fun game that often features much bigger hands than seen in Hold’em with plenty of action. Players tend to draw to bigger hands as well. Here’s a look at how to play Omaha online or at a casino poker room.

Preflop

In Omaha, players begin with four cards rather than two, but the preflop action plays out like a hand in Hold’em with the same betting structures and gameplay. That includes posting a big blind and small blind to start the action.

While Hold’em is played mostly in a no limit format, Omaha is usually found in a limit or pot limit format. In a pot limit game, you can only bet up to the size of the pot. And while the game may not be no limit, some sizable pots can certainly be built in this format.

Omaha brings plenty of action and drawing, so a few pot-sized bets can really swell the number of chips in the pot. When playing online, pot-sized betting is simple because the software determines the size of the pot.

The Flop

Like in a game of Hold’em, after players call, raise, or fold preflop, three cards are dealt face up in the center of the table. The player to the left of the dealer button can then bet or check. The action continues around the table with players checking, betting, or raising.

  • Important Note – One crucial difference between Hold’em and Omaha is obviously that players receive four cards instead of two. And it’s important to remember that while players have four cards in Omaha, they can only use two of their hole cards at showdown to make a high hand. This applies to the “high” version of the game where there are no split pots (an explanation of the high-lo version of the game comes later). Players can’t use one, three, four, or zero cards. Players must use exactly two (and only two!) hole cards with three of the community cards to make a hand.

Another key aspect of the game is that players have many more options and draws, so Omaha usually produces much higher hand values. You generally must also be ready to fold bigger hands than you might in Hold’em.

The Turn & River

In Omaha, the betting follows as you might see in Hold’em and that goes for the turn and river cards. Most games are played in fixed or pot limit varieties. On the turn and river players can check, bet, or raise.

When the river betting is concluded, players show their cards to determine their best five-card hand. Hands tend to be higher in Omaha so beware as the action progresses. A pair on the board may mean a possible full house is out there. Three cards of one suit may mean a flush is likely. Pay attention to the community cards to gauge the strength of your own hand.

A Look at Omaha Variants

Beyond the “Omaha high” variant, players will also find some other versions of the game. Playing online allows players to practice at lower stakes and even for free. Here’s a look at some of these different Omaha options.

Omaha Hi/Lo (8 or Better)

This Omaha version is a split-pot game, sending half the pot to the player with the highest hand and half to the player with the lowest hand. Players can use any two of their cards to make a high hand and any two to make a low hand.

There are a few things to remember regarding this. “8 or Better” part of the game applies to players playing for the low hand. A five-card hand must have no card higher than an 8 to qualify as a low hand – such A-2-3-5-8. A player finding A-2-3-4-5 has the nuts for a low hand and beats any 6, 7, or 8-low hand.

Any five-card hand that goes above 8 doesn’t qualify for a low. Some boards, such as 4-10-3-K-K, make a low hand impossible because a five-card low can’t be made with the highest card no higher than 8. If you had A-2, A-2-3-4-10, your hand wouldn’t qualify as a low. When there are no qualifying low hands, there is only one high hand winner.

If a low hand is possible, one player can actually have both the high and low. Two of your cards might make a straight for the high half of the pot. Another two cards, which can also include one used to make the high, can also be used to make a low. In this case, that player is said to “scoop” the entire pot.

On occasion, opponents may have the same hands for high and low, meaning they split the half of the hand they won. Omaha Hi/Lo brings some fun added elements to the game and offers a chance for more players to win.

Big O (Five Card Omaha)

There’s already plenty of action in Omaha and a fifth card adds even more. Big O (also called Five Card Omaha) players receive five cards instead of four.

However, the same rules apply – two and only two cards make the best hand. But the extra card brings even more options. Being aware of possible bigger hands among opponents can save a player some chips in the long run.

HORSE & Mixed Games

Mixed games, generally considered games other than Hold’em, have grown in popularity over the last few years. Omaha has been a major part of this movement. HORSE is a popular collection of mixed games that includes:

  • H – Texas Hold’em
  • O – Omaha
  • R – Razz
  • S – Seven Card Stud
  • E – Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo – Eight or Better

HORSE is often played in limit format and the multi-game option is a popular option at the World Series of Poker. 

Omaha cash games are also very popular and can be found on sites like GGPoker. Online games and tournaments can be found for any bankroll.



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Allen Shen and Daniel Negreanu in the PokerGO Pot Limit Omaha Series. (photos courtesy PokerGO.com)

Omaha Starting Hands

Knowing which starting hands might be best to play could be a help to new players. Unlike in Hold’em, large pocket pairs aren’t as powerful in Omaha. The larger number of cards a player receives and more possible combinations with four cards make winning with a single big pair less likely.

A large pocket pair can be nice when hitting the board for a set (three of a kind), but there are other considerations. Players often prefer good drawing hands that offer numerous possibilities on the flop, turn, and river. Here are hands to consider when jumping in some Omaha action.

Wraps

A wrap is a straight draw with more than eight outs – giving you multiple ways to make a straight. These are much more common than in Hold’em, with a player’s cards literally wrapping the cards on the board

For example a player holding J107Q has numerous outs when a flop of 829 – any 6 (four), 7 (three), 10 (three), Jack (three), and Queen (3). That equates to 16 outs for players in this situation.

Throw in hands with flush draws and a hand has even more outs. Watch out for the sucker wrap draw, however, to avoid drawing to hands that are inferior to another player's higher straight.

Double Suited Hands

This is when a player has a starting hand of two different suits, creating bigger possibilities for flush draws. A hand like JQKAis double suited and would be worth seeing a flop with.

The best starting hand in Omaha is a double-suited A-A-K-K. This offers numerous possibilities including nut flushes and straights.

In Omaha Hi/Lo 8 or Better, double-suited A-A-2-3 would be the best starting hand. These four cards start with the best pair, double nut flush draws, numerous straight draws, and multiple draws to the low nuts as well.

Going low

Players involved in Omaha Hi/Lo should be willing to see lots of flops with hands including A-2 and A-3. Calling too many bets to chase can cost a lot of chips though. As in Hold’em, playing too many hands can cost you as well. Don’t be a “calling station.”

It might not be worth raising with A-2 in early position. Making some players fold could have you losing a chance at a nice low pot with more players chasing a hand. If you hit the hand, even better. You might miss out on a scooped pot for high and low.

Playing Omaha Games Online

Online poker players can usually find plenty of Omaha action including:

  • Cash games
  • Tournaments
  • Sit and go’s
  • Major tournament series events

Tournament players will find plenty of options. Smaller stakes cash games are also available. These are real money events and players can win real cash.

Omaha Sit and Go’s Online

These are great tournament online Omaha options for those short on time. Sit and Go’s offer single and two-table events that play out much more quickly. Players can usually find Hold’em and Omaha Sit & Go’s online.

There are plenty of events for all bankrolls levels, starting as low as $0.25 and going as high as $100 or more. Depending on the online poker platform, look for events featuring:

  • Heads-up
  • 6-handed
  • 8-handed
  • 9-handed
  • Turbo
  • Hyper-turbo

Sit and go’s are a great opportunity for players to work on skills. Some players find they really excel in these events and mix in plenty of SNG action into their poker routines. These small-field tournaments can be a lot of fun.

Omaha Conclusion

Players looking for a lot of action and fun should give Omaha a try. Expect bigger hands and plenty of chips flying around the table.

Online poker players will find plenty of four-card action on numerous platforms. It’s a fun game and there are several variations to check out. Jump in the action and good luck.

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