Beginners Guide to Omaha Poker

Written by on August 5, 2017

Beginners Guide to Omaha Poker

Omaha poker is an increasingly popular alternative to Texas Holdem. It comes in both Limit (fixed betting levels) and Pot Limit variations – where bets up to the size of the current pot are allowed. Omaha high uses the same hand rankings as other forms of poker and has the same flop, turn and river layout as Holdem.

The major difference with Omaha Poker is that each player is dealt 4 starting cards (hole cards) rather than 2. At showdown exactly 2 cards from your own hand and 3 cards from the community card board must be used to make a poker hand.

Having 4 hole cards makes a big difference to your starting hand selection in Omaha. The example below shows that it is important to start with 4 cards that ‘work together’ in order to have many ways of hitting the flop. Compare these 2 hands:

Ah-Ad-2c-7s – The aces are a strong holding pre-flop in Omaha poker, however, here the other cards in the hand do not compliment them. Unless you flop an ace your hand will be vulnerable to straights, flushes and 2 pair or better hands from your opponents.

9h-10s-Jh-Qs – This is a premium starting hand in Omaha, your cards are all close in rank and contain only 2 suits (this is known as ‘Double Suited’). You can hit the flop in many ways, making either straights or flushes. The way to look at this kind of hand is that you have 6 ‘Holdem’ hands working for you, 9-10, 9-J,
9-Q, 10-J, 10-Q and J-Q. With the aces hand you really only have A-A as the other combinations are unlikely to help you after the flop.

Starting hand selection is important in Omaha poker because of the fact that everyone has multiple ways of hitting each flop. A good way for a beginner to think of this is that each opponent has up to 6 Holdem hands! In a multi-way pot on the flop the chances that at least one opponent has hit the flop hard enough to call a bet is high. Your hands should include cards that work together in different formats. Suited aces (and ace with a second card of the same suit), pairs and cards close in rank can all be played.

Playing after the flop in Omaha often involves battles between ‘made hands’ such as trips or top 2 pairs and draws – usually to straights or flushes. The golden rule in Omaha Poker is that you should draw only to the strongest possible holdings. It can be very expensive to call bets to see your flush come in, only to find out that an opponent has a higher flush!

Flops containing pairs are dangerous in Omaha, it is common to see 2 full-house hands at showdown. If the flop, turn or river bring a pair then you should usually consider the best flush to be the second best hand. In a similar way straights should not generally be played on boards with 3 of one suit. The 4 hole cards for each player make it likely someone is holding the flush.

While it is more difficult to bluff in Omaha this is certainly possible in the right circumstances. The best time to launch a bluff is from last position (the dealer button) after your opponents have checked to you. A ‘scary’ flop such as one containing a pair or 3 of one suit is ideal. If you are called it is important to give up on your bluff quickly unless you have a draw to a strong hand.

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