Omaha poker, sometimes called Omaha Hold’em, is a popular derivative of Texas Hold’em known for its volatile and calculated gameplay. It plays identically to Texas Hold’em with a couple of key differences, which makes it easy to learn. However, that similarity can trip newer players up.
This guide will teach you how to play Omaha poker and equip you with the necessary knowledge to get out there and try it yourself.
Once you have read this guide, check out our review of the Best Poker Sites in Canada; learn more here.
How to Play Omaha Poker
Omaha poker is a community card game. Players are dealt four hole cards and must use two of them and three of the community cards to form the best poker hand. Of course, this is poker, so there are a lot of subtleties to the play beyond the core goal of the game.
Here’s a basic overview of how you play Omaha poker:
Dealing: Each player is dealt four hole cards face down. A player may only see their own hole cards.
Preflop: The first round of betting takes place. The blinds start the pot, and players opt in or out. In each betting round, players can choose to bet, call (meet the bet), raise or fold (withdraw).
The Flop: The first three community cards are drawn and placed face up on the table. With this new information, there is a second round of betting.
The Turn: A fourth community card is drawn, and there’s another round of betting.
The River: A fifth community card is drawn, and the final round of betting is held.
The Showdown: If necessary, the remaining players choose their final hand and reveal it to determine a winner. Players must use two of their hole cards in the hand and can choose to muck (forfeit) instead of showing. Whoever has the best hand (or is the last player standing) wins the pot.
Omaha Poker Hand Rankings
Hand rankings in Omaha poker are the same as in Texas Hold’em. Here’s a quick rundown in case you need a reference:
Royal Flush — A-K-Q-J-10 of the same suit
Straight Flush — five consecutive cards of the same suit
Four-of-a-kind — four cards of the same value
Full House — a three-of-a-kind and a pair
Flush — five cards of the same suit
Straight — five consecutive cards, regardless of suit
Three-of-a-kind — three cards of the same value
Two Pair — two pairs of cards, each a different value
One Pair — two cards of the same value
High Card — the worst possible hand, with none of the above combinations.
In Omaha poker, you build your hand using two of your four hole cards, plus three of the community cards.
How is Omaha Poker different from Texas Hold’em?
Since Omaha Poker is a derivative of Texas Hold’em, you’re probably wondering what the differences between the two are. There are two major changes to the rules of Hold’em that make Omaha poker a unique game:
The players are dealt 4 hole cards instead of 2
The final hand must use 2 of the hole cards and 3 of the community cards
While these changes are small, they do drastically change your approach towards the game. Here are some of the key strategic differences:
With more cards to pick from, players are more likely to get better hands. As such, a strong hand in Texas Hold’em could be significantly weaker in Omaha, leading to much more volatile gameplay.
Having to use two of your hole cards means hand building is a lot less flexible than in Texas Hold’em, where you can choose to use only one.
Omaha poker is quite popularly played as Omaha Hi/Low. Because you have more hole cards and more potential hands, playing for both the highest and lowest hands is easier.
While both games are played with a variety of betting structures, Texas Hold’em is traditionally played no-limit, and Omaha with a pot limit. This means Texas Hold’em games are often higher stakes.
Omaha isn’t quite as popular as the game it’s derived from, so it’s harder to find games online, let alone with the betting structure or variation you’re after. And it can be even harder to find a game at a land-based location. However, you can find Texas Hold’em just about everywhere.
Lower Barrier to Entry
Omaha poker may be a little more complex than Texas Hold’em. However, the less competitive scene means that, on average, Omaha poker games are a little easier.
Tips for Playing Omaha Poker Online
So now that you know how to play Omaha poker, it’s time to get out there and put that knowledge to the test. However, before we leave you to run wild, let us leave you with a few tips, especially if you plan to play online.
Keep the stakes as low as possible when you’re starting out. This could mean playing casual games with friends, playing at social casinos or with bonus funds. While you’re learning to play, you’ll lose a lot more, and it’s a good idea to limit your losses during that rocky period.
Find a dedicated poker site/house rather than a general casino. While you’ll almost always find a game of Texas Hold’em at a casino, Omaha Hold’em is a lot less common. However, it’s one of the most popular poker games at dedicated sites, and you can even find variations on it, like hi/low and different betting structures.
Pay attention to your position of play. Your position to the blinds can determine the amount of information you’re working with at any point. As your positioning changes, you might consider changing up your strategies.
Don’t worry if you aren’t great at first, even if you’re a whiz at Texas Hold’em. Omaha poker is a very different game, and having a lot of experience with Texas Hold’em can actually be a disadvantage. Let yourself make mistakes as you get used to the different types of play.
Omaha poker is an interesting game; it’s surprising how such a small change to the rules can dramatically change the flow of play. If you’re a newbie to poker or an experienced player looking to shake up your experience, Omaha poker isn’t a game to sleep on. Expect it to be different but just as much fun!