Omaha Omaha Hi - high speed poker
Omaha know how
Basically Omaha follows the same rules as Texas Hold’em Poker, there are only two exceptions:
- Every player is dealt four pocket cards instead of two.
- The players have to use two pocket cards and three community cards to build their hand.
Apart from the above mentioned exceptions, the rules of Omaha and Texas Hold’em are the same, but these two small things make a big difference. Since every player is dealt four pocket cards, there are a lot more possibilities to form one’s hand; then there are more cards in the game, which means that more people are likely to have a nice hand. What is particularly exciting is the fact that you can have the best possible poker hand using your pocket cards and the flop and then lose to an originally weaker hand on the river. This is why Omaha requires a lot more tactics than Texas Hold’em, for example.
First thing: up to 10 players may participate in this poker game. At the very beginning of each game, the two players who sit next to the dealer (the person marked with the dealer button) have to place their blinds. This happens before the cards are dealt. The blinds are there to make sure that there is money in the pot so every winning hand can actually win money. Since the dealer button moves on clockwise from player to player with each round of the game, every player has to pay a blind at some point during the game. The player to the left of the dealer places the ‘Small Blind’, the player to his left has to place the ‘Big Blind’ which is usually twice the amount of the small blind. After the blinds, the first cards are dealt. Each player, starting with the one to the left of the dealer (the small blind), is dealt four cards face down. These cards are called Pocket Cards or Hole Cards.
First betting round
The first betting round is started by the player to the left of the big blind, using poker language, this player is ‘under the gun’, since he is the one who has to act first. Now this player may fold his cards, call or raise.
- Fold: This means the player discards his hands and may also lose the bet he has already made.
- Check: This means a player does neither bet, nor fold his cards. He passes on the action to the player next to him. (This is only possible as long as no player has placed a bet yet.)
- Call: To place a bet equal to that of the last remaining player before you.
- Raise: To place a higher bet than the last remaining player before you.
After the first betting round the first three of maximum five community cards (these cards are the same for all players and players can use them to build their hand) are dealt face up on the table. These three cards are called the flop.
Second betting round
Now the first remaining player to the left of the dealer button (i.e. a player who has not already folded before the flop) starts the second round. The second betting round follows the same rules as the first one. Another card is dealt face up next to the flop, this card is called ‘the turn’. Now there are four community cards on the table and another betting round begins, starting with the first remaining player to the left of the dealer button. Depending on whether you are playing a game of Omaha limit, pot limit or no limit, the rules are changing now. Please find more detailed explanations for the specific game type below.
The last community card is dealt face up next to the flop and the turn, which makes the community cards a total of five cards. A last betting round is started; again the first remaining player to the left of the dealer button has to begin. The last betting round works just like the one before.
As soon as all the betting rounds are over, the so-called ‘Showdown’ begins. The showdown is the final phase of a game where remaining players have to show their cards. The player, who has managed to build the best hand out of his four pocket cards and the five community cards (he has to use two pocket cards), is the winner of the pot. Should two player’s hands have the same value, they share the pot. In the rare case that the best hand is made up entirely of the community cards, all players that are still in the game share the pot. Should you, upon seeing one of your opponent’s cards, note that you have the losing hand, you can choose to discard it face down (‘muck’). Obviously you can always reveal your cards to the other players to maybe compare your hand with those of the others. The last player who bet or raised during the last betting round has to be the first to show his cards, should there be no player who bet or raised during the last round, it depends on the casino or poker room, who has to show his cards first. After every played hand the dealer button is moved on clockwise and the next hand can start.
The first one to act in every round – after the cards were dealt or revealed – is always the first player to the left of the big blind, or in the first round, the player to the left of the dealer. Every one of the other players may now decide on the size of his bet, basing his decision on his cards. Depending on the number of players whose turn it is to bet after him, this gets more or less complicated. If you had a rather mediocre hand and five other players after you, the decision whether you should bet, raise or rather fold would undoubtedly be a difficult one.
If you do not like the cards you were dealt, you have the opportunity to discard (fold) them and thus leave the current round of the game. Should you be big or small blind or should you have called someone’s bet already, you lose the money. Apart from that though, since you have folded, you cannot lose any more money during this round. If you want to keep your cards and stay in the game, you can, for example, check. This means that nobody before you has placed a bet yet and that you do not either. Now the player after you has the opportunity to check himself, or to bet. If any of the players in the round bets, you need to – as soon as it is your turn – decide whether you fold, call or raise. To call means that, in case a player before you has placed a bet, you bet the same amount as he does; you call his bet.
Bet and raise/re-raise – according to the limit
If you find you have been dealt decent cards, you can bet a certain amount of money on your hand being the winning hand. If a player before you has already placed a bet, you can raise his bet. Depending on the betting structure the amounts you can bet or by which you may raise, are fixed.
Fixed limit: On a $ 5/$ 10 table you may bet $ 5 in the first two betting rounds and up to $ 10 in the last two. In each round players may bet once and raise three times (bet, raise, re-raise and again re-raise or ‘cap’). After three rounds of betting the so-called cap is reached, this means that in this betting round, no more betting can be done. In this case the next card is dealt – or if it was the last round – the showdown begins.
No limit: Here the betting structure follows these rules: Each player may bet all the money he has on the table, regardless of the size of the pot. As a rule, the minimum bet has to at least equal the amount of the Big Blind and if you decide to raise, your raise does at least have to equal that of the player before you.
Pot limit: In a pot limit game a player may bet a sum between the minimum bet and the total size of the pot. In a $ 5/$ 10 pot limit game the small blind is $ 5 and the big blind $ 10. The first player could call the big blind (i.e. $ 10 in this case) or raise to any amount up to the total pot size. The raise has to either equal or exceed the previous bet. So in this case, the maximum possible raise would be $ 25 ($ 5 small blind, $ 10 big blind and $ 10 the call) which means that player #3 may actually bet a total of $ 35. So should player #3 raise the pot limit, the total amount in the pot would then be $ 50.
Now if the next player (let’s say player #4) wants to go on playing, he at least has to call the $ 35, i.e. the bet player #3 has made. Should player #4 want to raise (up) to the pot limit he would have to put $ 120 into the pot. That is the total pot size ($ 50) plus the maximum raise of $ 70 ($ 35 call + $ 35 raise). The number of betting rounds per hand is not limited and in each round calling and raising continues until every player has either called, or folded his cards.
Why go All-In?
When one or more other players call this move and the player who went all-in wins anyway, his winnings in this round increase considerably. Another possibility would be, that a player goes all-in to bluff and merely signal that he has a good hand, in order to make the other players fold and win himself the pot. (What the precise rules for an all-in situation are is described in the following paragraph.) Apart from the situation described above, players could also go all-in for the following reason: In case a player lacks the necessary amount of chips to call or finish a hand but has nice cards and wants to stay in the game anyway, he does not have to fold. The player can also go ‘all-in’; so he bets all of his chips (even if they are not sufficient to cover the sum he would actually need to call) and can stay in the game without being able to act any further though. All the money that is in the pot up until the point when he goes all-in, is what the player can win. All money put into the pot after he went all-in is put in a separate pot. Should the all-in player win the showdown, he wins the main pot, whereas the side pot goes to the player with the second best hand. When a player goes all-in and his fellow players decide to call his bet, they obviously have to call the sum he bet.
Just like those of Texas Hold’em, the origins of Omaha (or Omaha High, Omaha Hold’em) are difficult to retrace. What we know for sure is that this poker variant only appeared in Las Vegas comparatively late. When the game was introduced at the Golden Nugget Casino in 1982 it immediately became one of the most popular poker games and has retained this status up until now. Unfortunately we do not know who actually invented this Texas Hold’em variant and why it is called Omaha. In the world of professional poker, Mike Matusow is renowned as the best Omaha player. He is known as a very controversial player, who is famous for his big mouth and often unruly behaviour. Even after the best of explanations, you still need to practice playing at an online poker table. We have created reviews of the best online poker schools to show you where you can practice your play.