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Omaha Hold’em Poker

Omaha Hold’em, Omaha High or simply Omaha is one of the latest additions to the Poker family. Poker is constantly evolving. Omaha is very complex as it provides huge possibilities and opportunities, but it also places high demands on the players, which results from the variability of the game. Omaha is a community card Poker variation similar to Texas Hold’em and it is usually played with limited pot.

Let us start with a note that if one says Omaha (without an adjective) it represents the further described Poker game (also known as Omaha Hold'em or Omaha High), whereas classic Poker rules apply, i.e. higher hand wins. Even more complexity is brought by Omaha Hi-Lo, where the players can strive for the best high and low hand, so the pot can be split in halves. But let us continue with the classic Omaha Poker.

The Rules, Similarities and Differences of Omaha Hold’em

Unlike the Texas Hold’em Poker each player is dealt two extra cards, i.e. four hole or pocket cards in total. The course of betting is the same as in Texas Hold’em. The key difference in Omaha is that a player must make his or her best hand using exactly two own cards and exactly three board cards (out of the five community cards).

Therefore e.g. one hole card and four board cards cannot be used to make the best hand as in Texas Hold’em. One must always remember this rule!

Making the Best Hand in Omaha Poker & Things to Beware of

The following mistake is quite typical. A player holds e.g. the Ace of spades without any other card of spades. Now three cards of spades (the Flop) appear on the board and after that the next card (the Turn) is of spades as well. This may make the player think that he or she is playing a Flush (actually it would be the strongest Flush thanks to the Ace), but it is not the case – see the following illustration.

Illustration 1: Not a Flush...

The player's hole cards: A♠ 5♣ 10♦ Q♥;

The cards on the board: 9♠ 6♠ 7♠ (Flop) + J♠ (Turn) + A♥ (River).

The player does not hold the Flush A-J-9-7-6, because he or she must use exactly two own cards! His or her best hand, created by two own cards and three cards on the board, is a Pair of Aces:

A♠ A♥ Q♥ J♠ 9♠.

Illustration 2: Not a Full House...

One more demonstration of a trap that can lurk on the players in Omaha Hold'em Poker. On the other side the complexity makes the game beautiful.

You hold 5-6-7-8, while 2-2-5 appear on the Flop. At this moment your best hand is Two Pairs (5-5 & 2-2). If another 2 appears on the Turn (now 2-2-5-2 on the board) it can mislead you to play a Full House. In reality your best hand is 2-2-2-7-8 (see the illustration below) and you can be beaten easily by a player who holds a Pair in hand e.g. 3-3 and thus creates the real Full House 2-2-2-3-3.

Your hole cards: 5♣ 6♠ 7♠ 8♦,

the cards on the board: 2♥ 2♦ 5♥ (Flop) + 2♣ (Turn).

Even though you hold a five, your best hand is not the Full House 2-2-2-5-5 as in Texas Hold’em (you must use two own cards!), but a Three of a kind 2-2-2 only (three 2s are taken from the board + two highest cards 7-8 from your hand):

2♥ 2♦ 2♣ 7♠ 2♦

The Game of Opportunities and Risks

There is no need to worry, there is no shame in not knowing or as the Germans say Übung macht den Meister (Practice makes perfect), actually in this case, it is a loss of chips or money. Though the faster the learning process is. It is far more comfortable to play Omaha Poker games on a computer as it determines the best hands of all players automatically (it can be a bit complicating or time-consuming for a human).

Thanks to the four pocket cards and combinations with the community cards (Flop, Turn, River) the Omaha Poker is very complex. In terms of probability it is like you played six hands in Texas Hold’em or like you played for six players at a table, where you placed a bet and it did not matter which of the hands was winning.

Omaha Hold’em Poker is a game of opportunities and risks. We can say that a risk represents an opportunity. The relationship to the risk crystallizes the skill. Omaha (High) is popular with those players that can assess the risk properly. Due to a great number of combinations the strong poker hands, such as Straights, Flushes or Full Houses, are not an exception. The course of the game and decision making should be based on other players' bets in relation to the pot and the previous rounds.