Omaha Hi Rules
Omaha Hi Rules - How to Play Omaha Hi
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Omaha Hi is a variation of Omaha that is very common. There is also a version called Omaha Hi/Lo that you may run into quite often in the poker room world. Omaha is played very similarly to Texas Holdem in terms of rules. However, there are a few minor differences in the format and the strategies used.
If you're familiar with Texas Holdem, the structure of the betting and the community cards will be familiar. The person sitting to the left of the dealer is the small blind and the person to the left of the small blind is the big blind. The blinds move around the table as the button (dealer) moves around.
Each player is dealt four hole cards. Hole cards are cards that are face down, meaning they are not exposed to your opponents. This is one of the major differences between Omaha Hi and Texas Holdem. In Texas Holdem, players are only dealt two hole cards. After the deal, the first round of betting begins. The action starts with the person sitting to the left of the big blind and ends with the big blind.
This starting position is often referred to as being under the gun. For each betting round after the initial round, the action will begin with the player that was the small blind and conclude with the player sitting in the dealer seat. This slightly changes when people fold or raise but the order starts and finishes in this order - always moving in clockwise direction.
After the first round of betting, the dealer burns a card and deals the flop. The burn card is just a discarded card that is not exposed to the table. The flop is a term used in other games as well such as Texas Holdem. The flop is three community cards to be used by all of the players in the hand.
A second round of betting begins and, when it is finished, the turn is dealt. The turn is one more community card that is dealt following a burn card. After the turn, there is a third betting round. At any time, if all players fold to leave one player remaining, the community cards stop being dealt and the remaining player wins the hand.
After the third round of betting, the dealer flips the river. The river is the fifth and final community card and is also followed by a burn card. Altogether, there are four hole cards - three cards that were burned and five community cards. There is a final round of betting after the river and, if necessary, the remaining players will go to a showdown. The showdown is to reveal which player wins the pot.
In Omaha, you must use two of your four hole cards and three of the five community cards to make your best five-card poker hand. So, if you have A-K-Q-J of clubs in your hole cards, you can only use two of those. The same thing goes if the board has a flush on it. In Holdem, you may count on a split pot. However, in Omaha, you don't have a flush unless you have two of that suit in your hole cards. You absolutely have to use two of your hole cards and three of the community cards.
Strategy - Position
Omaha Hi requires a different strategy than what is commonly used in Texas Holdem. In Holdem, top pair and low sets win the pot the majority of the time. Occasionally, a player has the nuts but the hand selection is a lot looser in Holdem than in Omaha. The focus in Omaha Hi is to get the nuts and mediocre hands won't fly like they do in Holdem.
The idea behind Omaha Hi is that you should be on some major draws with multiple possibilities to even consider playing a starting hand. In Omaha Hi, you're looking for straight and flush draw possibilities within your starting hand. Once the flop comes, if you don't have a straight, flush or are sitting a card away from a straight, flush or full house, it's probably in your best interest to get out of the hand.
In Omaha Hi, you rarely see a showdown. If there is a showdown, it's virtually guaranteed that one player has the nuts and the other player has the second nuts. For example, if the board is A,K,7,7,5. If this was to go to a showdown, you probably are looking at a player having something like A,A,X,X with another player having K,K,X,X. If there's three players in, someone likely has 7,7,X,X. It would be shocking to see a player have 5,5,X,X and stay in the hand to the river. However, it does happen.
Position is very important in Omaha Hi. It's probably more important in Omaha than in Texas Holdem. The reasoning for this is due to the focus of the game and the rank of hands that averagely win in Omaha Hi. Since the focus is to build the best hand possible and have the nuts, the secondary or sub-par hands that may be played in Holdem are not played here. Using position to your advantage can take down a great deal of pots in Omaha Hi.
The later you are to act, the better your position is. The button or the dealer is the best position on the table. The worst pre-flop is being under the gun and the small blind position is basically under the gun for every round post flop. Pay attention to where you sit and how you should act perspectively according to early, middle and late position.
Starting Hand Tips:
- High Pocket Pairs - Good chance of a high full house. If you don't hit a set at least, they're worthless
- Connecting Cards - open-ended straights are good. You can only use two of them but it gives you a lot of possibilities on the flop
- Suited Cards - Be careful of chasing the flush draw, if it's not to the Ace it can be quite dangerous
- Low to Mid-Pairs - Fold them. More than likely the nut hand will crush you or a higher set will beat you.
Omaha Hi is a game that requires patience, skill and practice. Know your hand strengths and remember that the hand that wins usually ranks higher than the average hand in Texas Holdem. Use your position to your advantage and capitalize on your opponent's weaknesses but don't forget to play the cards. If you're being called on your position bet and the continuation fire, he's probably got the nuts. Remember, the nuts are the focus of Omaha. If you're new to the game, learn the rules and basic strategy and practice for fun or at a low stake level.