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Omaha Poker Rules

Page summary: A review of the rules and basic strategy behind the variations of Omaha Poker.

Omaha Poker Rules - How to Play Omaha

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Omaha Poker has become increasingly popular and has advanced to the world stage. Omaha Hi/Lo has made its way to the World Series of Poker and has taken to casino tables all around the world. With the expansion of online gaming providing non-stop action at all stake levels, Omaha Poker is constantly luring new waves of players.

There are a few variations of Omaha Poker that are commonly played. Omaha Hi and Omaha Hi/Lo are the two formats you will most regularly see in the casino. If you're a Texas Holdem player, the concepts and rules in Omaha Hi will seem very familiar. Omaha Hi/Lo throws in a few twists that will take a little adjustment for the Texas Holdem player.


Omaha Poker is a flop, turn, river game. If you're new to poker, this concept will be further explained. The basic structure of both formats of Omaha, Omaha Hi and Omaha Hi/Lo, begins with two players placing the blinds. The player to the dealer's left will be the small blind and to the left of the small blind is the big blind. Most poker games use either blinds or antes. In Omaha, blinds are normally used.

The dealer will deal each player four hole cards. Hole cards are cards that are face down and are only to be viewed by the player they belong to. After the initial deal, the first betting round begins. The betting goes around the table in a clockwise motion starting with the player under the gun. This refers to the player sitting to the big blind's left. This player has the option to fold, call the big blind or raise.

After the initial betting round, the flop is dealt. The flop is a series of three community cards that are face-up and can be used by all of the players at the table. After the flop, betting begins for the second round.

After the betting, the turn is dealt. The turn is simply one more community card. A third betting round takes place and the final community card is dealt. This is referred to as the river. There is a final betting round after the river and a showdown occurs if necessary.

To review, at the end of the hand there will be five community cards and four hole cards in your hand. Now, the rules for Omaha are a little different from Texas Holdem in how you have to formulate your hand. You have to use two cards from your hole cards and three from the community cards to formulate the best five-card hand. The best hand depends on which format of Omaha you're playing.

A lot of Holdem players get confused with the four hole cards concept and think some hands are better than they actually are. There are no exceptions, you have to use (and can only use) two of your four hole cards. The five community cards cannot all be played, only three of them may be used to complete the hand.

Omaha Hi - Strategy

In Omaha Hi, the concepts are fairly simple. The highest poker hand wins. Remember that you can still only use three of the community cards and two of your hole cards. The hand ranking system is the same as in Texas Holdem and is universally the standard ranking system.

In Omaha Hi, you generally want to play tight. The hands that win in Omaha Hi on average are considered monster hands in Texas Holdem. In Texas Holdem, top pair, bottom set or two pair win the hand the majority of the time. In Omaha Hi, straights, flushes and boats (full house) primarily win on average.

You want to have a top pair with an Ace in your hand or connecting cards with some of the four being suited generally in Omaha Hi. This is for starting hands and the reasoning is that you want to have a lot of outs for major draws going into the flop. Remember, the focus of Omaha Hi is to build the monster because anything less than that is unlikely to win in Omaha Hi. The tightest player tends to do the best in Omaha but you also have to consider your position and play accordingly.

Omaha Hi/Lo - Strategy

The hand ranking for the high end in Omaha Hi/Lo is exactly the same as in Omaha Hi. The difference comes with the low hand. In Hi/Lo formats, the highest hand is entitled to half the pot and the lowest hand is entitled to the other half. However, the low hand has to qualify in most games and if there is not a qualifying low hand, the high hand scoops the entire pot.

The objective in Omaha Hi/Lo is to try to take down the entire pot. Make sure if you're going to stay in the hand that you are taking down at last half of the pot. The same goes for Omaha Hi/Lo - the tightest player is generally the most successful.

In Omaha Hi/Lo, the low hand must qualify. This means that the highest card in the hand cannot exceed eight. This concept is also used in 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo, otherwise referred to as 7 Card Stud 8 or Better. The best low hand is the wheel. The wheel is referring to the hand, A-2-3-4-5.

This hand will guarantee the low end of the pot and can also win on the high end with a 5-high straight. Straights and flushes do not count against the low value of the hand in Omaha Hi/Lo. The strategy behind Omaha Hi/Lo is to play hands that guarantee one side of the pot and have a chance to win the entire pot.

Omaha is an interesting game that can be very profitable if you know what you're doing. The biggest thing to remember is that you have to use two of your hole cards and three of the community cards. This is stressed because so many Holdem players struggle with this concept and misread their hands. Play position poker and don't be afraid to fold. The later you are to act, the better your position is.

The player that is the dealer has the best position on the table. Be wise with your hand selection and know the difference between a hand that you may play on the button but should certainly fold under the gun. If you're a Holdem player, you should start out playing some Omaha Hi and get the feel of the format. The hand ranking structure is identical to Holdem. Once you become familiar in this format, give Omaha Hi/Lo a shot.