Omaha is a community card poker game similar to Texas hold 'em. It seems that it was first introduced in the 1980's, but it quickly achieved great popularity among casino and tournament players. In Omaha, each player is dealt four cards and must make their best hand using exactly two of them, plus exactly three of the five community cards. Omaha uses a 52-card French deck.
The original game is also commonly known as "Omaha high". A high-low split version called "Omaha Hi-Lo", or sometimes "Omaha eight-or-better" or "Omaha/8", is also played. "Omaha" typically refers to the high version of the game, usually played pot-limit. Pot-limit Omaha is often abbreviated as "PLO.
How to play Omaha
Dealing and Betting
Omaha is usually played with no ante, but with blinds. When there are more than two players, the player to dealer's left places a small blind, and the next player to the left a big blind. The big blind is equal to the minimum bet and the small blind is typically half that amount. When there are only two players (a "heads-up" game), the dealer places the small blind and the non-dealer the big blind.
The cards are shuffled and cut, the dealer "burns" one card and then deals the cards one at a time face down until each player has four cards. These are known as the player's hole cards or pocket cards. Players may look at their four hole cards and must not show them to any other player.
The first betting round is begun by the player to the left of the big blind. The blinds count as bets, so the small blind need only pay the difference between the blinds to call. The big blind player acts last and is allowed to raise, even if the other active players have all called.
After the first betting round the dealer burns one card and deals three cards face up to the table. These three cards are known as the flop. There is then a second betting round begun by the first active player to the left of the dealer seat.
When the second betting round is complete, the dealer burns a card and then deals one card face up to the table. This card is known as the turn or fourth street. There is then a third betting round, again begun by the first active player to the left of the dealer seat.
After the third betting round the dealer burns another card and deals one more card face up - the river or fifth street. There is fourth and final round of betting before the showdown, again begun by the first active player to the left of the dealer seat.
A maximum of eleven players can be dealt a hand in Omaha, regardless of whether or not burn cards are used, however Omaha is most commonly played six handed or nine handed.
The basic differences between Omaha and Texas hold 'em are these: first, each player is dealt four hole cards instead of two. The betting rounds and layout of community cards are identical. At showdown, each player's hand is the best five-card hand made from exactly three of the five cards on the board, plus exactly two of the player's own cards. Unlike Texas hold 'em, a player cannot play four or five of the cards on the board with fewer than two of their own.
Active players show all four of their cards in clockwise order, beginning with the who was the last to bet or raise in the final betting round. If everyone checked in the final betting round, the first active player to the left of the dealer seat is the first to show.
Each player makes the highest possible five-card poker hand using exactly two of their own cards with exactly three of the face-up table cards, which are known as the board.
Some specific things to notice about Omaha hands are:
Pot-limit Omaha ( frequently shortened to PLO), Second best flushes and straights can be, and frequently become, losing hands, especially when a player is willing to commit their entire stack to the pot. Furthermore, because of the exponential growth of the pot size in pot-limit play, seeing one of these hands to the end can be very expensive and carry immense reverse implied odds.
Five Card Omaha
This is exactly like normal Omaha except that each player is dealt five private cards. As in four-card Omaha, hands are formed of exactly two private cards with exactly three board cards. There are five-card versions of Omaha High and of Omaha/8. These games, and the six-card game below, are sometimes known as Big O.
Six Card Omaha
This is the same as normal Omaha except that each player is dealt six private cards. As usual, hands must use exactly two private cards and three board cards.
This variant is popular in France and has spread to other parts of Europe, including the UK. Five hole cards are dealt to each player and in addition, one card is dealt face up to the table before the first betting round. After the first betting round a card is burned and two more are dealt face up to the table to complete the three-card flop, and there is a second betting round. Then as in normal Omaha a fourth table card (the turn) is dealt face up followed by a third betting round, and a fifth table card (the river) is dealt, followed by a final betting round. In the showdown, players must use exactly two of their five hole cards together with exactly three of the five table cards to make their hand, and the best hand wins the pot.