Omaha Poker Rules and Game Structure

The rules of Omaha Poker are not too dis-similar from that of Texas Hold'em. For starters they are both from the same family of card games, better known as community card games. The principle difference between Omaha Poker and Hold'em lies with the number of hole cards that each player receives. The betting rounds and order of play are all the same as in Hold'em.

Omaha Poker Overview and basics
As in most poker games, the aim of the game is to make the best five card hand, from the combination of hole cards and community cards on offer. In Hold'em, players would do this using any combination of their two hole cards and the five that are dealt to the board. In Omaha, each player is dealt four hole cards instead of two and must use two of their hole cards in combination with three from the board.

For those used to playing Hold'em, the additional two hole cards gives players a greater chance of hitting a big hand, and so devalues the standard ranking of hands. In short this means you would likely need a stronger hand in Omaha to take down the pot (as players will be hitting bigger hands more frequently). If you are making the transition from Hold'em, you need to take this into account when determining your starting hand requirements.

Game Play & betting Structure
Before getting started, you will need a deck of cards, a dealer button and items to bet with. Shuffle the deck and deal everyone a card. The highest card takes the dealer button. You will need to agree a blind structure for your game, which can be incremental or static. For the purposes of this guide, let's assume the blinds are 0.50 - 1.

Before any cards are dealt, the player to the immediate left of the button should post the small blind of 0.50 and the player to his left, the big blind of 1. These are automatic bets that are made, regardless of whether players choose to play their hand, and ensures there is incentive in every pot. The button will move clockwise round the table, ensuring every player gets a chance to post the blinds.

The initial deal is four cards, face down, to each player. Then moving round the table clockwise (starting from the player to the left of the big blind), players would decide whether to play the hand or not. As in Hold'em, each player has the chance to:

Fold - choose not to play the hand. By folding, they exit the hand at this point and play no further part in the hand.

Call - a player would be said to 'call' when they match the largest bet made. If no bet has been made, they would match the value of the big blind.

Raise - bet more than the big blind, an amount which other players would need to at least match to stay in the hand.

Once each player has made their decision on whether to play or not, the first three cards, known as 'the flop', are dealt to the board. These are shared cards used by all players and are dealt face up. At this point, players will be able to use their best two hole cards with the three on the board, to make the best possible five card hand.

There is then another round of betting, and again players must decide based on the cards available, whether to continue in the hand. Once all players have acted, there is a fourth community card dealt, better known as 'the turn' or 'fourth street'. This is then followed by a third round of betting.

A fifth and final community card is then dealt to the board, known as 'the river' or 'fifth street'. At this stage players will know whether they have made their hand using any two hole cards and three on the board to make the best possible five card hand. There is a final round of betting, followed by showdown.

At showdown, players turn over their cards and the best hand wins the pot.

Omaha Poker Variations
There are a number of different Omaha Poker variations that are played today. Here are some of the most popular variations:

Omaha High
Omaha High is the standard game that has no betting caps, in which the best or highest hand wins the pot.
Pot Limit Omaha
The most popular is probably Pot Limit Omaha (also referred to as PLO), in which there is a betting cap, in which players can't bet more than the pot (hence the 'pot limit').

Omaha High Low Split
Also known as Omaha High Low or Omaha High Low 8 or Better. The only difference in this game is that the player with the best qualifying low hand shares the pot with the player with the best qualifying high hand. One player could win both - this is known as scooping the pot.


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