Omaha Hi

published on 11/18/05 at 8:49 am

Rules

Omaha Hi (known as Omaha) is a variant of Poker which is played similarly to Texas Hold’em. Both games share much of the rules. However, the little differences in Omaha allows more frequency of stronger hands to develop through the latter stages of the community cards.

In Omaha, four upcards are dealt instead of the two in Texas Hold’em. However, only two of these upcards can be used to make a hand. After a round of bets at this point, three upcards are then dealt on the middle of the table. These three cards are referred to as ‘The Flop’. After another round of betting, a fourth upcard is dealt alongside the flop. This card is referred to as ‘The Turn’. After another round of betting, a fifth and final upcard is dealt alongside the turn. This card is referred to as ‘The River’. After all five ‘Community Cards’ have been dealt on the table, a final round of betting occurs and the remaining active players show their four downcards. The player who has the best five card combination using only two downcards in his hand and three upcards on the table wins the pot.

Betting moves clockwise, always starting with the player to the left of the dealer. Omaha also has forced bets called ‘Blinds’. Before each hand is dealt, the player to the left of the dealer places a bet called a ‘Small Blind’. This player is also referred to as ‘The Small Blind’. The player to the left of the small blind must then place a larger bet called a ‘Big Blind’. Likewise, this player is also referred to as ‘The Big Blind’. The price of the blinds are established before play begins.

During the first two rounds of betting, both before and after the flop, the minimum bet players can make to stay in the hand must be equal to the price of the big blind. However, during the last two rounds of betting, after the turn and after the river, the minimum bet must equal double the price of the big blind.

Glossary & Definitions

Hole Cards: The first four downcards dealt to each player.
The Flop: The three upcards dealt on the middle of the table.
The Turn: The fourth upcard dealt alongside the flop.
The River: The fifth upcard dealt alongside the turn.
Pot: The total amount of money the player with the best hand wins.
Bet: An increment of money placed into the pot.
Check: Not making a bet when no one has bet beforehand.
Call: Placing an equal bet to remain in a hand.
Raise: Increasing the bet that others must make to remain in a hand.
Pot Odds: An estimation of the profitability of a potential bet.
Rags: A bad hand.
Bluffing: Bets and raises designed to force players to fold when you have rags.
Bad Beat: Losing a pot to a great hand when you have a good hand.
Pocket Pair: Two of the four hole cards of the same value.
Bullets or Pocket Rockets: Two Aces of the four hole cards.
Big Slick: Ace and King of the four hole cards.
Suited: Two of the four hole cards of the same Suit.
Connectors: Two of the four hole cards in sequence (4-5, J-Q, etc).
Boat: A full house.
Trips: A three of a kind.
Flopping A Hand: A good hand made only from the Flop.
On A Draw: Needing a turn or river card to make a good hand.
Open Ended Straight Draw: A hand with four cards in sequence, and needing one of either two possible cards on the turn or river to make a straight.
Inside Straight Draw: A hand missing one card in the middle to make a straight.
Flush Draw: A hand with four suited cards needing a fifth on the turn or river to make a flush.
Overcards: When the flop doesn’t give you a pair, but your hole cards are individually higher than the three in the flop.
Outs: The number of cards needed on the turn or river to make a winning hand.
Limit: Bets and raises set at a fixed price.
Pot Limit: Bets and raises cannot exceed the value of the pot.
No Limit: No limit to the price of a bet throughout a hand.

Strategy

The flow of Omaha pretty much resembles that of Texas Hold’em, but with more twists and looser action. In order to adapt to which hands most regularly win in Omaha, gaining experience by playing a lot of hands is advisable. Generally, the best hands in Texas Hold’em usually are the best hands in Omaha. However, due to there being four downcards instead of two, full houses and flushes are more frequent in Omaha. Experience will teach you this, but it is important to remember this from the outset when analyzing your outs, your pot odds, and the bets/raises of your opponents as the community cards unfold.

For this reason, Omaha is an easier game to win money in as most players are over-enthusiastic with their play. They tend to be over-eager to pay anything just to see the flop. Finding these players is easy, look for tables with the higher average amount bet per hand.

Playing conservatively but raising before the flop is a good way to start winning quickly. The best way though to fatten a bankroll is to win a lot of small-to-moderate pots, relying on patience and observation, and steering clear of the bigger pots. Simply, involving oneself in the bigger pots enough times means the bigger losses will happen more often. Having a good, but not the best possible, hand, should be the trigger to fold when the pot odds are not that flash.

Calculating odds is more important in Omaha than it is in Texas Hold’em. Again, this is due to each player having an extra two hole cards, and a smaller deck. In Omaha, however, the calculations revolve around your opponents’ odds of beating you, not your own outs odds. For instance, you could have a high-flush, and there are no pairs on the board, but your opponent remains in the hand. This would indicate that they are on the verge of a full house. Calculating their odds of getting their outs and appreciating the fact that more often they will get them in Omaha, is fundamental to any betting strategy. Calculating their odds, and playing within your percentages, gives you a subtle advantage over those opponents who go where eagles dare. In this scenario, folding may be a better outcome than losing half your bankroll in a shootout you could have seen coming.

So, as soon as you get a strong hand on the flop, force as many players as you can to fold. There are too many available cards, and shorter outs odds, that players with bad hole cards can stay active and flop a hand from the community cards, especially in the turn and river. Bet large enough to make chasing cards unprofitable for your opponents. Quite often in these situations of card chasing, your opponents will call these large destructor bets, helping only to fatten your bankroll when the dust settles. More so in Omaha, understand and learn from experience, that more often than not, a lot of unavoidable good luck lands in the lap of the worst players. Most tight players get so frustrated by this that they return to playing the more predictable Poker games instead. In Omaha, prevention is always better than the cure. By playing conservatively and within odds calculations, more money will be won than lost.

Out of Eden is a regular contributor to PokerPlasm.com. He also contributes articles to other sites about world travel, political affairs, and Aussie Rules Football.

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