How To Play Omaha
Monday, 1. February 2010

Omaha Poker is very similar to Texas Hold’em and enjoys more popularity in Europe than it does in the United States. That having been said, you will find Omaha being played in just about every casino poker room in the United States. Omaha is played with three different betting structures; Limit, No Limit and Pot Limit.

Understanding the rules of Omaha does not require an advanced degree in mathematics but mastery of the game can take a lifetime. Even if you are an excellent student of Texas Hold’em, it is highly recommended that you play in some low limit games before you charge headlong into high limit games and lose your shirt. Generally, the lowest limit that you will find in a casino is $2/$4 but you will have no problem finding plenty of games running online with limits in the penny range.

The Game
The game opens with each player being dealt four cards face down, known as the “hole” cards, and then five community cards are dealt face up on the table for all the to see. The object of Omaha is to make the best five card hand using any combination of two of the four hole cards and three of the five community cards. For the sake of this article, we will assume a betting structure of $1/$2. There are four betting rounds in Omaha; the first two having a betting limit of $1 and the last two rounds having a limit of $2. One must bet or raise only the amount of the limit for that particular betting round.

The Blinds
The first act performed in a game of Omaha, before any cards are dealt, is the posting of the “Blind” bets or “The Blinds.” In the first hand of the game, the player immediately to the left of the dealer posts the small blind, equal to half of the minimum bet which for our purposes is $0.50. The player seated to the left of the small blind posts the “big blind,” equal to the minimum bet which for our purposes is $1. Players do not deal in casinos, or online for that matter. The casino employs professional dealers whose job it is to shuffle and deal the cards. Casino dealers do not play in the games. To signify the position of dealer, a dealer button is used that rotates one player to the left with the passing of each hand. As the dealer button rotates, each player at the table eventually acts as dealer, small blind and big blind.

Pre-flop
Each player is dealt their four hole cards face down with the small blind receiving the first card and the player with the dealer button receiving the last card. The first round of betting begins with the player to the left of the big blind either putting in $1 to “call” the big blind or putting in $2 to “raise” the big blind or simply folding their hand. The betting continues in this way around the table until it reaches the small blind. If no one has raised, the small blind may either meet the big blind, raise the big blind or fold. If one of the players did raise then the small blind may either meet the raise or fold. The last player to act is the player who posted the big blind. In the event that none of the players have raised, the dealer will then ask the big blind if they would like the option. This means that the big blind has the option to either check or raise. By checking, the big blind does not have to put in any more money as they have already posted the requisite bet.

The Flop
Once the first round of betting is concluded, the first three community cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table. This is known the “Flop.” Now, the second round of betting begins with the first active player left of the dealer button. This player may either “check” or place a bet. The corresponding bet for the second round of betting is $1.

The Turn
Once the second round of betting is concluded, the fourth community card is dealt face up in the middle of the table. This is known as the “Turn.” Now, the third round of betting begins with the first active player left of the dealer button, yet again. The corresponding bet for the third round of betting is $2.

The River
Once the third round of betting is concluded, the fourth community card is dealt face up in the middle of the table. This is known as the “River.” Now, the fourth and final round of betting begins with the first active player left of the dealer button. The corresponding bet for the fourth round of betting is $2.

The Showdown
Now that the last of the betting rounds has reached completion, we are ready for the “Showdown” to determine who wins the pot. The best five card hand combination comprised of two of the four hole cards and three of the five community cards claims victory and the pot. Unlike Texas Hold’em, two of the four hole cards and three of the five community cards MUST be used in making the five card hand regardless of whether the best five card combination lies in the five community cards.

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