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Omaha Poker Sites

Omaha is a newer version of hold’em poker than Texas hold’em, but it is in the same family of card games. It has several versions, the most popular of which are Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO), Omaha Hi/Lo or Hi-Lo, and Omaha Eight-or-Better (Omaha/8). PLO remains the most frequently requested by poker players, and it is now commonly seen in most poker rooms – both live and online – around the world.

It is similar to Texas hold’em in that there are five community cards on the table, but each Omaha player receives four cards instead of two, though only two of them can be used in the final five-card hand.

Historical Perspective

Stories about the exact origin of Omaha poker vary, but one reputable version is that it began in Detroit in the 1970s as a game called Twice Three. Players spread the game throughout the northern and midwestern United States, ultimately changing names in various cities to the likes of Oklahoma Two by Four or Nine Cards when it reached Seattle.

Well-known poker tournament player Robert Turner was said to have brought the game to Las Vegas in the early 1980s, and it began to gain popularity at the Golden Nugget poker room. Manager Bill Boyd allowed it to be played as Nugget Hold’em. From there, it was introduced to some of the major poker tournament series in Las Vegas.

Omaha eventually became a staple in poker tournament series with multiple events, and it garnered more publicity during the poker boom when players took more time to analyze games. Players wrote about various Omaha strategies and noted its complexities, something that intrigued poker fans looking to incorporate more games into their repertoire.

Game Basics

The most popular version is pot-limit Omaha, which plays under the rule that the maximum bet can be equal to all the money in the pot and all bets on the table. The rest of the rules are similar to hold’em.

Each player receives four “down” cards, dealt face-down so only the player knows their value.

  • Round 1 of betting, players can check, bet, or fold.

The dealer puts three face-up cards in the middle of the table. Those community cards, or the flop, can be used by any player alone or in combination with two of their hole cards.

  • Round 2 of betting, players can check, bet, or fold.

The next community card is dealt, called the turn, making four total cards in the center of the table.

  • Round 3 of betting, players can check, bet, or fold.

The final community card, or the river, is dealt, which completes the board. Players now have a five-card hand, using exactly two of their own hole cards and three community cards.

  • Round 4 of betting, players can check, bet, or fold.

If more than one player remains after the final round of betting, the players show their hands in what is called a showdown, and the best card wins.

The hand rankings are as follows:

  1. Royal flush, an ace-high straight flush, such as A-K-Q-J-10 of the same suit.
  2. Straight flush, five cards in a row and of the same suit, i.e. 8-7-6-5-4 of the same suit.
  3. Four of a kind or quads, all four of the same card, i.e. all sevens.
  4. Full house or a boat, three of a kind and a pair of another, i.e. 9-9-9-2-2.
  5. Flush, any five cards of the same suit, i.e. A-J-10-4-3 of the same suit.
  6. Straight, five cards in a row, such as 9-8-7-6-5 of any suit.
  7. Three of a kind or trips, such as three jacks.
  8. Two pair, such as aces and eights.
  9. Pair, two of the same card, such as two jacks.
  10. High card, with no pairs or higher hands, the highest card wins, with ace ranking highest.

Beyond Basics

Omaha hi/lo is a popular variation of the game, and its rules differ in the final showdown. Players must be evaluating their possibilities throughout the hand to come up with a winning high hand and low hand. The high hand is determined in traditional rankings, as mentioned above, with an ace serving as the highest card. A low hand can include no pairs, and flushes and straights are ignored. The highest card in the low hand must be an eight or lower, and aces rank low. For example, a 2-3-4-5-6 hand is better than an A-2-3-4-7 because the six is lower than the seven.

The pot in an Omaha hi/lo game is split in half, one for the high hand and one for the low. A player can scoop the entire pot with the best high and low hands, but most often, one player takes the high and another captures the low. If no player has a qualifying low hand, the entire pot is awarded to the high hand winner.

Some of the same basic strategies in hold’em can be used for pot-limit Omaha play. Position is always important, and table image – tight or aggressive or a combination thereof – are also key. And cash game PLO versus tournament Omaha require different strategies as well.

Evaluating hands becomes more difficult. Though the number of outs remains the same, calculations differ because of the requirement to use only two hole cards. More math is involved in the analysis of hands and situations.

Strategy Considerations

Hands must be evaluated differently in PLO because of the requirement to use two hole cards. For example, two pair on the board in hold’em can often be a full house if the player has one of those cards in his or her hand, but only three of those community cards – not the four in the two pair – can be used in Omaha. Outs are then calculated differently. It’s also important not to overvalue hands that may be very valuable in hold’em, such as pocket aces.

In Omaha hi/lo, at least three of the community cards must be eight or below. This only happens in about 60% or 65% of hands, so low hands are often not a consideration. These games are often slower because it takes time to evaluate the low hands, as even the most skilled players don’t always recognize the winning hand right away.