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Omaha Poker Rules

By Gary Steele

There are three main variations of poker you can find in any online poker room. Some rooms offer others, but for the most part you will find Hold’em, 7 Card Stud, and Omaha everywhere you go. Omaha is a poker variation played very much like Hold’em with a few small differences which completely change the power structure of the hands. If you are familiar with Hold’em, the most popular poker game in the world, many of the Omaha rules will already be familiar to you. You will be able to quickly pick up Omaha, though it will take a while for you to learn which hands win pots.

Before you play you need to know the one thing every poker game has in common: Hand Ranking. Check out the Poker Hand Rankings chart to see all of the possible poker hands in order from best to worst. At the end of each poker hand, the player with the five card combination ranked highest on the Poker Hand Ranking list wins. If two or more players have the same ranked hand, the pot is split evenly between them.

Simply put, Omaha is Hold’em with four cards dealt face down. Only two of these cards can be used to make your final hand. Read on for a more complete explanation.

Basic Description

Omaha, in its simplest form, is a variation of poker where every player at the table first receives four cards face down. After a round of bets by all players, three cards are placed on the table face up (these three cards are called The Flop). After another round of betting a fourth card is placed face up on the table (this card is called The Turn). After another round of betting the fifth and final card is placed face up on the table (this card is called The River). After all five community cards are face up on the table, a final round of betting takes place and the players left in the hand show their four face-down cards. The player who has the five card combination consisting of two cards in their hand and three face-up cards on the table of the highest Hand Ranking wins the hand.

Betting and the Blinds

Betting moves clockwise and always starts with the player to the left of the dealer. Omaha usually has forced bets called Blinds. Before each hand is dealt, the player immediately to the left of the dealer places a bet called the small blind and the player to the left of this player places a larger bet called the big blind. The amount of the blinds is set beforehand and is typically an indicator of the size of the pots at the table. A table with a $5 big blind will produce bigger pots than a table with a $2 big blind. At a $2 table the small blind is usually $1 and the big blind will be $2.

The first round of betting (when all players only have four face-down cards) requires a minimum bet equal to at least the amount of the big blind to stay in the hand. The round of betting following The Flop also requires a minimum bet equal to the big blind. The last two rounds of betting (after the 4th and 5th face up cards) require a minimum bet equal to twice the big blind.

Example of Play

If you were involved in a typical hand of Omaha poker at a $1 big blind limit table your experience may go something like this:

  1. You are dealt Ace, King Spades and 9, 2 of Hearts face down;
  2. Betting starts with the player to the left of the Big Blind and he calls $1;
  3. You and two other players after you call the $1 bet, everyone else folds;
  4. The flop is placed face up on the table and is Ace, 8, 2;
  5. The player to the left of the dealer bets $1, you call the bet with $1;
  6. The other two players fold leaving you and the betting player;
  7. The Turn is an Ace giving you a Full House (Aces and 2’s);
  8. The other player bets $2 (minimum bet now);
  9. You raise $2 by putting $4 in the pot, the other player calls $2;
  10. The last card is flipped face up (The River) and is a 5;
  11. The player to the left of the dealer Checks (bets nothing);
  12. You bet $2 and the other player calls it by putting $2 in the pot.

Now the two of you show your facedown cards. Your best five cards in this case make a Full House, Ace (in your hand), Ace (on the table), Ace (on the table), 2 (in your hand), 2 (on the table). The other two cards in your hand (King and 9) and the other two cards on the table (8 and 3) are not used in making up your hand. Your opponent shows a 3 and a 4, giving him a Straight (Ace through 5). Since your Full House beats his Straight on the Hand Ranking Chart you win the money in the pot.

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