Omaha High Basics
The aim of a round of Omaha High is very simple, you want to form the best possible five-card poker hand using your four hole cards and the five shared community cards. You need to use exactly two hole cards and three community cards, and as long as you make it to the end of the round and have the best hand, then you will win the pot.
The above point is very important as many new players forget that they can only use two hole cards. However, we shall return to these basic strategy points a bit later on.
A round is structured in a very similar way to Texas Hold’em, which means that the first three community cards are called the Flop, the fourth card is the Turn, and the fifth card is the River. At the end of the round, if there is only one player that has not folded, then they will win the pot without having to reveal their cards, if there are two or more players left, this is known as the showdown and the best hand will win the pot.
How to Play Omaha High
Just as with Texas Hold’em, Omaha High uses a dealer button to show the order of play in a round. At the start of each hand, the dealer button is moved one player to the left. Furthermore, before a round begins, the two compulsory bets are placed, the small blind and the big blind.
The small blind is the bet placed by the player sitting directly to the left of the dealer. It is placed before the cards are dealt and it is normally equally to the table minimum. For example, if the game is €1/€2, then the small blind is €1.
The big blind is placed by the player sitting directly to the left of the small blind, i.e. two seats to the left of the dealer. It is also placed before the cards are dealt and is normally equal to the higher end of the table stakes, so using the above example it would be €2.
The first betting round then takes place before the flop. Once the blinds have been placed, each player is dealt four face-down cards, known as hole cards. Once this is done, the first round of betting begins, starting with the player to the left of the big blind. Each player has a number of different actions that they can perform:
- Check: If you are the first player to bet in a betting round then there is the option to Check. This means that a player does not place a bet but remains in the round. However, it is not available in the first round as the big blind has already been placed and players must match that bet in order to continue.
- Bet: This is simply placing the first chips into the pot in a round of betting. The big blind is the first bet to be placed in the first round of betting for each hand.
- Call: This is when a player matches the last bet placed in a betting round.
- Raise: This is to increase the size of the bet by first calling and then raising the amount bet, which means that future players must match it in order to stay in the round.
- Fold: This means that a player abandons the hand and loses any chips that they have already placed in the pot.
- All-In: This type of bet can only be made in a no-limit game or in a fixed or pot limit game if a player has just enough or too few chips to call, bet or raise. The bet is made by placing all the chips into a separate pile near but not in the pot. A player can only win an amount equal to his/her own all-in bet, which is why the chips are kept separate.
When the betting returns to the small blind and big blind players, they have the option to call the current bet by adding the difference between their blind bet and the current bet. If no raise has been made, then the big blind has the option to check or bet.
Once the first betting round is complete, three cards are dealt to the centre of the table. These are community cards, which means that they are dealt face up and all players can use them. As mentioned, the cards are known as the flop.
The second betting round then begins starting with the first player to the left of the dealer who still remains in the hand. Betting then proceeds in the manner described above, meaning that players must match the bet or increase it if they wish to stay in the round.
The fourth community card, the turn, is then dealt to the centre of the table. It is followed by the third betting round, which follows exactly the same structure.
The fifth and final community card is then dealt to the table, known as the river. The final betting round takes place, which is the last chance for players to put chips into the pot before the winner is determined in the showdown.
The showdown only takes place if at least two people remain in the hand. If at any point there is just one player remaining due to all of the others folding, then that remaining player automatically wins the pot.
In the showdown, the remaining players use exactly two hole card and exactly three community cards to create the best possible five-card poker hand. The player with the highest ranking hand then wins the hand. If there is a tie then the pot is split.
Once the pot has been awarded, the game moves on to the next hand. This means that the dealer button moves one place to the left of the current dealer, the cards are shuffled, the small and big blinds are placed, and the process starts again.
Omaha High Hand Ranking
As should be clear, Omaha High is a very simple game that takes very little time to learn. However, to play successfully, you must have an excellent understanding of the different poker hands, as you need to be able to spot quickly and easily what potential hands you are holding.
The game uses the standard poker hands, which from strongest to weakest are as follows:
- Royal Flush – This is the strongest hand possible and it contains the cards 10, J, Q, K and A all from the same suit.
- Straight Flush – This is five cards in numerical order from the same suit; for example, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 of Clubs.
- Four of a Kind – This is a hand that contains four cards of same value, such as 3 Diamonds, 3 Clubs, 3 Spades, 3 Hearts.
- Full House – This is a hand that contains three of a kind together with a pair, for example, three 5s and two Jacks, the suit is irrelevant.
- Flush – This is a hand of five cards all from the same suit, for example, 4, 6, 8, 9 and Queen of Spades.
- Straight – This is five cards in numerical order, the suit is not important. For example, 4 Diamonds, 5 Clubs, 6 Hearts, 7 Spades, and 8 Diamonds.
- Three of a Kind – This is three cards of the same value and two unrelated cards. For example, 7 Clubs, 7 Diamonds, 7 Spades, 2 Spades and King Hearts.
- Two Pair – This is a hand that contains two individual pairs of cards and one unrelated card. For example, 6 Spades, 6 Hearts, 9 Diamonds, 9 Spades, 2 Hearts.
- Pair – This is a hand that contains two matching cards and three unrelated cards. For example, Jack Spades, Jack Clubs, 4 Diamonds, 6 Clubs, 8 Hearts.
- High Card – If a hand does not contain any of the above, then it is judged according to the highest value card in it.
Omaha High Strategy
It is possible to write books about poker strategy and there is no quick and simple way to explain it. However, the basic principle is to practice. You need to be able to spot what potential hands you hold and what you can draw to. You should also be thinking about how to read your fellow players, and this is an even more complicated area.
To start with, look for a place where you can play free games, online or with friends. This will allow you to become familiar with the game, the structure of a round, and to practice making the right decisions under pressure.
You will find plenty of strategy guides around that delve into the details, and these are definitely worth looking at. However, nothing will beat putting in the time actually playing the game. Omaha High is a hugely enjoyable and exciting game, and you now hopefully know all that you need to get started.