Omaha Hi is a version of Texas Hold’Em where players are dealt four hole cards instead of two. But there’s a catch: two and only two of the hole cards can be used in making the final hand. Omaha Hi is also known as Omaha Hold’Em or simply Omaha.
The four hole cards make Omaha a nine-card game and having more cards to choose from means players will typically finish with stronger hands. Poker players being the people that they often are, the possibility of higher hands typically means that players stay in longer and the pots will grow accordingly.
In practice, Hold’Em players will find that the focus in Omaha Hi tends more towards playing the cards than playing the other players.
For the basics of Omaha, see Texas Hold’Em rules below. The only variations are:
- the player is dealt four hole cards.
- the player makes their final hand from two of the four hole cards and three of the five community cards.
Since the name of the game in Omaha is to assemble the killer hand, it essentially becomes a drawing game. You take the possibilities you’re dealt with the hole cards, determine what you can make out of it, watch the community cards as they fall with a careful eye on what they’re doing to your chances and bail if it becomes clear that things are going sour. You can burn off a lot of chips hanging around to see if things improve.
The strategy guidelines for Omaha run into the dozens because of the number of cards in play and the two-from-four rule. To make a long story short, it’s generally advised that you stay in if your hole cards integrate well –that is, they form the beginnings of several good hands– and muck them if they don’t.
Rookie Omaha players are often suckered in by a solid pack of hole cards or a strong string of community cards. Remember, Four to a Flush in the hole is useless because you only get to keep two of them. Ditto with the community cards. There is no point to betting on cards you can’t keep so remember: two hole cards, three community cards, no exceptions, period.
Watch out for busted hands in the initial deal: two cards might start a Straight and the others a Flush, but there’s no crossover in that you can’t recombine the cards to form yet another hand, like a Straight Flush for instance. To avoid chasing rainbows, muck pairs of orphans unless they’re top-nut beginnings.
Beware of “second nut” hands, those where even if you got what you needed it still wouldn’t be a boss hand. Many an Omaha player has gone home with empty pockets and the haunting feeling that they should’ve learned something from the experience. Second nut is second place –if you’re lucky– and you should play accordingly.
Finally, don’t stay in hoping things will get better. If the flop goes against you, muck out because if those three cards haven’t helped you the chances are that nothing else will. The smart money says keep your chips for the next hand.