Omaha Poker Basics: Begin at the Beginning

Learn the basic elements that separate Omaha Poker from Texas Hold ‘Em.

While it lost some traction to Texas Hold ‘Em in the early 2000s and the online poker boom, pot Limit Omaha poker has come back to prominence in recent years because of events such as the World Series of Poker. Texas Hold ‘Em is an easier game to learn, but Omaha poker offers players bigger rewards and more of a challenge.

The Main Difference

Omaha plays almost exactly like Texas Hold ‘Em poker when it comes to betting and how the game is played out, but there’s one critical difference between the two. In Omaha poker, you are dealt four cards, but you can only use exactly two of those cards along with the cards that are dealt to the board in order to make a hand. In other words, even if you get AAAA through some fluke of mathematics, you only really have a pair of aces and must instead hope that the board plays out in such a way that you’re holding an ace-high flush or straight or what have you.

Many players find themselves attracted to Omaha because of this difference — they feel that receiving four cards will give them an advantage. What these neophytes rarely understand is that everyone at the table also gets that same advantage and while you may indeed find it easy to build a passable hand in Omaha, passable hands rarely win showdowns. There are twice as many cards in play in an Omaha game at any given time; two pair just won’t cut it anymore.

How To Cope With The Difference

You’ll need to tighten up more both pre and post-flop and thankfully, Omaha’s structures mean that pot-limit poker helps mitigate your losses on an individual hand if you do go in hot and heavy.

You’ll want to be much more aware of your suited connectors and maximizing them. In traditional hold ’em, having any straight or flush is going to win you the pot the vast majority of the time. This isn’t the case in Omaha; low flushes lose to higher flushes far more often.

The more important thing that a new Omaha player can understand is that they should always being playing for the high end, not lower. If you have a low draw off the bat, muck your cards and wait for the next hand. It’s often said that Omaha gives you twice as many chances to lose and while that isn’t exactly correct, it’s a good guide for the beginning player, telling them to be more conservative when they’re starting off.