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Basic Rules of Omaha Poker

How To Play Omaha Poker

Basic Rules of Omaha Poker

In a game of Omaha Poker, every player is given a total of nine cards – four-hole cards and five community cards. As you must have spotted, a major difference between Omaha and Texas Hold’em is the distribution of four-hole cards (pocket cards) instead of two. Once you are dealt with these cards on the table, what should be your objective of the game? Well, it is to create the best five-card poker hand using only two of the hole cards and three of the community cards.

If you’ve been playing Texas Hold’em for a while, and suddenly made the switch to Omaha Poker, you will find it difficult in the initial stages to stop yourself from considering more than two pocket cards for forming your five-card hand.

After receiving the pocket cards, the round of betting begins in the clockwise direction, beginning with the player who is seated to the left side of the big blind. Then, the community cards are dealt on the table as shared ones. You have to continue placing your bets.

Before you proceed further to understand the various Omaha Poker rules and variations involved, you need to get an understanding of the Omaha hand rankings so that you have complete clarity on which cards in your hand and on the center table can help you to win in Omaha Poker. For this purpose, you can check out the top ten poker hand rankings as discussed on the poker rules page.

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Possible Actions with Cards in Omaha Poker

Let us understand the flow at the start of an Omaha Poker game, where your aim is to win Omaha Poker hands.

  •  A dealer button is used at the start of every hand to determine the players who will place the ‘small blind’ bet and the ‘big blind’ bet initially.

  • Once these two compulsory bets are placed, every player is dealt four cards face-down in the form of pocket cards/hole cards.

  • Now, the first round of betting starts from the player located to the left of the big blind.

Once the action starts on the table in the clockwise direction in a game of Omaha Poker, your chance is not far away. When you get your chance to play, you can take any one of the following possible actions on the basis of the action taken by the previous players (in a similar way as for other variants of poker):

  • Check

This action of checking indicates your refusal to bet (or open the betting). You can check only when there is no bet in the existing round, and the action opportunity gets passed to the next person in a clockwise direction for that hand. In this case, you keep the cards with you.

  • Fold

As the name suggests, this action refers to the act of you forfeiting your cards and withdrawing any possibility of you taking any action in the existing hand. You give up the opportunity to win the current hand and wait for the next deal.

  • Raise

You can choose to ‘raise’ and match the highest bet as well as put in a greater bet amount. The subsequent players are then supposed to call the ‘raise’ (match the highest bet which will be the amount placed for the raised bet) or ‘raise again’ (put a bet higher than the highest bet till then) in order to stay in that hand.

  • Call

You can choose to ‘call’ and match the highest bet to stay alive in the hand. Here, you can bet if your opponents have placed bets during the current round.

  • Bet

You can choose to ‘bet’ even if no other players have chosen to ‘bet’ in the existing round. Once you opt to ‘bet’ and place the first chips for the pot in a betting round, your opponent players have to ‘call’ by matching the amount of your bet if they intend to stay in the hand. For example, in the first betting round, the Big Blind places the first ‘bet’ in the pot.

Different Betting Rounds

Now that you have understood the actions to be taken when your turn arrives on the table for an Omaha Poker game, you can learn about the various betting rounds and how you can play them to win Omaha Poker hands as per corresponding Omaha rules applicable below: 

Blinds

Before the actual betting round begins, you have a round where money/chips are collected in the pot. You won’t have any motivation to win the hand if there are no chips in the pot and you would tend to fold more frequently, isn’t it?

For this purpose, two players on the table are made to place forced / compulsory bets initially. But, prior to that, a dealer button is used to decide the order of play in a particular hand. This button moves to the player on the left at the end of each hand. The player who sits immediately clockwise from the dealer (one with the ‘marker button’ or the ‘dealer button’ or ‘button’) has to place the first forced bet – known as the ‘small blind’ (which is generally equivalent to the lower end of the table). The next clockwise player from the small blind player will be the player who is forced to post a ‘big blind’ (usually equivalent to the higher end of the table), which is typically twice the overall size of the ‘small blind’.

The overall size of these blinds will determine the stakes of the poker game you would play. In case of a situation where you do not have enough chips stack to make the blind bet, you have to put everything you have at stake. When there are just two players left in the game, the dealer is expected to post the ‘big blind’, whereas the other player has to post the ‘small blind’.

Pre-Flop

This is the betting round that kickstarts once all the players are dealt with the hole cards but are yet to receive any of the community cards. As mentioned above, in this round, the first bet is placed by the Big Blind into the pot, and the round starts from the player situated to the left of the Big Blind. This player can ‘call’ the amount placed by the Big Blind or can ‘raise’ and increase the bet amount, or can choose to ‘fold’.

You cannot opt for ‘check’ in the first betting round that begins with the player seated to the left of the Big Blind. This is because there is a bet already placed by the Big Blind and so you have to match that bet if you wish to continue in that hand.

The Flop

This is the betting round in which bets are placed after three community cards are dealt face-up on the board to all the players still active. These community cards are shared by all the active players, which is the reason why they are dealt face-up so that everyone can see them clearly. This round starts with the player who is immediately clockwise from the dealer (the button).

This betting shall continue till all the players on the table who have decided to continue in the hand place an equal number of chips into the pot. Of course, if you do not wish to proceed, you can simply ‘fold’ your cards and play no part till the next hand starts.

The Turn

This is the round of bets that need to be placed after the fourth community card is dealt face-up to the center of the table. The round of betting follows a similar pattern as the one discussed above in ‘the flop’ round.

The River

In this round of betting, the bets are made after the fifth / final community card is dealt face-up on the center of the table. This is the last opportunity for every player on the table to add chips into the pot.

For every round of betting, the betting continues till each player either matches the bets placed or folds up. In case of no bets made by any of the players, the round completes when every player has taken the action to ‘check’.

Showdown

Once the last round of betting is completed, and there is more than one player remaining on the table, then only will the showdown take place where the last person who put a bet/raise will display his / her cards. Say if there was no bet in the last round, the player who is immediately clockwise direction from the dealer (marker button) shall display his / her cards first. Now, who turns out to be the winner?

The player with the best-ranking hand is declared as the winner of the pot. In case of an exact tie between two or more players, the pot is shared. There can be a situation in different poker games where multiple players can share the pot, based on the rules of that game.

If there is a situation where only a single player remains in the hand because every other player on the table has folded, then that remaining player wins the pot even without having to show his / her cards.

Once the winner is determined, the game moves to the next hand. Now, the dealer button is shifted to the player seated to the immediate left of the current dealer. The cards are reshuffled, and the blinds are placed by the next two players, and the cards are dealt again.

Types of Betting

There are various betting structures possible for Omaha Poker. The most popular ones are as described below:

  • No Limit

As the name indicates, this ‘no limit’ poker game does not have any limit on the ‘bet’ or ‘raise’ action that you can perform. You can place any amount of bet in any of the betting rounds, even betting the entire set of chips you possess at that point in time.

  • Pot Limit

Here, you are free to bet or raise an amount up to and including the overall size of the total pot at that given point in time.

  • Fixed Limit

With this betting structure variant, you can place a bet or choose to call or raise by an amount that is fixed in advance for the betting round. In this variant, you can raise a pot for a maximum of four times as well as the ‘bet’ or ‘raise’ should be equivalent to the size of the blinds. As the limit is fixed, a lot of players find it relatively inexpensive to remain in the game and so do not ‘fold’ easily.

Variations of Omaha Poker Game

You will realize that the Omaha Poker rules are quite similar to the rules applicable for various other poker games. There are some differences with regards to the rules for Texas Hold’em. And within Omaha range of poker games, there are certain differences which have given rise to variations of this highly popular poker game.

  • Omaha High

This game involves the same objective as for Texas Hold’em where every player aims to the pot with the best five-card poker hand.

  • Omaha 8-or-better / Omaha Hi/Lo

In this variation of Omaha Poker game, the pot is split into two winning amounts – one for the best high hand and one for the best low hand.

  • Run it Twice 

Wouldn't it be nice to have some protection while playing poker?! Well the Run it Twice tables at Spartan Poker will do just that for you.

Having the RIT option means that all-in players will get to see the remaining community cards twice instead of the usual once. The pot is then split into two, half for the first set of community cards, and the other half for the second. RIT tables are only used in cash game and not tournaments.

The Verdict

Omaha Poker is a highly fascinating game of poker, and its rules are quite easy to understand, especially if you are already used to the rules of Texas Hold’em poker game. So, it makes sense for you to first get some good game time on Spartan Poker. So, start playing online poker with real money.