Official Omaha Poker Rules

Why play poker? It's the only game in the casino where there is no house advantage; in fact, you don't play against the house, only against other players. If you don't get good cards, you can always fold right away, paying no money – only 2 hands in 10 are you required to bet.

Omaha is a poker game in which each player receives 4 cards facedown. These are their “hole cards” and only they will know which cards they have. The dealer will then lay a total of 5 cards face-up on the table. These are community cards which any player can use to complete their hand.

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All players play their best 5-card hand but every hand must consist of exactly 2 hole cards and 3 community cards. Omaha is a very popular game in both live and online casinos, second only to Texas Hold'em.

Omaha is generally played as a structured betting game, such as $4/$8 – meaning that opening bets and after the flop bet will be four dollars, and all subsequent bets will be eight dollars. The only way to make it higher is if a player chooses to “re-raise” another player, for example, I bet $4, then you raise me by $4 dollars, and I re-raise you another $4; now we've both put $12 in the pot. Most games will have a cap – in a $4/$8 game it may be $16 or $20 – to ensure that things don't get out of control. There are other types of games such as no-limit (where you can raise all you want) and pot-limit, meaning you can raise the total value of all the money in the pot at any given time. But for simplicity's sake, we'll discuss the structured betting style in this article, because that's how the majority of Omaha games are run.

How much money do you need to play? The usual “buy-in” for games is 10 to 20 times the maximum bet; so at a casino that posted a 10 times max bet buy-in, we'd need $80 to sit down at the $4/$8 table.

One note on winning hands; for a single pair, a “kicker” is your highest single card, and may be the only thing that lets you win. Say you have the following hand: Q-Q-A-4-7 and another player shows this hand: K-6-Q-Q-9 – both of you have a pair of Queens , but your Ace kicker will beat his King for the win.

Kicker's work on identical two-pair hands also; and for all other hands, just remember that a flush with high cards (like J-9-2-4-7 of spades) will beat a flush with low cards; (3-4-8-9-2 of spades.) Same applies for straights and full houses. A full house of 5-5-5-2-2 beats a full house of 2-2-5-5-5.

That should be a good reminder of what we're looking for, let's take a look at how the game is played.

A yellow button marked “D” sits in front of one of the players. Each hand, the button is moved around the table to the left; this is done because there is an advantage to playing from “dealers” position – because you are the last person to act, you get to see what everyone before you has done; checked, bet, or raised – before deciding how you are going to play. For this reason, the dealer position moves every hand and is indicated by this yellow button.

Whether in online or live casino play, remember that all the cards are dealt by a house dealer, who isn't playing the game. This button just show's where the action ends.

Every game begins with the “posting of the blinds” – these are mandatory bets made by the two players sitting to the left of the dealer button. The player to the immediate left of the dealer button is the “small blind” – usually ½ the value of the minimum bet. So, on a $4/$8 table, this would be a $2 bet. The player to their left is the “big blind” – a bet equal to the minimum table bet, in this case $4. These bets are in effect so that there will always be an incentive for someone to play the hand.

The real betting starts after each player has been dealt their 4 hole cards. Starting with the small blind, each player is given the choice to ante up or fold their cards. The small blind only has to put in another $2 to play – since they've already had to bet $2. The big blind doesn't have to put in anything – they can play because their $4 is already in the pot. All other players either have to ante up $4, or fold. If they have excellent hole cards, they can choose to raise the pot an additional $4, which means everyone else now has to decide whether to kick in an extra $4, or fold.

At this point, the dealer will collect “the rake” – usually about 3-6 dollars which goes into a lockbox for the house. This is how the casino makes money to pay for the dealers, free drinks, space in the casino, etc.

When all bets have been equalized, the dealer lays 3 cards face-up on the table. These are the first 3 community cards, and they're called “the flop.”

Another round of betting commences, again starting with the small blind. Players can choose to check (if there are no other bets) by tapping the table and saying “Check” – however, if someone else decides to bet, they are forced to match that money or fold.

Again, all bets being equal, the dealer will lay another card down. This is called the “turn” card. Betting proceeds as before, and the dealer shows the final community card: the “river.”

This starts the last round of betting, after which, any players still in the game will show their hole cards in the “showdown” and the dealer will identify who has the highest poker hand, and give the pot to them.

If you win a big pot, it's good form to tip the dealer with a few chips.

The game may end before the showdown if all players except one fold; this player wins the pot (and isn't required to show their hole cards) but in any case, once the pot has been awards, that hand is done.

Now the dealer button is moved, new blinds are put out, and the next hand begins.

One very popular version of Omaha that is commonly seen is “High-Low,” in which players can choose to play either high cards or low cards. The highest hand and the lowest hand at the end of the game split the pot, although sometimes one person will win the whole thing if everyone else folds, or may win at the showdown if they have both the highest and the lowest hands. This is possible because you can select different combinations of your hole and community cards to make your high and low hands.

So, now you know the basics of Omaha poker. Time to rustle up a bankroll, put on your poker face, and make a fortune. Good luck, partner!



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