Omaha Variations & Rules
A lot of online poker sites now offer many variations of Omaha poker.
We will take a look at some of the most common including:
* Omaha Hi
* Omaha Hi/Lo a.k.a. Eight or Better a.k.a. Omaha 8/b
* Omaha Tournaments
There are two formats that all the above games can be played:
* Pot Limit Omaha
* Fixed Limit Omaha
Like in all forms of poker, the aim of Omaha Hi is to win the pot with the best 5 card poker hand. In Omaha Hi you are dealt four cards at the start of the hand and then you have to use two of them, along with three of the community cards to create a full five card hand.
Like many people, you are likely to be coming to Omaha from Texas Hold’em and in that case there is one key idea to remember: you must use EXACTLY two cards from the four hole cards you were dealt to make your Omaha hand. This has a big effect on the game as you can no longer use 4 community cards with one of your own to make a hand.
This is a game that is very often called Omaha eight or better, but this is just a different name for the exact same game. Hi-Lo is played in the exact same way as regular Omaha Hi, up until showdown. At showdown is where the key difference between the games is apparent. In Hi-Lo there can be two winning hands at showdown – the Hi hand and the Low hand. Each hand winning half the pot. It is also possible for the same player to win both halves if he possesses the best Hi and Lo hand.
Not every showdown will have a Lo hand. To have a qualifying lo hand you must be able to make a 5 card hand that is unpaired and all cards are below an 8. The worst lo hand is 8-7-6-5-4 and the best is “the wheel”, 5-4-3-2-A. As mentioned before not every hand has a qualifying low hand, for example when the board only contains hi cards. In this case the hi hand wins the whole pot.
Only pairs affect your lo hand, you do not need to worry about straights or flushes ruining your low hand. A key point to remember is that you can use two cards to make a hi hand and two different cards to make the lo, or the same cards if you wish. If you make a hand like the wheel, it can count as a hi and a lo simultaneously.
Like any poker tournament the players start with a fixed amount of chips and the game plays until one player has all the chips. The blinds will increase after set time intervals and the blinds will start out very small compared to the starting stack. The blinds get bigger and players start to get knocked out and eventually there will be only one player left.
Tournaments can be played using both of the above mentioned variations of Omaha, namely Omaha Hi and Omaha Hi-Lo as well as being fixed or pot limit betting structures. Pot limit is the most common structure for Omaha Hi and fixed limit taking the preference for Hi-Lo tournaments.
Pot Limit Omaha
The most common form that Omaha is played in is pot limit. Pot-limit Omaha or PLO is the term commonly used. Pot limit has many similarities to the no-limit betting structure made famous by hold’em. The main difference between the two being that the largest bet or raise you can make at any point in the hand is the size of the current pot.
It is still possible to get all in in a pot limit game but it may take a bet or two longer than it would in a no limit game. If a player bets and gets raised, it will then usually be possible to get most of his stack in with a re-raise at that point. So although there is a cap on the betting on each turn it isnt difficult to overcome.
Fixed Limit Omaha
Fixed limit is usually, but not always used when played hi-lo. Fixed limit is very different to no-limit and pot-limit as you have to bet in certain increments on every turn and cannot deviate from that. For example, in $5/$10 Omaha 8/b, the players can bet and raise in increments of $5 and $10. The first number used for pre flop and flop betting and the second figure used for the turn and river.
The fixed limit betting structure is generally used for Omaha Hi-Lo as the strength of hands can change by huge margins with every new community card that hits the table. A strong pre flop hand can be turn into an absolutely terrible hand when the flop is dealt. If no limit or pot limit structures where used it can very quickly turn the game into a massive gamble as people start pushing all in regularly.