Head For Omaha – Part 1

Many Texas hold’em players are trying their hands at Omaha, but their assumption that they can make the leap easily is often their undoing. So how do you avoid looking like a tenderfoot when you make the switch?

At first glance, taking up Omaha when you already understand Texas hold’em seems easy – just a case of moving from a five community- card game with two hole cards to a five-community-card game with four hole cards.

Yet just as first glances at members of the opposite sex and their apparent attractiveness has led most of us into trouble at one time or another, so too has the hold’em player’s first lustful glance at Omaha. They’re lulled into a false sense of security by their hard-won hold’em knowledge – all too often their understanding of hand values and what’s important in the game leads them to incorrect conclusions in Omaha.

Omaha is played in both high-only and highlow (with an 8-low qualifier) versions. For reasons that will make sense after you’ve been playing Omaha for a long time, no-limit Omaha has never really caught on. Pot-limit Omaha, the game with the unfortunate initials (PLO), is certainly the most popular form of high-stakes Omaha. Omaha 8-or-better is probably the most popular form of low-stakes Omaha.

The exponential pot-sized betting increases involved in PLO make it enormously different from limit Omaha. The difference is even more pronounced than one sees between limit hold’em and pot-limit hold’em, because so many more reasonable hands can be played for raises. Those differences, combined with PLO’s popularity, require us to examine both PLO and the limit variations when comparing Omaha to hold’em. Let’s now get into the key differences in the two games, starting with the most important:

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