Omaha (High)

The best way to learn how to play Omaha is to watch a hand in action, typically there are big hands and big action

Why Omaha? Action! With big hands and bigger pots

The beauty of Omaha is that it’s so similar to Hold’em you’ll be able to explain the basics to your mates in a couple of minutes, but ultimately so different you’ll clean them out in a similar amount of time.

Instead of two hole cards, you get four, and you must use two (and only two) of these, finishing the hand with three from the board. Get dealt four Aces in Omaha and you’re almost drawing dead (with a pair and no way of improving). Also, if a board has four hearts and you have the A ? you don’t have a flush. The very worst starting hand is four Twos, leaving you with a pair of ducks and no possibility of a straight or flush.

The same betting rules apply as in Hold’em, with a three-card flop, turn, and river. But with four hole cards and consequently three different permutations, high-ranking hands are very common, which makes it harder to bluff with more reliance on maths than balls-out gambling. That’s not to say bluffing goes out the window – you can still bluff someone off the top hand if you make them believe you’ve got the nuts – but it takes impeccable timing and a very good read of the game.

To make things a bit trickier there’s no set starting hand that’s universally considered the best. In practice you should only play hands that give you good value from different permutations. Ideally you want to see double-suited connectors, so A ? K ? and J ? Q ? are excellent. On the flipside, get dealt four of the same suit and your chance of making your flush is that much lower.

For reasons that become quickly apparent, Omaha High is almost universally played as a pot-limit game. No-limit Omaha just wouldn’t work as the best hand changes all the time and you’d never get any action.

And even if it looks too complicated, you should give it a go. If nothing else, it’s worth playing for the comedy value of trying to work out who’s actually won the pot at the end. We’ve seen WSOP tables full of top pros scratching their heads trying to figure out who’s actually holding the winning hand.

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