One of the newer poker
forms to be introduced to casinos, Omaha Poker, has seen tremendous growth in popularity among both professional and amateur poker players. Omaha Poker holds the second highest traffic volume in most online poker
rooms, next to Texas Hold'em Poker. The communal card game bears a striking resemblance to Texas Hold'em, however, is uniquely different with a challenging twist on the classic hold'em style poker game
A community card game in the same vein as Texas Hold'em Poker, Omaha Poker (sometimes called Omaha High) differs from its sister form in that players each receive four - instead of two - private, hole cards after the blinds are posted. Action commences in the same manner as Texas Hold'em, with a betting round before the three-card flop is dealt, followed by a second betting cycle after the flop. Next, the turn hits the board, a third round of betting ensues, and finally the last community card is revealed. If two or more players abide after the fourth betting round, the game concludes with a showdown, which reveals the winning player with the best five-card hand.
The additional hole cards make Omaha Poker seems much easier than Texas Hold'em, at first glance. Quite to the contrary, however, Omaha Poker imposes restrictions dictating that each player must use precisely two of their four hole cards and three of the five community cards in order to form their best five-card hand. This extra constraint can prove quite challenging for new players to become acclimated to when discerning the strength of their own hand.
A prominent variation of Omaha Poker is Omaha Hi/Lo Eight or Better (also called Omaha 8), in which the pot is divided evenly between the highest hand and the lowest - which can often be held by the same player. This variant adds an extra dimension to each participants' hand, since players can use a different configuration of two hole cards and three community cards to form their high and low hands
. Usually played with a pot limit betting structure - and because players are less likely to fold what would normally be considered a poor hand - Omaha Hi/Lo Poker pots tend to experience overwhelming growth with each betting round.
History and Popularity of Omaha Poker
As with many poker forms, tracking the progression and development of Omaha Poker is somewhat challenging. According to Doyle Brunson's 1978 book, Super System: A Course in Power Poker, Omaha Poker was originally played exactly like Texas Hold'em Poker - with two hole cards - except that players were required to form their five-card hand using both of their pocket cards, and three of the board cards - evidently the basis for the "two hole cards, three community cards" rule.
Casino executive Robert Turner is credited with introducing what is now referred to as Omaha Poker to Bill Boyd around 1982, which Bill Boyd immediately offered as "Nugget Hold'em" at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas. It is not clear how the name "Omaha" eventually became associated with this poker form, as there is absolutely nothing to connect Omaha Poker to the city of Omaha, Nebraska, except the name itself.
Home versions of Omaha Poker involved up to five private cards, however, a nine to ten player casino poker table couldn't support the dealing of so many cards in one hand, causing four hole cards became the standard for casino poker rooms. This rule has carried over into the online Omaha Poker structure.
Pot Limit Omaha Poker (abbreviated PLO) has increasingly become one of the most popular poker variants among high stakes professional players in recent years, due primarily to the exponential growth of each pot with every betting round. While Texas Hold'em Poker continues to receive the bulk of television coverage, is featured in the majority of live tournament events and receives the most online poker traffic; if ever there was a poker form poised to usurp Texas Hold'em Poker's crown in the near future, Omaha Poker may very well be the heir apparent.