A poker variant derived from Texas Hold'em
, Omaha Poker has become the second most popular poker form among patrons of the top-rated online poker sites
. In addition to general poker strategies
that apply to most poker forms, Omaha Poker strategy is rooted in the prudent selection of starting hands to build upon. The most important factor to bear in mind when playing Omaha Poker
is that only two of the four starting cards may be combined with exactly three of the community cards to formulate the best possible poker hand
Given the nature of Omaha Poker (also called Omaha Hi), a starting hand that offers a great deal of flexibility is always best. Cards with a high face value, particularly paired or connected, will have increased odds of developing into a strong hand as the flop, turn and river are dealt. The more outs that can be connected to any two hole cards, the better.
The best starting hand for Omaha Hi is A-A-K-K, providing the player with the possibility of hitting one of the two highest three-of-a-kind hands, a full house (if a pair and an Ace or King hit the board), or an ace high straight. If an Ace and King in the pocket are suited, the player may even land the nut flush. A-A-K-K is a flexible, high starting hand with great potential for winning the pot.
Indeed, any Omaha Hi starting hand with paired Aces possesses better odds than most. Four consecutively ranked cards (connecting cards) also give players a large number of outs for a straight. However, any cards ranked below a 9 are a handicap. A reliable Omaha Poker strategy to employ is the immediate folding of hands that do not contain any cards higher than 9. Low pairs, straights, and even flushes may look like strong hands, however, this is not the case with Omaha Poker. There are far too many opportunities for opponents to form stronger hands.
A common mistake among Omaha Poker players is calling the bet pre-flop without a strong enough starting hand. This blunder, when made repeatedly, merely siphons chips out of the player's stack. Of course, it is always good form to check on the big blind - when this is an option. However, folding unreliable hands for free will save a methodical player chips to wager on those formidable, high ranking, connecting cards and pairs.
As with most poker variants, position plays a key role in Omaha Poker strategy. Being the first to act in a betting round puts a player at a disadvantage, with no knowledge of their opponents' intentions. Players in late position are afforded the opportunity to observe the actions of everyone else. However, stealing the blinds in Omaha Poker is much more difficult than Texas Hold'em because - as previously mentioned - many Omaha players will call just to see the flop.
A thorough evaluation of the flop will reveal the possible hands that can be formed from it. Determining, particularly, the drawing hands which out-rank the best that one's own hand will allow can prove useful as the betting round ensues. Players wagering aggressively may have hit a stronger hand on the flop.
Omaha Poker is a game in which many of the players at the table will form some level of hand ranking. In a full-table Omaha Poker game, these chances are greatest. Bluffing at Omaha Poker, even in last position, is a long shot at best. Semi-bluffs, in which the player does have at least a drawing hand to fall back on if the bluff fails, are recommended, but should be implemented sparingly.
Omaha Hi can be played as a fixed limit, pot limit or no limit game. Pot Limit Omaha allows players to raise the bet as high as the current pot size, which can rapidly get expensive. No Limit Omaha, of course, allows players to bet as much as they like, limited only by the number of chips they have remaining.
Those who are new to Omaha Poker are advised to begin with a small stakes, Limit Omaha Poker game, where the betting restrictions will prevent a novice Omaha player from blowing their entire chip stack in a couple of hands. Gradually, a player can work their way up to higher stakes and tougher competition as their experience and bankroll allows.
Easily as popular as Omaha Hi, Omaha Hi/Lo Split Eight or Better requires an adjustment to one's Omaha Poker strategy. Because the Omaha Hi/Lo pots are divided between the highest and lowest (8-high or better) hands, each player's goal is to develop both hands in order to win the entire pot. However, because a low hand cannot contain any card higher than an eight, it is plausible for a board of higher cards to prevent the formation of a low hand.
Generally, for Omaha Hi/Lo Poker strategy, it is best to start with two of the highest cards, and two of the lowest. This will increase a player's odds of scooping both halves of the pot. A-A-2-3 is the most ideal Omaha Hi/Lo starting hand. Aces count as high or low cards as needed, and are therefore of great value in Hi/Lo variants. The "wheel" (5-4-3-2-A) is the best possible low hand, as straights and flushes are not recognized for the low hand in this variant.
Players may also wish to play a strong high starting hand in Omaha Hi/Lo, as there is always the possibility that the board will block any attempts to form a low hand. If the board shows less than three cards valued at 8 or lower, no hand can qualify for the low pot, awarding the winnings to the high hand instead. Though, of course, without enough low cards to connect to a low-qualifying board, the high winner will take only half the pot if an opponent makes their low hand.