Texas Hold'em is still by far the most popular poker variation but Omaha - specifically Pot-Limit Omaha - is closing the ground between them.
Will it ever catch up and become the preferred game for most poker players - either online or live? Well, no. Odds are low.
While heavy poker players might get bored with Hold'em after a while (read: 400,000 hands) and make the switch to Omaha, Hold'em is still the perfect game for most recreational and amateur players.
The rules are simple, the rush of a massive all in will always make for great and memorable moments (win or lose) and the game offers enough complexity to unfold in different layers over years of play.
Omaha Poker ... it's a great action game. At least Pot-Limit Omaha is. And you'll get a lot of big hands, which is fun. Omaha also offers a ton of complex strategy to chew on for years.
But it just doesn't have quite the "je ne sais quoi" of Hold'em. And it's not quite as accessible for the average player. It may "only" be 2 extra cards but it's enough to keep it running slightly behind Hold'em as the game of choice for the poker world writ large.
That being said ... you should learn to play it! The Omaha strategy you learn will pay off ten-fold in your Hold'em game. It's also an essential component of being a great mixed-game player. And, when it comes right down to it, Omaha poker really is fun.
As an added bonus Omaha poker rules are very similar to Texas Hold'em so it won't take long to make the leap. Below we'll break down the basic rules and game play of:
Good news! The rules of Omaha Poker are virtually identical to the rules of Texas Hold'em poker. It's a community card game, there are blinds and four rounds of betting, the highest 5-card poker wins.
There are two basic differences between Hold'em and Omaha:
And that's pretty much it (outside of the Hi-Lo variation of Omaha - more on that below). The hardest thing to get used to probably is needing to use exactly 2 of your hole cards to make your best hand. That means you can't:
Otherwise game play goes along identically to Texas Hold'em so if you've played it before you'll be fine switching over to Omaha. If you need a quick refresher on the basic rules of Omaha play, here's it is:
The final point is a very important distinction for Omaha poker. Each player's best 5-card hand must have:
That's it. No variations are possible - ie one hole card plus 4 board cards, all board cards. If you need a refresher for the poker hand rankings, here it is:
Another important note about Omaha Poker Rules:
Omaha is typically only played in either Limit or Pot-Limit format. It is RARELY played as No-Limit. The action is already pretty hectic as it is so No-Limit is not a preferred format for playing. Omaha poker.
Perhaps the most popular form of Omaha poker is Pot-Limit Omaha, which is played by all the best high-stakes pros and is a super fast, super fun action game played at all stakes.
The trickiest part of learning to play Pot-Limit Omaha is figuring out how to calculate what your pot-size bets and raises can be on each street. As luck would have it, we've put together a guide to calculating pot bets right here to help you along:
If you'd like to learn more about betting formats, betting rules & betting order, check our Betting Rules article here:
More good news for people who hate learning new rules: the only way Omaha High and Omaha Hi-Lo differ is when it comes to the showdown.
In standard Omaha High (and Pot-Limit Omaha), the high hand wins the whole pot - just like Texas Hold'em. Again, there are the hand rankings up above if you need a refresher.
In Omaha Hi-Lo, the pot is split between the best high hand and the best low hand. As you might guess from the name above, there's also a catch:
The low hand has to be "8 or Better" to qualifying for that half of the pot. In other words a qualifying low hand must have:
The "better" part might be a bit confusing there as they all have to be lower than 8 rather than higher than 8, but in terms of a lowball game that means that are technically "better."
Some more important points of note for ranking Omaha 8-or-Better low hands:
The lowest possible hand in Omaha 8-or-better is: 5-4-3-2-A, which is called a "Five Low." It also counts as a straight or "wheel" for the high hand.
The best way to get a handle on Omaha poker rules is really simply to play some hands and see how it goes. If you're coming over from Texas Hold'em the rules don't change that much and the betting rounds are still all the same.
It takes some getting used to to think of using exactly 2 hole cards to make up your final hand (and getting into the logistics of Hi-Lo is another step altogether) but Omaha is a very fun game filled with action that will keep you very entertained while you learn the ropes.
If you're want to learn quickly you can get A LOT of Omaha hands in online by playing the free games offered at major poker sites including 888poker, PokerStars and William Hill Poker, to name a few.
As an added bonus, if you're worried about being able to calculate pot bets on the fly for Pot-Limit Omaha, the online software calculates it for you!
You will still need to sign up and create a registered account at the poker site itself but you do not have to make a deposit to play the free Omaha poker games. Simply click on the "free play" or "instant play" under the Omaha games tabs.
Read our reviews and get exclusive poker bonuses here:
After you've got up to speed with the rules of Omaha and the pace of the game, it's very easy to make a small deposit and jump into the microstakes cash games or tournaments.
Omaha has a very steady player base at all levels so you'll have no problem finding a game that suits your skill and bankroll. Good luck and enjoy the great game of Omaha poker!