Basic Omaha Rules and Blind Structure
The basic game play of Omaha is practically identical to that of Hold’em. The exception is that you are dealt four hole cards and must use only two combined with three community cards to make your best five-card hand. This contrasts with Hold’em because a player uses only one of his hole cards and four community cards to make a hand. In rare cases, a player can use all five community cards to make a five-card hand. Furthermore, you must have two of a suit in your hand in order to put together a flush. Similarly, when 3-of-a-kind are on the table (i.e. 5-5-5-X-X), you must have a pair in your hand to make a full house.
Like Hold’em, Omaha uses the same revolving dealer system. The dealer is specified by a white disc called the dealer button, which moves to the next player clockwise after every deal.
Pot-limit Omaha is usually played with either two or three players posting blind money prior to any dealt cards. For instance, in a $2/$5 game, the player to the left of the dealer button posts the $2 small blind, and the player to the left of him posts a $5 big blind. In a three-blind $5/$10/$25 game, the player to the left of the button posts a $5 small blind. Next, the player to his left posts a $10 middle blind. Then finally, the player to his left posts a $25 big blind. Certain games are played with two blinds and a separate-sized bring-in. For example, in a $1/$2 game with a $5 bring-in, there is a $1 and a $2 blind, but a player must call $5 to go into the pot.
Now every player is dealt four hole cards before the flop. This means the player to the left of the big blind acts initially, and must either fold, call the size of the big blind, bring-in, or raise. This similar action goes on around the table to the left (clockwise) until you reach the big blind, who acts last before the flop.
More Omaha Rules
The dealer then delivers three community cards face up on the table, then a round of betting follows. Next, the dealer gives a fourth community card (turn card) face up on the table. Then, all players do another cycle of wagering. Finally, the dealer hands out the fifth and final community card (river card) face up on the table. The last betting round begins! Don’t forget, the first player to the left of the button (still in the game) acts first on every betting round. Similarly, the player possessing the dealer button plays last. This occurs even on the flop and on each consecutive betting round.
If there are two or more players left after the wagering is complete on the river, then it’s a showdown. At this point, the player with the very best five-card poker hand (making use of two cards from his hand and three off the table) is victorious!
Thinking Ahead of Your Opponents
The capability to think ahead is a vital skill, whether you are solving problems, playing checkers, or playing poker. The player that can think ahead the most will have a significant competitive advantage. This is primarily true in pot-limit Omaha. The most impactful decision of the game is not done at the river, but made on the flop. This means that while the most significant move might be on the flop, many players ignore how much of the game is won before the flop.
Playing Omaha at The First Level
Picture playing a game of chess two moves at a time. The equivalent of calling “checkmate” is “Do you see the flush?” when playing Omaha. Of course the obvious difference is that chess players can’t bluff.
Playing Omaha at The Second Level
As the players become older, they become smarter and then the game shifts. At the second level, the normal player is now setting up their attack three moves in advance. The game becomes “Does my opponent see what I am positioning myself to attack with?” Another question might be “Do you see the trap?”
There could be many parallels in Omaha. One is “Do you see what I am drawing at?” For example, the flop comes 3-9-2 and you have a set of tens. The first player bets $25 and you raise to $100, but the player behind you calls the raise. Then the turn reveals an 8. So the player behind you made the straight. If your money is deep, it would be a wrong choice to do anything but check. You should also pray the player gives you a good price to draw at the full house. This is because any betting would be tossing money away when your challenger makes a pot-size raise, and then you have to fold.
Playing Omaha at The Third Level
At this level, players are setting up traps four to five steps in advance. In other words, a mere possibility of attack is a weapon. At this point, a player suitable of competing at this level would defend against the threat of attack by folding the sucker wrap. Any other player that does not recognize these threats is bound for a broke bankroll.
Playing Omaha at The Fourth Level
Omaha at it’s most complex level. Forget casual, or even serious players; real strategy and planning are at play here. Your dominance of precious real estate (center of the table) is now critical. Not only is the pure threat of attack a weapon, but also the skill to produce multiple threats takes priority. At this level of playing, it is much more overwhelming to defend against several threats of attack. Now that you know the four levels, this next sentence will have more significance to you. Only your opening moves can set you up for dishing out multiple threats to opponents.
The Fundamental Question in Omaha
First of all, when playing Texas Hold’em, the underlying question when dealing with action on the flop is “Do I have the best hand?” However, with Omaha, the query is more often “Can I take this hand to the river?”
Let’s circle back to what you know now. It’s your decision before the flop that sets up the play for the rest of the hand.
For starters, your location at the table (the real estate) is an important factor, but not critical. This is especially relevant if you choose to play a hand from under the gun (UTG). Consequently, you are surrendering a positional benefit to the rest of the field for the duration of the hand. As you now know, it is much easier to play a hand when you act last on every round rather than acting before your opponents.
Furthermore, it is a complete misconception that Omaha starting hands all run close in value. Hence, the truth is that an Omaha starting hand differs greatly in three ways. The first is how they play after the flop. The second is when the stacks are deep. Lastly, and when the pots are fought for by more than one player.
Practically any hand can flop the nuts, but only specific kinds of hands will get your money when all the money is in and all the cards are out.