Although Texas Hold’em is considered the primary game of choice of players around the world, Omaha is catching on in both live games and on Internet poker sites.
Several of the top online poker rooms report that Omaha cash games have caught up with Texas Hold’em games, and in poker rooms throughout Nevada and other states, Omaha is being offered with increasing regularity.
The main difference between Texas and Omaha is the player receives four hole cards instead of two cards in Texas Hold’em’.
The extra cards make for more fertile starting hands and stronger winning hands. Consequently, pots in cash games tend to become larger as players stay around longer after the flop.
Here’s how it’s played: As noted, the player receives four hole cards instead of two, but he can use only two cards from his hand to match up with the cards on the board. In addition, he must use three cards from the board; thus, he can’t make a flush using four cards from the board with his pocket ace.
Betting is similar to Texas Hold’em with a small and big blind and betting after each round. The flop features three cards, with a single card on the turn and river.
Like Texas Hold’em, the player makes his best five-card hand, using two from his hand and three from the board.
With the extra cards, there are more chances to make substantial hands. For instance, while full houses are relatively rare in Texas Hold’em, they can be almost common in Omaha.
That’s because when the board pairs and a player matches the paired cards, he has two extra cards in his hand to mate with another board card for a full house.
But while there’s more action in Omaha, sometimes the two-card rule can be frustrating. Imagine your four hole cards include three or even four aces, but you can only use two of them in your final hand!
The possibility of making a big hand fuels the gambling instinct in many players. Because of the increased possibility of making a "drawing hand," players bet large sums based on a coin flip at the river.
Nonetheless, Omaha requires as much or more skill and patience as Texas Hold’em. Doing the math (pot odds, implied odds, etc.) might be more complicated, but talented players will win by making good folds, good reads and big bluffs. Weak players will chase draws they should be folding and call bets on the river when they hold a hopeless hand.
Which is pretty much the same recipe for success and failure in most poker games. Except with Omaha, the stakes are usually higher.