Omaha is a version of Poker which is relatively new to the poker gambling world, but increasing in popularity. The format of Omaha is similar to Texas Hold’em in that the players make up their hands from a combination of Hole Cards and Community Cards.
The objective of Omaha is to make the best 5-card hand from 4 cards dealt face-down, known as the ‘ Hole Cards ‘, and 5 Community cards dealt face-up in the middle of the table. An important aspect of gambling on Omaha poker is that players must use two of their Hole Cards in their final hand, together with 3 of the community cards.
The role of the dealer in Omaha is important for the order of betting, so that even if the casino provides a dealer, there must be a nominated dealer at the table, usually indicated by a disc or button which is passed clockwise around the table from player to player. The dealer will always shuffle the cards before each hand, and will then discard (Burn) the top card before dealing.
Each player is dealt 4 cards face-down, one at a time, but before play continues money is put into the Pot, either through an ‘ Ante ‘ when all the players must contribute an agreed amount, or by what is known as ‘ Blind Bets ‘. Blind bets are made by the two players immediately to the left of the dealer. The first player will make a ‘Small Blind ‘, which is usually half the minimum table stake, and the second player will make a ‘Big Blind ‘. This must be at least equal to the minimum table stake.
Each player then examines their Hole Cards, and gambling starts with the first betting round with either the player immediately to the left of the dealer if an Ante has been paid, or the player to the left of the Big Blind. Each player must match the previous bet (Call), increase the bet (Raise), or discard his cards (Fold). If an Ante has been paid, the first player in the betting round has the choice of what bet to make, providing it is above the minimum agreed table stake. In some games the first player in a betting round is allowed to ‘ Check ‘, which enables him to stay in the game without making a bet. All the following players in the round would also be allowed to Check, providing no bet has been made. If the game is being played with Blind Bets, no Checking is allowed in the first round of betting because a bet has already been made. The betting round is complete when all the players have either matched the highest bet, of Folded. If Blind bets are used, the two players making those bets must top up their blind bets so that all the active players have gambled equal amounts.
The dealer will then Burn the top card on the deck and deal 3 community cards face-up into the middle of the table. These 3 cards are known as the ‘Flop ‘. The second round of betting can now begin, starting with the first active player to the left of the dealer. Again all the active players must Call, Raise or Fold, and when all the bets are equal the second round of betting is complete.
Gambling continues with the dealer burning the top card again, and dealing another community card face-up into the middle of the table, known as the ‘ Turn ‘ or ‘ Fourth Street ‘. A third round of betting then continues until the stakes are again equal. The dealer will then Burn the top card again, before dealing a fifth community card into the middle of the table, known as the ‘River ‘or ‘Fifth Street ‘. The final round of betting can now take place, again until all the active players have gambled the same stake. The players will then reveal their hands in what is known as the ‘Showdown ‘. The winning hand is the best hand made up of two Hole Cards and three cards from the five community cards in the centre of the table, collectively known as the ‘ Board ‘.
Omaha gambling is unlike Texas Hold’em in that the availability of 4 Hole Cards to each player provides a very large number of potential winning hands, and makes effective gambling strategies far more difficult to define. Omaha is a version of online Poker gambling where experience of what could constitute a good hand after the Flop, is essential when deciding how to gamble on the Hole Cards.
It is generally recognised that an experienced Omaha player would look for pairs and suits in his Hole Cards. The best hand before the Flop would probably consist of a run of four consecutive cards, with maybe two each of two suits. This hand would provide the best chance of a Straight or a Flush after the Flop. There are however at least two facets of Omaha gambling which potential players should be aware of before they play. The first is that there cannot be two flushes of different suits, because any flush requires 3 community cards in the Board to be of the same suit, which of course is only possible in one suit.
Another mistake often made by players new to Omaha gambling, is to exaggerate the value of ‘ three of a kind ‘ in their Hole Cards. It is easy to forget that you can only use two of your Hole Cards in your final hand. It is much better to have a pair in your Hole Cards.
When gambling on Omaha it is absolutely essential to consider how your opponents could use the Board, and not just whether you can make a potential winning hand. Remember that the community cards in the Board are available to all the players.
If a player has a good set of Hole Cards, it would often pay to gamble more in the early betting rounds, to reduce the number of active players. The more cards there are in the board, the more likely it is that a better hand can be formed by your opponents, even if their Hole Cards were not as good.