Omaha High (also called Omaha Hi) is an increasingly popular poker game. While it doesn’t have the same prestige as Texas Holdem, it is growing fast. The two types of Omaha High are:
Limit Omaha High – There’s a betting limit for each round of betting
Pot Limit Omaha High – A player may bet an amount equal to what’s in the pot
Omaha High Basic Rules
In Omaha High, players are dealt four face-down cards, and then five cards are placed face-up in the middle of the table. These are called community cards. Your hand is determined by forming the best possible five-card hand out of those 9 available cards. However, Omaha differs from Holdem in that you must use two, and exactly two, of your four hole cards. So hands can only be made out of 2 of your hole cards, and then 3 of the board cards. The best hand formed wins the pot.
During a game of Omaha, there are four rounds of betting. In Limit Omaha High, a maximum of one bet and three raises are allowed for each round of betting. When the betting gets to you, you need to react by folding, calling, or raising. Calling is when you bet an equal amount of money to what another player has bet; Raising is betting money on top of a separate bet; Folding is throwing your cards away and forfeiting. However, if you’re “all in”, you are exempt from this rule – more on this later. Betting is always done in clockwise rotation.
Omaha High Game Procedure
1) One player becomes the dealer, which is indicated by a red “button”. How this person becomes the dealer is relatively unimportant. Draw straws, play rock-paper-scissors, or just have someone volunteer. After each hand is played out and won, the dealer button rotates to the left of the current dealer, clockwise. Obviously, as dealer you’re responsible for dealing cards to players and setting the community cards face-up in the center of the table.
2) Before the cards are dealt, the two players to the left of the dealer place two blinds (called the Small Blind and the Big Blind) into the pot. The one closest to the dealer posts the Small Blind, and the one to the left of that person is responsible for the Big Blind. The Small Blind is, generally, half of the minimum bet. For example, in a $2/$4 game, the Small Blind is $1. However, if it’s something like a $5/$10 game, the Small Blind gets rounded down to the nearest dollar. So instead of being $2.50, it’s just $2. The Small Blind can vary depending where you’re playing, though. The Big Blind is the minimum bet, which gets the round of betting started.
3) Everyone is dealt two down cards, called “Hole Cards”. The game begins with the player to the left of the Big Blind either calling, raising, or folding to the Big Blind. In a Limit Omaha game, you can only bet the lowest end stakes for the first two rounds. So in a $10/$20 game, you can only bet $10. If you raised, you’d be betting $20; one bet to call the Big Blind, and one bet to raise the stakes. Until all remaining players have placed an equal amount of money into the pot (or the maximum amount of bets has been met), the betting continues. Of course, if all players except one fold, the remaining player wins the pot.
4) After the first round of betting is complete comes the “Flop”. The Flop is the first three community cards. Again, remember that the dealer button is passed to the next player. After the Flop comes another round of betting. The same rules from the first round apply here too. Also, the second round is limited to the lower stake, too. And as usual, the person to the left of the dealer is the first one to be able to bet.
5) Once the Flop is down and the betting is completed comes the “Turn”. The Turn is the fourth community card on the board. Same procedure as the other betting rounds, except you can now bet the maximum stake. For example, in a $15/$30 game, after the Turn, you are now required to bet at least $30. Everything else stays pretty much the same; dealer button moves over, betting goes around, and people decide to call, raise, or fold.
6) After the Turn comes the last community card, called the “River”. As you may have guessed, this is the final round of betting before a winner is decided. You continue to use the maximum stake for betting. After all betting is finished, the remaining players reveal their Hole Cards and generally tell the others what their hand is. The person with the highest ranked hand wins (see Hand Rankings at Basic Rules). The winning player then collects all money that’s in the pot.
Besides the fold and raise options, a player may also “check”, which forfeits their turn without folding or raising. This is used when there is no current bet on the table. If there is a bet, the player HAS to either call or raise it, or else he/she must the current hand. Example: If everybody simply calls the bet set by the Big Blind, then when the betting gets to the person who first posted the Big Blind, that player has the option to check, thus ending the round of betting with nobody wagering any additional money.
Most of the time, online poker tables don’t want you getting more funds whilst you’re in a game. Basically, if you’re currently playing a hand, you can’t go to the cashier and get additional funds to play with in that hand. However, they do give you some reconciliation that I alluded to earlier which is called going “All-in”. Essentially, the All-in rule is meant to make it so that a player cannot be forced to forfeit their hand because they are unable to call a bet due to lack of chips. When someone is All-in, the pot currently at the center of the table ceases to be active. What is instead created is a “side pot”, in which the other players may continue betting.
Naturally, the player who is All-in cannot participate in this side-pot, as that player has no chips left, having put them all into the main pot. Only the players who contribute to the side-pot have a right to win it. When all the betting has finished, all players reveal their cards. The player with the highest hand, including the player who is All-in, wins the main pot. However, the side-pot is what must be determined next, and that is done by determining who, out of the players who did not go All-in, has the best ranked hand. You would just add additional side-pots for any extra players who go All-in.
Due to the fact that there are multiple people playing at one table, most online poker rooms put limits on the amount of time you can take to make a decision when the betting gets to you. Generally speaking, most poker rooms allow 30 seconds total: 10 seconds, followed by a 20-second countdown that appears on the screen. If the user does not, or cannot, respond by the time the countdown is over, one of two things happens:
1) If the player has contributed any money to the pot, he/she is counted as being All-in
2) If the player hasn’t placed a bet yet, then the player’s hand is simply folded and the game goes on.
So, if you have money in the pot, it uses the rules for going All-in. That means that no more bets can be placed in the main pot, and a side-pot will now become the betting pot for the rest of the players. So you still have a chance to win the main pot even if you don’t respond or are disconnected. If no money’s been placed into the pot, you lose nothing. It’s a very good system.
If there is ever a tie that can’t be decided even by using the highest card of any hands, then the pot is split evenly between the tying players. Should there be an odd chip, such as trying to split $5.25 between 2 people, the first player to the left of the button (dealer) receives it.
I’m Jason Rockwell. When I’m not winning playing online poker, I enjoy writing about my love of the game. Thanks for visiting!