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Learning To Play Omaha
Omaha is similar to Texas Holdem, with several major deviations. Like Holdem, Omaha is a "flop" game. This basically means that Omaha uses a community card dynamic, starting with a flop of three community cards.
Omaha can be called "Omaha Holdem", but is typically just referred to as Omaha. This can be confusing, because there are two variants of the game with the same name. The difference in the two games is that one requires a player to build the highest hand possible, and this game is referred to as "Omaha High Only".
The second, and more popular game, pays out on the best hand and the worst hand, and is called "Omaha High-Low". I discuss this game on another page.
For the time being, let us discuss the "high only" version of Omaha.
Omaha is played quite similarly to Texas Holdem. The two games have in common the same betting phases: blinds, pre-flop, flop, turn and river.
Like Holdem, Omaha has five community cards. These come in the form of the flop, the turn and river. But there are two major differences between Holdem and Omaha.
Where Omaha is Different
In Omaha, a player is dealt four face down private cards. These are not revealed to other players, and can be used by that player only. These cards are combined with the five community cards to make the best possible five card hand. Unlike Texas Holdem, though, there are rigid rules which determine which cards can be used to make a hand.
You must use two, and only two, of the private cards to make your hand. You must use three, and only three, community cards to make your hand.
Differences in Strategy
Because players are dealt four cards instead of just two, hand values tend to be higher in Omaha than in Texas Holdem. This means that, if you choose to bet all the way to the river, you typically should have a good hand. Bluffing is therefore somewhat less prominent in Omaha than in Holdem.
That being said, holding four cards instead of two creates a different dynamic. Players hold out greater hopes of making good hands, because of the wider range of possibilities. This means that players often stay in hands to the river.
Playing marginal or speculative hands in Omaha is the greatest pitfall for new players, so that playing Omaha teaches players greater discipline than playing Texas Holdem.
Straights and Flushes
For example, most any straight or flush is a solid bet in Texas Hold 'Em. This is not necessarily so in Omaha, because of the greater range of possibilities. Players new to Omaha often find themselves losing with hands that would dominate in Holdem. It is quite common to lose with straights or flushes.
France and PLO
Pot Limit Omaha is the most popular version of the game in France, and Europe in general. Europeans, unlike American players, tend to prefer the Omaha-High version of the game to the high-lo version. This game is generally called PLO.
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