Making The Move To Omaha From Hold’em

George | September 22, 2008

If you’ve been playing Texas Hold’em for some time and you’re now looking for a new challenge, you may want to try Omaha. This variant of Hold’em is very similar in terms of betting rounds and also has a flop, turn, and a river. The biggest difference is that instead of two hole cards, you’re dealt FOUR cards and you MUST play two of them at the showdown. For this article, let’s focus on the differences between the two and how to best adjust your game as you try Omaha.

The single biggest mistake beginner Omaha players make is that they are unable to shift gears from the Hold’em mindset. A classic example is thinking you can play a single hole card to make a five-card hand. This isn’t the case and you can find yourself losing a large pot if you ever make this mistake. In Omaha, you must play TWO of your hole cards to make a winning hand. Here’s an example of a typical Omaha hand:

  • You’re dealt Ace of DiamondsQueen of Hearts5 of Spades9 of Hearts
  • The board reads Ace of Clubs6 of Hearts3 of HeartsJack of Hearts5 of Hearts

Do you have a Queen high flush or two pair (the weaker hand)? You’re holding two pair and will likely lose to another player who may have two hearts in their hole cards. Again, this is an easy mistake to make when you’ve played Hold’em for many years but one that must be avoided at all costs.

Types of Omaha games

In addition to the game described above, which is commonly called Omaha High there’s also Omaha Hi/Lo (aka Omaha Split). In this game the betting rounds are the same but a player can win the pot with the high hand or the low hand and in most cases the pot is split. Strategy for this game is more complex than Hold’em due to the increased number of possible hands when players have four hole cards. While we can’t detail the strategy in depth on this article, make sure to read our follow up Omaha Hi/Lo strategy entry.

Unlike Hold’em where the most popular version is No-Limit, you will mostly see Pot-Limit or Limit versions of Omaha being played. While some sites like Full Tilt Poker now offer NL Omaha games, it’s best for the beginner to start with Limit. Omaha can be a bankroll-busting experience in a hurry if you’re not prepared for this exciting game! The pace of the limit version of the game also allows a new player time to think about his or her options without risking a large bet each time.

So if you’re looking for a new challenge after playing Hold’em you should seriously consider Omaha. It’s a fun and very exciting game with enough action to satisfy even the craziest poker junkie. Beware however, that the game takes time to learn and you must avoid so many of the traps that newer/weaker players coming from a Hold’em background make when transitioning to Omaha.