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Omaha Hi Basics

Omaha Hi Poker is similar to Texas Holdem but obviously not the same. The main difference is that each player is dealt four cards facing down as pocket cards (oppose to 2 in Texas Holdem), and each player must use two of their hole cards combined with three from the board (the community cards in the middle) to make their poker hand of 5 cards. Highest hand wins!

The game is played as follow:
The 2 players to the left of the dealer place the 2 blind bets, the big and small. Each player is dealt four cards face down called the pocket or hole cards.
The player left to the player who placed the big blind can call, raise or fold. If a player calls he places a bet equal to the amount of the big blind, if he raises he has to place a bet higher than the big blind, if he folds he does not wish to play anymore and gives in his cards. The betting continues clockwise around the table.
Three cards are placed in the centre of the table (the board) facing up, these are called the flop, and another round of betting takes place as before. Then a fourth card is drawn and placed with the other community cards. The fourth card is called the 4th street or turn card. Another round of betting is done. A fifth card is placed on the board. This fifth card is called the 5th street or river. At this point remaining players participate to the last round of betting and finally they show their cards. Players have to use 2 cards from their pocket cards and 3 cards from the community cards. The highest hand of poker wins.

One thing you should for sure focalize on playing Omaha is learning to select the right hand to enter a pot if you want to maximize your chances of winning.

Since each player is dealt four cards in Omaha, players often make the mistake to think that the game can be played in a loose way. But Omaha is actually a game to play tighter than hold'em. For example, it is much less correct to call weak in the blinds in Omaha than in Hold'em where the price that the pot offers is often enough to call.

As Annie Duke, one of the best Omaha Poker players in the world, argued in one of her articles, "the reason for Omaha playing so tight is ironically the same reason people think they can play so many hands: because each player is dealt four hole cards". In fact that greatly increases the likelihood that someone has a huge starting hand or flops the nuts once the board is down.

She also proposes the following example to explain her point: "if the board in hold'em is 678KQ and you have a set of kings you have a huge hand. The likelihood of someone having the straight against you is very, very small. If you have the same set of kings in Omaha your hand is actually quite weak. This is because there are three possible straights out against you (the 4-5, 5-9 and 9-T) and because everyone has four hole cards the likelihood of someone having one of these combinations is greatly increased."


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