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Also known as ‘Omaha High Poker’, this is one of the world’s most popular poker games and a common ‘next step’ for players after mastering Texas Hold’em. About the game:
There are 2 forms of Omaha high games:
Generally, Omaha High is played with a single deck of 52 cards, excluding jokers. In Omaha High games a “dealer button” is commonly used for each hand to denote the theoretical dealer. Once a hand is finished, the “dealer button” rotates clockwise to the next active player, who then becomes the dealer for the duration of the next hand, similar to standard poker rules.
To start the game, the player who first joined the table acts as the dealer for the first hand. The person to the left of this dealer posts the “small blind”: Usually, but not strictly, this is equal to half of the lower stake of the table. For example, at a $5/$10 Omaha High table, the small blind should in theory be $2.50. In practice however, the small blind is often rounded down to the nearest dollar, so in this case, $2. This is usually the case in online poker rooms but be aware that this may vary from table to table, so make sure you know what the situation is before you start playing.
The next step is that the player to the left of the player who posted the small blind must post the “big blind”. The big blind is the lower stake limit of the table.
N.b. If a new player joins a game which has already started, it is possible for the new player to also post a big blind in the same hand, or he/she can wait until the start of the next hand, or another option is to wait for his/her turn (when he/she is 2 places to the left of the dealer, according to the dealer button) to post a big blind.
Remember, all of the blinds in this type of poker game are seen as live bets, which means that players who post the blinds lay check, call, raise or fold on their turn. Once the small and big blinds have been placed, each active player receives down/hole cards from the dealer. In Omaha High each player receives 4 cards (different to Texas Hold’em). The first round of betting can now begin; the player to the left of the player who just posted the big blind begins the betting. In this first round, betting values are fixed at the lower limit of the table. So in a $5/$10 Omaha High game, each single bet must be $5 in the first round. But note that a raise would be $10 here, because that includes one additional bet and a call on an earlier bet. All players have the option to place bets in the 1st round.
Each player has 3 options for placing bets, you can Bet, Call or Raise. The alternative to these is to Fold. These options depend however on what the previous player has just done.
The first player to bet, call or raise is the person sitting to the left of the person who posted the big blind. The other players only have the choice to call or raise. Remember, calling means placing the same bet as the player before you. Raising means increasing the bet or call amount of the player before, and is based on the value of the previous bet.
Each player places their 1st round bets, and remember that values are fixed at the lower limit for the table (eg. $10 in a $10/$20 Omaha High game), but this can be raised (in this case, to $20).
Each player in the hand should place the same amount in the pot as all the other players. The betting – including calls and raises as well as bets – stops once this happens. However, there are rules regarding the number and amount of bets a player may place during one round – please see our Rules page for a detailed explanation.
So, once each player has contributed equally to the pot, the first round of betting is over and the 3 community cards (also called “the flop”) are dealt. All players in the hand can play the community cards.
Following the 1st round and the flop, and in each round of betting thereafter, the player to the left of the dealer button is the first to bet. In round 2, bets and raises are limited to the lower limit of the stake structure. So, in the example of the $10/$20 game, each bet remains limited to $10 for the second round, and raises stay $20.
Once all the 2nd round bets have been placed, a 4th community card is dealt, which is called “the turn”.
As we saw in previous rounds, round 3 also begins with the player to the left of the dealer button. However this time, bets and raises change to the upper limit at the table, so $20 bets and $40 raises in our example of a $10/$20 table. The 5th and last community card is dealt after the 3rd round of betting is completed. This last community card is known as “the river”.
This is the final round and proceeds similarly to round 3. The betting remains limited to the upper table limit. So our $10/$20 table example from round 3 still applies: single bets are $20 and raises are $40.
Each player is allowed a maximum of 4 bets, comprising 1 bet and 3 raises, during each betting round.
The last raise of a round is called a “cap”, because no further raises can be made, betting is said to be capped. Once this happened, players can only choose to call or to fold. A player can fold at any stage during the game. Once a player has chosen to fold, this person is no longer part of the game and therefore no longer has any rights over pots on the table.
An alternative option is checking, meaning that the player skips his/her turn without betting. However, depending on the action of the preceding player in the hand, this option may be unavailable. The player must equal the amount of the bets that other players in the hand have placed in each round.
Only the chips in play at the start of each hand can be used throughout the hand – this rule is referred to as playing by “table stakes”, which is usual for poker. Obtaining extra funds from the cashier during a game is therefore not allowed.
One practical application of the table stakes rule is the “all in” rule, which states that a player cannot be forced to forego a hand because of insufficient chips to call a bet.
The “All in” rule works as follows: A player lacking enough chips to call a bet is said to be “all in”, which means he/she is eligible for a share of the pot proportional up to the time of his/her last wager. The other players now place in a “side pot”, which the “all in” player cannot join.
The main pot contains bets from all players and remains in the centre of the table – the all in player still has rights over this main pot. However, only the other players have rights over the side pot which holds new bets. The next winning combination takes the side pot. “The Showdown”
The Showdown is the best part of Omaha High, as it decides which player wins the pot, and only takes place after the last round of betting. The winner is decided by showing the cards of all the remaining players – but players are not obliged to show their cards, it’s optional. 2 hole cards and 3 community cards determine the winning hand – so 5 cards in all.
To see the ranking of cards which determines the winning combination, please click here! Should 2 or more players end up with hands with the same ranking, the winner is decided by the higher cards. As an example, a player holding a flush with an ace high, would win over a player holding a flush with a king high. In the event that the hands are still tied, then the “kicker” – that is the highest card not held in common – is the decider.
The winning hand is not decided by the ranking of the suits of the cards. If two or more hands are equally ranked, poker rules dictate that the pot must be equally divided between the winning players. If there are an odd number of chips in the pot, it is given to the winning player closest to the left of the dealer/button.
There are a few differences between limit and no limit / pot limit Omaha High, but the rules remain the same, as explained above.
In limit Omaha Highr a maximum of four bets is allowed per player during any betting round: including, 1. bet, 2. raise, 3. re-raise, and 4. cap.
In no limit and pot-limit Omaha High the number of raises per player is unlimited, except that a player cannot raise his/her own bet. The bet must first be raised by another player, before you can re-raise. Even if all the other players in the hand fold or only call, a player cannot raise his/her own previous bet.