Omaha Poker is a Challenging Game

Posted October 18, 2010 by Andrew in Articles

If you’re used to playing Texas Hold’em and have tried playing Omaha or Omaha High Low, you’ve found that you’ve had to adjust your thinking. Although Omaha is sometimes called Omaha Hold’em due to the fact that as in Texas Hold’em you are given hole cards and share five community cards, the games are really quite different.

What makes Omaha Poker a game that can be challenging for those stuck in the Texas Hold’em mode of thinking is the fact that instead of two hole cards, you are given four. However, of the four hole cards you are dealt, you may only use two, combing them with three of five community cards.

Thus, what might look like a great starting hand in Hold’em, such as a pair of kings, may or may not be in Omaha. Here are some of the challenges with being dealt four hole cards.

First, two of those cards are dead. So if you’ve got a pair of aces and a pair of kings in the hole, one of those pair or one of the aces and kings will simply have to be discarded. That can make for some very odd and unpredictable hands where in essence the best that you have is three of a kind or simply a pair.

Three of a kind may not sound bad, but that can easily be beaten by a straight or a flush, both of which are likely occurrences. This is due to the fact that someone holding a 2H, 3H, 8S, KS in the hole has a range of opportunities to score a straight, flush and even a full house.

That doesn’t mean you won’t hit on three of a kind or even a full house. But the idea that those two aces or kings in the hole are a strong start can be a very wrong headed notion, while in Texas Hold’em that idea is right on target. This is partly due to the variety that four hole cards afford each player. A weak hand in Omaha can suddenly turn potent with the flop.

The other challenge for players regarding four hole cards is that the number of cards that are held by players in Omaha is double that of those in Texas Hold’em. That means that with nine players at the table instead of 34 cards being available for the flop, turn and river, there are only 16. Plus, 18 of the hole cards dealt cannot be used; they are dead!

The trick to playing Omaha is to realize that you certainly have choices when it comes to having four cards in the hole but that there are also limitations. The choices are usually evident to players of Texas Hold’em, but the limitations often take some time to figure out. Watch out when playing Omaha, it’s extremely unpredictable. However, it is still a whole lot of fun!

About the Author


Andrew Keyes is a poker enthusiast, a writer, researcher, speaker, and consultant. You can visit to get poker articles along with winning poker tips, tested poker strategies, the latest poker news, free poker tools, cool poker resources, and more! Visit today and you can download some of the best poker bots for automating your poker play!