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Texas Hold’em is easily the most popular poker game in the world, played at many poker tournaments, but there is another variant of poker that has a massive following. Omaha Poker is variant similar to Texas Hold’em that is enjoyed by players around the world.

Like Hold’em, it is a community card game with four rounds of betting. However, there are some major differences in the game that make it unique form Hold’em. Today we are going to look at the major differences between Omaha Poker and Texas Hold’em.

Four Hole Cards?

1440078836_Cards-SpadeThat’s right. Players get four hole cards at the start of each hand of Omaha Poker. This huge because of the number of starting hands increases dramatically.

In Texas Hold’em, there are 1,326 possible two-card combinations in a 52-card deck. If you consider that suits have zero relative value pre-flop, meaning that As-Ks is the same value as Ah-Kh, then you can cut this down to 169 non-equivalent starting hands.

In Omaha, both these numbers explode. Pre-flop there are 270,725 possible combinations. Factoring for suits, this reduces to 16,432 distinct hand combinations pre-flop. This opens the door to a world of possibilities and often encourages loose play from players.

Not All Cards Play

1440078829_Cards-DiamondOne of the concepts that trips up many beginners in Omaha Poker is the fact that your best five-card hand consists of two cards in your starting hand and three on the board.

An example of a common mistake you will see a beginner make is they pick up a hand such as Ah-Jh-10h-8d and the board comes Kh-7h-2d-Qh-6s. The beginner thinks they have a Royal Flush because they are used to all cards playing. However, in this case the player has Ah-Jh-Kh-Qh-7h for their best five-card hand. That’s the Ah-Jh from their starting hand and Kh-Qh-7h from the board.

Omaha Poker is a Drawing Game

1440078847_Cards-HeartIn Texas Hold’em, you usually only want to draw to a hand when you have the pot odds to do so. With Omaha Poker, you’re frequently going to put money in on a draw because big drawing hands have superior odds.

When drawing in Omaha Poker, you want to be drawing to the nuts. Drawing to inferior straights and flushes will cost you dearly. Whenever possible, hands with redraw potential are preferable.

An example would be Ah-Kh-10d-9s. If the flop falls, 7h-6h-8s, you have the nut straight but you also have a redraw to the nut flush in case your straight gets outdrawn on the turn.

Knowing that Omaha is a drawing game, this requires that you stay alert when board textures change. When your straight or flush is outdrawn or a different draw gets there, you will often have to get out the pot unless you have a redraw to the nuts.

One important factor to consider is when the board pairs. Due to the number of cards out in opponent’s hands, a paired board presents a full house opportunity. In Texas Hold’em, you don’t often sweat a paired board when you have a nut straight or flush. However, in Omaha Poker it is cause to consider folding, especially if your opponent is showing strength.

Position is More Important

1440078841_Cards-ClubWhile position is important in Hold’em, it is more so in Omaha Poker. Due to most games being Pot-Limit, those in late position not only pick up information on players but they also have the greatest control over the pot. This is true wither you’re playing cash games or in an Omaha poker tournament.

When you’re in early position, you seldom want to be bumping up the pot pre-flop with a few obvious exceptions. The reason is that a later position player can then pot the bet and force you play for a much larger portion of your stack pre-flop.

Late position players have better control. When someone raises into you, you can flat call when you’re drawing or punish them when you have a hand. Since players only can bet the size of the pot, you always know the maximum amount of a bet regardless of the number of opponents.

Prepare to Ride the Roller Coaster

playing cardsIf you aren’t fond of swings in your bankroll, then Omaha Poker is not the game for you. The reason is that you will often find yourself playing for large pots and even your entire stack on a drawing hand or against a drawing hand.

For example, you’re dealt Ah-Kh-Js-10s and the flop falls Qd-Jd-9c. You flopped the nut straight and have a Broadway redraw. You bet the pot and your opponent re-pots for most of your stack. You put the rest of your chips in with the best hand and your opponent calls holding Ad-Kd-9s-9h.

You have the best hand presently but if the board pairs or a diamond falls, you lose. There are many times you will face this situation and your opponent gets there. Of course, you will also win your share of these confrontations from both sides of the coin.

If you follow high stakes online poker, you know that players like Isildur1, durrrr, Patrik Antonius, Phil Galfond and others have experienced massive swings in the past. This is thanks in part to PL Omaha poker. It is a game that can win players six figures one day and lose them three times as much the next.

That is part of the appeal of the game. Players that enjoy Omaha Poker are those that enjoy more action in their poker and don’t mind the swings as much as others do. It is all about the thrill and the chance to amass huge earnings much quicker than you can in Texas Hold’em. That may explain why it is the most popular form of poker in Europe and #2 worldwide behind Texas Hold’em.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.