Omaha is very similar to the game of Texas Hold’em with only a few fundamental differences. The main difference being that players are dealt four hole cards, as opposed to two, and they must use exactly two hole cards with exactly three of the five community cards to create their best five-card hand. Omaha is often referred to as a game of “the nuts” (the best possible hand) because it frequently takes “the nuts” to win the pot at the showdown. It is also the “O” in the mixed poker game “H.O.R.S.E.”.
There are a few variations of Omaha to be aware of. In Europe the most popular variation is pot limit Omaha high (PLO). This variation is the most straightforward as only the player with the best high hand wins the pot at showdown. The strength of hands follows the normal ranking of poker hands.
For example, if player 1 had A♥ A♣ K♣ 10♦, player 2 had J♣ 9♣ 2♥ 3♥ and the community cards were A♠ 8♥ 9♥ 5♥ Q♥, then player 2 would win with a heart flush. In this example, player 1 only has three of a kind (aces) and not a flush as you must use exactly two of your hole cards.
Omaha Hi-Lo (Omaha eight-or-better)
Omaha Hi-Lo, also known as Omaha eight-or-better, is a slightly more complicated variation of Omaha that is particularly popular in North America. Although no-limit Omaha Hi-Lo games can be found online and at some casinos, it is considerably more rare than the popular pot-limit variety.
The rules for Omaha Hi-Lo are basically the same as Omaha high except that the final pot is split between the best ‘high’ hand and the best, qualifying ‘low’ hand. This is where the name ‘eight-or-better’ comes in. To qualify as a low hand, the player must have 8-7-6-5-4 or lower. The low hand does not need to make a straight in order to qualify so for example A-2-3-4-6 would also qualify as a low hand. If no player has a qualifying low hand, then the pot is won by the player with the best high hand. Statistically, roughly 60% of the time a low hand is possible.