Poker is becoming more and more popular in the recent years worldwide, with many young players that get the “baptism of fire” and also experts who “explore” new poker game variations, among the dozens that are available. Two of the most popular poker game variations are classic Texas Hold’em and Omaha poker. It is a very common mistake for not so experienced players to approach Omaha poker with the same strategy that is used for Texas Hold’em poker.
Omaha poker may look a lot like Texas Hold’em poker, since both variations are played with 5 cards on the player’s hand, but it is at just this point that the similarities end. In Texas Hold’em, the player uses any or all of the open cards on the table, while in Omaha poker he is obliged to combine 2 cards from his hand and 3 cards from the table.
The initial hand
In Omaha poker each player is dealt 4 cards instead of 2. Some believe that this gives them double the original combinations, but in fact 4 cards create 6 possible 2 card combinations. For example if you have 4 cards ABCD, the possible combinations are AB, CD, AC, BD, AD, BC.
With these initial combinations in mind, many Hold’em players think they are more likely to form a better balance, something that does not apply in reality, since all players can use 4 cards to form 6 possible combinations. Therefore in a 10 player game we will have 6 possible combinations and all other opponents a total of 54, so we should be very selective and cautious, far more than in the case of Texas Hold’em.
Mistakes and disputes
One of the biggest mistakes in Omaha poker is when a player bets heavily on a high value pair. Although in Texas Hold’em this scenario is very reasonable, such a move is correct in Omaha because it is simply far more difficult to win such a hand. You must remember that unlike other poker games, Omaha poker is a game where the winner usually wins with a straight, of flush or a full house.
In Texas Hold’em sometimes we can raise late on and it is common for our opponents to fold, it happens quite often in fact. In Omaha poker, however, usually there will be more players that will stay in the game, as the 4 cards each one holds create more ambitions and players tend to believe that’s easier at the end to get a winning combination.
As players continue at each stage of the game, it is a fact that more players take part in Omaha poker and do not like to fold so often. The pot becomes too high most of the times and ultimately it is common for players to persist and finally lose, even though they have very good cards. So it is important in this particular game, for players to have the strength to withstand this psychological defeat, which is very difficult if someone is used to play other poker games where a particular combination would be considered truly unbeatable.
The conclusion is this: If you like Omaha poker and you want to get involved, take the time to learn to play and forget completely the strategy used in Texas Hold’em.
Omaha poker is not like Texas Hold’em.