Omaha poker serves as a logical starting point for the average player looking to branch out from the usual Texas Holdem games. The rules are similar enough that it’s easy to get started but different enough to offer a nice change of pace. If you’re determined to make the switch, the first thing you need to do is find the best Omaha poker site for your bankroll.
The nice thing about Omaha is that it’s popular enough to be featured just about everywhere you go. In fact, I can’t think of any poker sites that don’t offer Omaha cash games and tournaments. So, for the most part, the best Omaha poker sites are the same as the top sites overall.
Whenever you’re looking to play games other than Texas Holdem, one of the main factors you should look for in any potential site is player traffic. “Smaller” games such as Omaha don’t run as often, so it is best to play at high-traffic sites. You’ll be more likely to find tables and tournaments at the stakes you like.
Something else I recommend is to visit a couple of sites, download the poker software and check out the games. You don’t need to make a deposit, but log in and open the lobby to see if they have Omaha cash games, SNGs, or MTTs (whichever you prefer). What you’re looking for are active games at the stakes you think you’ll be playing the most.
Play Omaha Online for Free
It is never bad to give the free money games a try when learning a new game. Anyone new to real money Omaha should consider practicing at the play money tables first. Even though the rules may look familiar to Holdem veterans, subtle differences can be confusing for anyone.
The play money games are a little ridiculous since nobody is worried about losing real money. Still, they do serve as a useful venue for getting familiar with the game’s basic mechanics. Spend a little time in the play money games and practice reading your own hands, seeing which types of hands tend to win pots, and so on.
Play money games aren’t the best places to practice advanced strategy since the play tends to be so wild, but just getting used to the game’s basic rules will prove immensely useful. When you make the switch to real money Omaha, you’ll be less likely to fall victim to the pitfalls that routinely trap new players.
And to be clear, all the best Omaha poker sites do offer play money tables. You can find them by downloading and running the software then logging in to your account. Head to the games lobby and sort the ring game tables by stakes. You should find a variety of play-chip games that you can join without risking any real money. You may also find the occasional freeroll tournament.
Two Mistakes You Need to Avoid
The rules of Omaha are immediately recognizable to anyone with Holdem experience. The only obvious difference between the two formats is that you get 4 hole cards in Omaha. This has two profound impacts on the game that tend to trip up new converts.
First, always remember that you must use exactly two of your hole cards in Omaha. I knew this going in when I first started, but it still tripped me up. You think you’ll remember this rule, but it can really throw you off – especially if you’ve been playing Holdem for a long time. The problem is that you might see a 4-flush on the board and think you have a flush by pairing it with the one card in your hand that completes the flush. Nope. You always need two cards of the same suit to complete a flush.
The two-hole-card rule can also throw you off in more subtle ways. Straight draws aren’t as obvious, and sometimes you will think you have a full house when you don’t. For example, if you have AAKQ and the flop comes AK2, you do not have a full house! You only have three of a kind. It’s also not unheard of for even skilled players to make simple mistakes such as counting three of their cards towards a straight.
These difficulties in reading your own hand also lead to difficulties in reading the hands of other players. In a full table game, you should always be on the lookout for the absolute nuts. The chances that someone has the best possible hand given the current board are much higher in Omaha than in Texas Holdem.
This brings us to the second mistake Omaha beginners make: drawing to anything but the nuts. With each player having twice as many hole cards, the odds of a strong hand go up significantly. In Holdem, you can get away with drawing to any decent flush or straight. This is usually a mistake in Omaha.
Drawing to second-best hands is a recipe for disaster. If you do hit your hand, the other experienced players in the game will back off and refuse to give you action. Experienced players know how frequent monster hands are. If you hit your non-nut draw and get action, there’s an excellent chance the other person has you beaten.
There’s not much to gain by drawing to second-best hands. You only get action when you’re beaten, and your opponents fold when they are weak. This does create opportunities for bluffing, but again, you have to be careful. The frequency of strong hands places a premium on timing your bluffs.