The Virtues of Omaha

Omaha has been called a drawing game not for its artistic merits, but because more players tend to stay in hands for longer.

If you are an online tournament poker player and like the excitement of Texas Hold’em but are looking for a game with more action, you may want to check out Omaha. The concept is very similar to Texas Hold’em, yet the action is much more fast-paced thanks to the smaller fields and because players generally tend to play a larger number of hands.

I have heard some players say that Texas Hold’em should be called Texas Fold’em, because in tournaments you are going to fold the vast majority of times before you see a flop. In Omaha, you are going to see a lot more flops.

There are a couple of variations; Omaha and Omaha hi-lo, most usually involve some form of restricted betting (limit or pot limit). CardsChat has a detailed strategy section to get you started with the basics, and there are many self-help instructional videos on YouTube with advice on how to play Omaha. Most online sites offer Omaha games.

Poker as Art Form

One of the big differences between Omaha and Hold’em is that Omaha is much more of a drawing game. Each player is dealt four hole cards, which provides many more possibilities, but you can only use two in your final hand (in fact, you must use two).

Players can be chasing flushes, straights, sets, and full houses, all with the same pocket. Imagine the possibilities if you are dealt a pocket with Ah, Kh, Ac and 10c. You can be going after the nut heart flush, the nut club flush, ace high straight or a set or better with your pocket Aces.

The drawing nature of the game means fewer players drop out pre-flop, and many more will hang on through the turn and river simply because the higher number of hole cards gives them many more possibilities, especially in the hi-lo variant.

This results in larger pots and chip stacks that may fluctuate wildly during the course of a tournament, but this is normal. In Hold’em, the better players tend to build their stacks up steadily throughout a tournament until you reach the final table. In Omaha, get ready for a thrill-a-minute roller coaster ride with your chip stack.

No Library Card Needed

If reading your opponents is a weakness, then Omaha may be the game for you. Omaha is more difficult to get a read on what your opponents are working on because there are generally so many possibilities and more players active in a hand.

Your mental energy instead is focused on figuring out what your chances of hitting a big hand are and whether or not it’s worth the risk to continue in the hand.

Being able to read your opponents is not a requirement to success in Omaha because so many players are in a hand and the four hole cards give players countless possibilities.

It is also more difficult to bluff in Omaha. The limit betting makes it harder to put pressure on your opponents (it’s hard to bluff with a min bet), and the drawing nature keeps players in a hand they might otherwise fold in Hold’em.

Due to these factors, some players consider Omaha less of a strategical game and more of a game of chance, where getting lucky is the No. 1 skill needed. Luck is an important variable, of course, but as in Hold’em, decision-making remains the critical skill to be successful.

Time to go Fishing

Another advantage for Omaha is that there are a higher percentage of “fish” or inexperienced players as opposed to Hold’em. Because Hold’em is so dominant in terms of popularity and garners the most attention from television, variants like Omaha are not attracting as many players.

The fishing is great in Omaha as many players do not have a lot of experience in this format.

Playing Omaha takes some mental adjustment. Patience is not as much of a virtue as you will be forced to make many more decisions and play many more hands. You can’t play super tight in Omaha.

If you can figure out the keys to winning at Omaha, you may find it easier to build up a bankroll than concentrating on Hold’em.

If you like fast-paced action with lots of swings in your chip stack, then Omaha is the perfect game for you. If you prefer a more strategical game, feel like you have a good grasp of reading your opponents, and patience is one of your strong suits, then Texas Hold’Em is probably the best bet for you.


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