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How to Play Omaha-Five Poker


OMAHA FIVE Poker (aka Hot Omaha): Played like Omaha with this twist: Deal 5 cards down to each player. Before any betting each player must discard one hole card face down in the middle of the table. These cards are shuffled or mixed together. 5 of these discarded cards are drawn and used as the flop, turn and river. Play continues exactly like Omaha. May be played high, high-low split or high-low eight or better.

Summary of action
Deal 5 hole cards to each player.
Each player selects 1 card from their hand and discards it face down.
Gather and mix/shuffle all discarded cards.
Use these cards to deal flop, turn and river.
Deal 3 cards from discards as flop.
Deal 1 card from discards as turn.
Deal 1 card from discards as river.
High only: Showdown
High-low split: Declare

Playing Tips for Omaha-Five Poker


There are an enormous number of books, articles and other information to guide you in playing Omaha. Most of that information will be very helpful in playing just about any version of Omaha, including Omaha-Five. It is well worth your time to learn from those sources. So, these playing tips are not going to get into any of that knowledge. But, Omaha-Five poker has important differences compared to "regular" Omaha and has to be played considerably differently.

The Board Cards Are The Difference


In Omaha the flop, turn and river consist of random cards that come from the unseen deck. There is a equal chance that any card may appear. In contrast, the board cards in Omaha-Five poker are not random. The board consists of cards that have been seen and selected by the players. The board is "hot" meaning the board is more likely to contain some cards and less likely to contain others depending upon how valuable they seem to players. Predicting what those cards are is one of the most important objectives in playing Omaha-Five poker.

Predicting The Other Players' Play


It is important to think about what the other players will do. What cards will they most likely keep? What cards will they most likely contribute to the board cards? These two decisions are very important for they will influence on what you will do.

Unless they have given it some thought the average player is likely to view their hole cards the same way they do for Omaha. They will keep what they view as their 4 most favorable cards and discard what they think is the card that least coordinates with their other cards. If they do this they will often not consider if the card they discard will be helpful to another player. That will often lead to mistakes. Cards that players will most likely keep are any ace, very low cards (if playing high-low split), very high cards, pairs, suited and unsuited connected cards. The cards they are most likely to discard are middle ranked cards and any other card that is not well coordinated with their other four.

Here is a summary of what other players are likely to do with each card when playing high-low split versions of this game. If playing high only versions players will be far more likely to keep their highest cards and discard low cards unless they are paired or suited to an ace or king.

Ace - As the highest and lowest card an ace will almost always keep. May consider discarding only if not paired, not suited, not connected with other high cards (KQJT), they have no other low card, they hold 2 other pairs. Even in those circumstances discarding an ace will almost certainly help another player.
2 - Will discard if they have no ace or 3, it is not paired, not suited to another high card (KQ).
3 - Will keep if they have a single ace or A2 (for "insurance), if it is suited to another high card or paired. Might keep if they have a single 2 without ace, though that is typically a mistake.
4 -Will discard unless suited to ace or other high card or paired. Might keep as "insurance" if holding A2 or A3.
5 -Will discard unless suited to ace or other high card, paired or suited connected.
6 -Will discard unless suited to ace or other high card, paired or suited connected.
7 -Will discard unless suited to ace or other high card, paired or suited connected.
8 -Will discard unless suited to ace or other high card, paired or suited connected.
9 -Will discard unless suited to ace or other high card, paired or suited connected.
10 -Will discard unless suited to ace or other high card, paired or suited connected.
Jack -Will keep if suited, connected (including gapped) or paired.
Queen -Will keep if suited, connected (including gapped) or paired.
King -Will keep if suited, connected (including gapped) or paired.

Determining Your Play


The cards that are discarded come back into play as the board cards. In an 8 handed game there is a 62.5% chance that the card a player discards will come into play. It is 71% for a 7 handed game. Keeping that in mind the first objective is that a player should try to keep cards that the other players are most likely to discard, especially pairs or the higher ranks of those cards. A second objective is to attempt to discard a card that will help his hand if it re-appears but be less likely to help an opponent. Granted, that is not always easy to do. There will often be contradictory pros and cons about what to keep and what to discard, but it is still the goal. Some examples may help.

Example: Your 5 hole cards are 77889. At first thought it may seem that it is the 9 that should be discarded since it is not paired. But, if it is what is its value if it re-appears? It has only minor value by being connected to 78. If another player holds a pair of 9's discarding your 9 helps him enormously. He will have trips higher than any trips you can make. If he makes a full house 9's full will be higher than any full house of yours. What if you discarded a 7? If it re-appears you have your pair back. No one else is likely to hold the other pair of 7's or 8's. And since unpaired middle cards are the ones most other players will discard it is likely additional 7's, 8's or 9's will appear.

On the other hand, if your cards were 78899 it makes sense to discard the unmatched 7. Now it is you who have the draw to the higher trips and full houses.

Remember The Card You Discarded


It is important to remember the card you discarded exactly by both rank and suit. Let's say you are dealt a hand that contains trip sevens - 2 red and 1 black. You discard the black 7 knowing that you have a very good chance of it coming back to give you trips. The flop comes with the 7 of clubs and there you are! But, was that the black 7 you discarded? What if you discarded the 7 of spades? Wouldn't you love to know for certain that the 4th seven was still out there? The only way you can know that is to remember exactly what card you discarded, so make sure you do. (If you are dealt trips 2 of them will always be the same color. Discard one of those rather than the odd colored card. It will be easier for you to remember. eg. "red 7")

Obvious And Not So Obvious Decisions


Obvious decisions for Omaha-Five is to always keep A2 for the nut low. Other players rarely discard aces so A2 is not likely to be counterfeited unless someone throws away a deuce. If you also have a 3 keep it for "insurance". If you have A23 play it strong from the start as there is very little chance of losing. In an eight handed game if you are not dealt A2 there is a better than even chance someone else was. A3 has a shot at becoming the nuts and might win on its own. It also has about an equal chance of being ruined by someone discarding a three. 32 stands little chance as do any low hands that are 2 cards from the nuts (eg.A4).

Another obvious decision is discarding the 3rd card if you are dealt trips since you can only use 2 of your hole cards. But, there are rare situations in which it is probably better not to. If you were dealt AAA2X or A222X you have the nut low nearly guaranteed. If you discard the 3rd ace or deuce you face the possibility of ruining your near lock on low and that makes no sense. Were you to hold AAA23, then discarding an ace still leaves you with the probable winning low hand if the ace does not re-appear. Even if it does re-appear you still have the potential low winner (but possibly tied). You would also have trip aces with the potential to make aces full for high.

When Good is Probably Not Good Enough


There are some situations when hole cards, especially low ones, are appealing to play in Omaha, but are usually worthless in Omaha-Five. Here are some examples.

In Omaha A3 or 23 are only a single board card away from making the nut low. In Omaha-Five that is probably not going to happen. You should expect that aces are rarely discarded so 23 is hardly ever going to make the best low hand. If you hold A3 there is a chance that a deuce may be discarded so you could get lucky with it. It could also win by itself (though it is tough to bet it) but might just as easily be counterfeited if someone dumps a 3.

For high, do not count on a pocket pair of aces of kings becoming trips. (Kings might; aces probably not.) But, they still have value if suited or connected to other cards in your hand.

Since players are more likely to discard similar cards expect to see the board pair more often. As a result, expect more frequent full houses and quads resulting and fewer straights or flushes being winners.