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Omaha resembles Texas Hold ‘Em with two key differences. In Omaha, each player receives four pocket cards, and must play two of them at the showdown, along with three from the table, to form the best five-card hand.
Play starts with the dealer dealing each player four cards face-down (hole or pocket cards). Once all players have received their cards, the first round of betting occurs. Then, the dealer burns a card and reveals three community cards (board cards) face-up. This is called the flop, and is followed by the second round of betting. The dealer then burns another card and reveals one more community card face-up on the table (the turn, or fourth street). Players then bet for a third time.
The dealer now burns one more card and reveals one final community card (the river, or fifth street). The final round of betting takes place, after which there is a showdown. Every remaining player faces-off by showing their hand, starting with the bettor. As mentioned above, players must use two of their pocket cards, and three community cards to create the best possible five-card hand. However, all four of the players’ pocket cards must be shown.
A popular variation of Omaha is Omaha High-Low. This game is typically played with a high-low split of eight-or-better. Players are going for both a high hand and low hand. To do this, each player may use any combination of two pocket cards and three community cards for the high hand and another, or the same, combination of two pocket and three community cards for the low hand.
The rules of Omaha High-Low are the same as regular Omaha, with one added wrinkle. A qualifier of eight-or-better for the low hand applies to all high-low split games (unless specifically posted as otherwise at the table). If there is no hand that meets this qualification for low, then the best high hand takes the whole pot.
A low hand can be difficult to read if you’re a beginner. As a simple rule of thumb, judge your low hand by reading it as a number. The smaller the number, the better. For example, a low hand of 65432 beats a 74321.
As the hand develops, try to always know what the three best hand possibilities are, and how they might change on the next card. The best hand is also called the ‘nut’ hand.
Every now and then it doesn’t hurt to get caught in a bluff, as long as you’re not betting the farm. Getting caught is a good way to avoid being too predictable. This way, you might win a few pots that you don’t deserve. Sure, you’ll lose a few chips when your bluffs don’t work but this will get you calls from weaker hands down the line when your hands are really strong and you need the action. Remember, the best thing to do is keep your opponents guessing.
Seven Card Stud
Seven-Card Stud is played with two to eight players. Generally, the table will inform players of the fixed betting limits. Be sure to ask your dealer. The game starts with every player posting an ante and continues through five rounds of betting.
Before the round starts, each player antes. Ask your dealer for the ante at the table you are playing at. After all players have posted an ante, the dealer deals two pocket cards face-down to each player, as well as one exposed card. This is called third street. The player with the lowest exposed card must then ‘bring in’ and has to bet half of the small bet (in a fixed-limit game). Each player then has the option to raise, call or fold in the first round of betting.
After all bets are made, the dealer then deals another exposed card to each player (fourth street). Then, another round of betting occurs with the player with the best exposed two-card hand starting the betting. Another exposed card is dealt to each player (fifth street), followed by a round of betting. In a fixed-limit game, fifth street is when the big bet kicks in. Play then moves to sixth street, and another exposed card being dealt to each player, with a round of betting afterward. Seventh street is the final round. In this round, each player gets another pocket card face-down. The final round of betting then follows. After all bets, the showdown occurs. The best five-card poker hand wins, made with any combination of the seven cards each player has.
If you start with a high pair of pocket cards, try to eliminate as many other players as possible with fast play. Your pair may not be as strong in later rounds. On the other hand, if you have the makings of a high straight or flush in your first three cards, play it slow. This will increase the pot odds in your favor.
Try to study your opponents, especially if you’ve folded early and are not playing and can pay full attention. Look for traits. Note whether they play more hands than they fold. How often do they bluff, or are they easily bluffed? Watch for their ‘poker face’. Many players reveal the strength of their hand in the way they react to seeing it.
The first four cards you are dealt will tell you a lot about the strength of your hand. Get out early if nothing good is developing at this point. Seven-Card Stud can be costly if you lose in the later rounds.
Texas Hold 'Em
If you’ve been on planet Earth in the last decade you’ve surely heard of it. Most likely, you’ve seen it played on ESPN, the Travel Channel or in a friend’s living room. Come see what all the fuss is about and test your luck.
In Texas Hold ‘Em, all players are dealt two pocket (or hole) cards. Then, a total of five community cards are revealed by the dealer. After all rounds of betting, the best five-card hard, using any combination of pocket and community cards, wins. While the casino dealer is always the one to physically deal the cards, a dealer button is rotated around the table so that each player is in the dealer’s position once per round. This allows the blinds to be set. Normally, two blinds are used, that indicate the two players that will put antes into the pot. It is also possible to play Hold ‘Em with one blind, multiple blinds, an ante, or a combination of blinds plus an ante. Be sure to ask the casino dealer which format is being used at your table.
To start play, the dealer deals each player two pocket cards face-down. Then, a round of betting ensues. After the betting, the dealer burns one card and reveals three community cards face up. This is called the flop. After the flop, there is second round of betting. The dealer then burns another card and reveals one more community card (the turn, or fourth street), and then the third round of betting takes place. After the third betting round, the dealer burns one more card and reveals one final community card. This card is called the river, or fifth street. There is then a final round of betting, followed by a showdown in which each remaining player shows their hand with the bettor showing first.
Players must use one of the following combinations of five cards at the showdown:
- Two pocket cards and three community cards
- One pocket card and four community cards
- Zero pocket cards and all five community cards
After posting your blind, that money is no longer yours, just like an ante. Don’t think that you need to defend the blind by calling raises even when you don’t have a great hand. All this will do is lead to wasting additional money on marginal hands. Also, don’t just always call with the small blind with the assumption that you might as will pay the other half of the ante. If you have nothing, you have nothing. Saving that half of the ante will pay for your next small blind, and get you into the game when your hand is hot.
Choosing whether or not to continue playing after seeing the flop can be a tough decision. It can also be a costly decision if you continue with an weak hand. Keep in mind that the flop determines about 71% of your hand. After those three community cards come out, you’ve seen 5/7 of the final hand. This should give you enough information to determine whether or not to continue.
If you feel that you have the top hand after seeing the turn, go ahead and bet. If you simply check, you may lose a few bets. Most players will call you in a straightforward low-limit game. If your hand truly is the best, why not make them pay? Remember, you’re playing against the other players at the table. Don’t give them a free card. Take them out of the game when you can.
Ranking of hands
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- Four of a Kind
- Full House
- Three of a Kind
- Two Pair
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