If you grew up in the United States in the Seventies, you more than likely sat around the television with a hot cup of chocolate or warm milk once a week and watched “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,” a show that always riveted audiences with the adventure of the wild. If there is one thing the poker game does not share with the old TV show, it is a sense of excitement. Omaha, when played mathematically to win, as opposed to playing “just for fun” has been called “deadly dull” and as “boring as paste” by one of the games great players, Steve Badger. So, what is this game that is so boring to win, yet popular enough to rate a number of events at the World Series of Poker?
Omaha plays very similar to Texas Hold’em. Like Hold’em it is a community card game, and the betting is the same. There is a flop, where three cards are turned over, there is a turn for the fourth board card, and there is a river for the fifth board card. The two major differences, however, make it game of math over luck when compared to Hold’em.
First, players get four hole cards, or pocket cards, as opposed to the two they get in Hold’em. Second, there is no way to use the board to win a pot. In Hold’em the best five card win, even if all five are on the board. In Omaha the best five cards win but you have to use only three of the board cards and two pocket cards. That means that if, by some miracle, you are dealt four aces, you are only going to get to use two of them for your final hand.
Omaha; not the wild kingdom for some like Badger, but certainly a different game for those wanting a little break from Hold’em.