Origins of the Game
There’s plenty of confusion surrounding the origins and history of Omaha poker. A good number of people presume that the game originated from the Wild West during the 1800s owing to its name ‘Omaha,’ the name of the famous city in the state of Nebraska in the US, which is situated more in the plains towards the out west. However, you may be in for a surprise when you get to know about its actual origins, provided you’re not too well-informed about its history just yet!
It has been found that the game of Omaha poker didn’t come from the city of Omaha, and has nothing related to it except for having the same name. Furthermore, Omaha poker is comparatively much newer than other poker variants. In fact, its history can be traced back to year 1982 in the popular gambling destination of Las Vegas in Nevada. This implies that Omaha poker is no more than a child if put next to other conventional poker variants like Badugi and Razz.
Before Omaha poker became one of the official poker variants, a few other versions of this game had evolved over a period of time, featuring different rules. If you look back, one of the earliest Omaha poker variants used to be played in the mid-western cities such as Chicago and Detroit. This variant used to involve 5 hole cards instead of the regular four, and used to be referred to as ‘Twice Three.’ It’s evolved over a period of time as every player getting 5 hole cards used to limit the number of players that could participate in any given Omaha poker hand.
Later, it started getting played with 4 hole cards and spread throughout the country, specifically in the southern and western regions. The same game used to get referred with different names like Oklahoma, Fort Worth and nine cards. Eventually, the name Omaha was decided as a sort of compromise, with the justification that it was closest to the centre point of the country. Some other commonly used names of the game were: eight or better and high/low split.
Around the year 1982, Omaha poker started appearing at all prominent casinos of the Las Vegas strip and became an instant hit everywhere. Its popularity grew so much that its pot limit version emerged as one of the most enjoyed poker variants in the modern times. Omaha poker comes a close second after the Texas Hold ‘em poker in terms of its popularity.
One of the reasons why Omaha poker became a huge favourite of every one was because it was excellent for tournaments as it required a good amount of strategy. One of its exciting and main features is the high variance in the winning card combinations. Almost every player can make powerful winning hands as he/she gets more cards to create his/her ideal poker hand. As a result, the royal flushes and four of a kinds happen more frequently than normal, making it far more exciting than its other counterparts.
Historical similarities with the Texas Hold’em
Omaha poker is almost the same as the Texas Hold ‘em, with the only difference that the latter allows 2 hole cards to the players instead of the 4 in Omaha. Some older versions of Omaha poker used to involve 2 hole cards as well, just like Texas Hold ‘em, but using those 2 cards was mandatory for the creation of the strongest five card poker hand. However, Omaha poker didn’t gain much popularity with the 2 hole cards version as there just wasn’t enough variance. The 5 hole cards version was also not too popular as not many people could play the game at one time. Dealing of 4 hole cards worked just right for the game, providing it with enough variance and involving enough people in the play.