Community based card games such as Texas hold’em are all the rage these days. What you may not know however is that there is another family of games that are very similar but offer some unique differences. Omaha poker is a community based game just like hold’em but there are few mechanical differences and definitely some strategic differences. Omaha poker offers players two different variations. There is regular Omaha that is played for the high hand just like any other poker game and then there is Omaha high low where players compete for both the best high hand and the best low hand.Game play differencesIn Omaha poker games players begin each hand with four cards. While this may seem like a huge advantage over hold’em there is a catch: you only get to use two of those cards. That’s right, in Omaha you have to use exactly two cards from your hand and exactly three cards from the board. So that means if you have a heart in your hand and there are four hearts on the board, you unfortunately do not have a flush. Similarly if you have three jacks in your hand and a fourth one hits on the board, you do not have four of a kind, the best you can do is three of a kind. Beginners often have trouble adapting to these somewhat strange Omaha rules, but with time you will quickly be able to evaluate your hand. Aside from the above differences, everything in Omaha plays the same as Texas hold’em. Omaha is usually played in fixed or pot limit variations although there are some no limit games. In Omaha high low, the pot is split into two halves. The player with the best regular hand, such as a flush or a straight, wins the high half of the pot and the player with the best low hand, wins the low half of the pot. The ideal situation in Omaha high low is to have both the best high hand and the best low hand in which case you win both halves of the pot.Strategic ThoughtsSomething you will need to realize right away when playing Omaha is that it is a game of the nuts. Second or third best hands in Omaha are horribly expensive and often are the difference between a winning player and a dead broke player. It is critical that you adopt a highly selective starting hand strategy right from the beginning so that you are in the best position possible to win with nut hands. Like most poker games, starting hand selection is critical in Omaha. In fact, Omaha requires that you be even more selective and picky than you would be in Texas hold’em! While you certainly can win with second or third nut hands in Omaha, these situations will require some additional skills in the areas of player reading, odds and your overall general poker experience. There is one steadfast rule in Omaha and that is if you regularly play second best hands you will run out of money faster than you can say broke. Players who stick to a tight game plan and can effectively manage the many enticing (but ultimately) bad situations that are presented in Omaha have a great shot at being very profitable.