Exclusive: PokerStars Readies Split Omaha Exclusive: PokerStars Readies Split Omaha

While poker players are still grasping the rules of 6+ Hold’em, it seems that PokerStars is readying itself with yet another new game novelty.

Thanks to the latest client update to PokerStars various clients, it appears that a double board game and chopped pots could return as recent graphics released suggest that a new poker variant called Split Omaha is in the workings.

Not so long ago, PokerStars introduced Split Hold’em—a game inspired by a common home game known as Double Flop Hold’em where two boards of community cards are dealt and the pot is usually split between the best hands on each board. On rare occasions, players could also scoop the full pot if they have the best hand on each of the boards. The format was spread in No Limit 6-max cash game format and the game lasted for six weeks.

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Now, the operator is looking to re-launch a twist on this double board variant, not as Hold’em but this time as an Omaha version. Although the game is not widely popular, it still appears in some dealer’s choice games and is often spread in mixed cash games in Las Vegas during the WSOP as well as at Monte Carlo.

How is Double Board Omaha Played?

Some call it Double Omaha while some call it Double Board Omaha High, the game sticks to the rules of regular Omaha (i.e. the game is usually played either in Limit or Pot Limit structure with each of the players getting dealt four hole cards). Hand rankings remain the same, and like in Omaha, players must make the best five card hand from two in their hand and three on the board. The only difference is that players have two choices of community cards to make their hand.

The rules for winning the pot can differ from game to game. Some organizers run a version where the player who forms the best hand by using cards from both boards wins the pot. Another version (which is more popular and likely to be followed by PokerStars as the name suggests) splits the pot between the best hand from each of the board with the possibility to scoop the pot by having the best hands for both boards.

The addition of another community board would add significant new depth and player strategy to the game. Players will have to rethink their strategies like adjusting the value of starting hands and bet sizes. Choosing what hands to play will become more important as the goal will be to win both halves of the pot and not aim to win only one board. Hands like suited connectors will become stronger and will likely increase the odds of scooping the pot.

In fact, this is what the room is aiming for i.e., “to test [players] wits in a fresh format that is new for everybody.”

Split Omaha would be the operator’s first proper cash game novelty that would be played wholly as an Omaha variant. All the previous games were played as Hold’em except for Fusion, which was a blend of Hold’em and Omaha.

Will Split Omaha Replace 6+ Hold’em?

Currently, the room is offering 6+ Hold’em—a game that has grown incredibly popular among the high-stakes community over the last year. It made its debut at PokerStars across its global player pool on January 16. The room also revealed its intention to launch 6+ (also called Six Plus Hold’em or Short Deck Poker) in the Italian segregated room, a market where none of the previous cash game novelties made a debut.

Given the format’s increasing popularity and the room’s plan to launch this game in the Italian market, it was thought that Six Plus could become a permanent fixture such as Zoom and Spin & Gos.

However, recently PokerStars sent out an email to its players reminding them the game is “available for a limited only.” If this is true, 6+ could very well be replaced with Split Omaha.

All the previous games have had trial runs of about six to eight weeks. If history is of any indication, 6+ could see its departure from the PokerStars client in the middle of March with Split Omaha launching at the end of March just like Split Hold’em did last year. There is also a possibility of Split Hold’em returning along with Split Omaha.

PokerStars Cash Game Novelties Timeline 2018-19

Variant Format Type Launch Date Withdrawn Date Total Days it Ran
Split Hold’em 6-Max No Limit March 28 May 14 55 days
Showtime Hold’em 6-Max No Limit May 23 July 23 62 days
Unfold Hold’em 8-Max No Limit August 2 September 27 57 days
Fusion 6-Max Pot Limit November 7 January 9 64 days
6+ Hold’em 6-Max No Limit January 16 - -
Split Omaha? - - - -