Yes, the games are similar, but the biggest mistake most beginning players make when they are starting out is in thinking that they can start with the same starting hands and bet the way they would in hold’em. If you do, you are doing nothing more than making a donation to everyone else at the table.
The first difference in the two games is that you are going to get dealt 4 cards in the hole instead of 2. This is very important to know as if you are playing on a full table, just about every card in the deck is going to be dealt out. This means that you are going to have to play cards very carefully going into the river as many a great hand has gone on to die a slow death when that card has been turned over.
Playing Omaha before the flop is much different than no limit. While you will see the occasional raise, it is few and far between to see the game get capped or consecutive raises happen before the flop is dealt out. In most cases, the only hands that even consider raising are AAxx and KKxx, but doing so causes a major problem. Basically, everyone at the table knows what you have at that point and can play accordingly.
The reason you will see a lot of callers before the flop and not much raising is that the possibility of hands is endless. Yes, you still need to be selective in what you play, but with four cards in your hand, you just never know what kind of shape you are in until the flop hits.
Ideally, you want to start the hand off with a decent pocket pair with straight and high flush possibilities. AsAh10s5h would be a hand that would have you salivating before the flop. You are sitting with the best pocket pair that you can start with, two nut flush draws and both a high and low flush possibility.
Once the flop hits, the game changes dramatically. Great hands are turned into complete garbage and questionable hands become fortune makers. Once the flop is dealt, take your time and look it over to see every possibility. Even if you are in the lead, you have to look and see what is out there that could beat you. If there is a draw, someone is holding it in their hand.
If you are playing a straight, you need to make sure that you have the nuts. Since you have to play two cards, it is critical that you have the best two cards on the straight. When you hit a 2 gapper in the middle with no other possibilities, you are locked in. However, if you are sitting on 46 to a flop of 257 and then an 8 hits, you could be in a heap of trouble. You immediately go from the nuts to the low end of the straight. If you fire a bet and someone comes over top of you, you can be pretty sure that they are sitting on the 69. If a 9 hits the river, everyone is now looking down the barrel of a J10 that will steal it on the river.
More than any other game, it is extremely important to watch and see what kinds of hands people start out with. Omaha invites chasers and there are those that will play solid and there are those that will literally play any four cards. You better know the difference when you get into a pot with them.