How to Play Omaha Poker – Rules & Strategy

For fans of poker, knowing how to play Omaha poker is crucial if you want to graduate to mixed games and play what’s arguably the second-most popular poker game in the world.

Here we will teach you how to play Omaha poker, go over Omaha poker strategy, and get into the PLO rules.

For simplicity’s sake, we are only going to discuss PLO poker (Pot-Limit Omaha), the most popular form of Omaha poker. Unless you go off the beaten path, these are the only rules you’ll have to know.

What is Omaha Poker?

Omaha poker is a poker game where you’re dealt four cards and play according to typical Texas Hold’em rules.

However, in the most common form of Omaha, PLO, you are only allowed to bet the size of what’s in the middle of the pot plus the amount that’s required for a call.

That’s exactly what the PLO poker meaning is: Pot-Limit Omaha.

You’ll find PLO at just about every online casino that offers poker. There are also versions of Omaha poker that you very rarely see called NLO (No-Limit Omaha) and FLO (Fixed-Limit Omaha).

PLO rules dictate that you are only allowed to use two of your four cards to make the best possible hand.

If you’re playing the game PLO8 (PLO 8 or Better, also known as PLO Hi/Lo), you can use any two of your four cards to make the best high hand and any two of your cards to make the best low hand, if it qualifies.

Pot-Limit Omaha

Omaha vs Texas Hold’em

PLO, just like Texas Hold’em, is a flop game that uses community cards to make the best hand using your hole cards.

The biggest and most obvious difference between the two games is that you receive four cards in Omaha while you receive just two cards in Texas Hold’em.

The second difference is that, in PLO, your bet size is capped at the size of the pot plus the amount it would be to call. In typical no-limit Texas Hold’em, you’re allowed to bet whatever you want virtually whenever you want.

Of course, there are variations to each game that exist where bet sizing can be fixed or unlimited.

The third big difference is that, in PLO, you must use exactly two cards from your hand and three of the five community cards to form the best five-card hand.

In Texas Hold’em, you have the ability to do the same or to use just one card and four of the community cards.

You could also potentially use none of the cards in your hand and “play the board”, which is common in instances like a rainbow straight.

How to Play Omaha Poker

Now you understand the basic principles of Omaha poker, it’s time to learn about the rules, how to bet, and Omaha poker hands.

Omaha Poker Rules

For the sake of this guide, we will be talking about Pot-Limit Omaha rules in cash games. PLO rules are similar to Hold’em rules with a twist.

  • Players are dealt four cards each one at a time, beginning with the small blind in a clockwise manner.
  • Then the first of four betting rounds will commence, as they would in Texas Hold’em.
  • Players will act preflop and then three community cards are dealt.
  • Another betting round occurs before the fourth community card, the turn, is revealed.
  • The third betting round takes place before the fifth and final community card, the river, is shown.
  • A fourth and final betting round goes down and then players will table their cards. Most times at a live game, players will announce what they have with only the presumed winner showing their cards.

You are allowed to fold, call, or raise just like you would in Texas Hold’em, though you are only allowed to bet the amount of the pot plus the amount it would take to call.

For example, in a $1/$2 cash game, the under-the-gun player would be allowed to raise up to $5 ($3 pot + $2 to call) and the next player could raise it up to $13 ($8 pot + $5 to call) and so on.

How to Bet in Omaha Poker

The rules of betting are somewhat simple, though require some calculations to figure out the maximum amount you’re allowed to bet in PLO poker.

These rules apply to every single chance you’re allowed to bet, regardless of what stage of the hand you’re in.

While you are allowed to call and raise as you’d like, there’s a cap on how much you can raise. The amount you can raise is equal to what’s in the pot plus the amount if you had theoretically called.

For example, if you’re playing with 100/200 blinds and face a call and a raise to 700, the maximum amount you can raise is 1,900 (100+200+200+700+700).

Pots become very large, very quickly, so it’s quite easy to get all in for 50 big blinds unlike in Texas Hold’em, where you usually need two big hands to collide.

Omaha Poker Hands

PLO rules dictate that their poker hand rankings are the exact same as the large majority of all card games.

Here are the hands ranked from best to worst:

Royal Flush A♦ K♦ Q♦ J♦ T♦ The best possible hand in Texas Hold’em, a straight flush including the ace, king, queen, jack, and ten.
Straight Flush 9♠ 8♠ 7♠ 6♠ 5♠ Five cards of the same suit in sequential order.
Four of a Kind 4♦ 4♣ 4♠ 4♥ K♠️
Any four numerically matching cards.
Full House K♠️ K♦ K♣ 8♠ 8♥ The combination of three of a kind and a pair in the same hand.
Flush A♣ J♣ 8♣ 5♣ 2♣ Five cards of the same suit, in any order.
Straight T♠️ 9♥ 8♦ 7♥ 6♠️  Five cards of any suit, in sequential order.
Three of a Kind  7♠️ 7♦ 7♥ K♠️ 5♥ Any three numerically matching cards.
Two Pair A♦ A♥ K♣ K♠️ 5♥ Two different pairs in the same hand.
One Pair 8♠ 8♥ A♣ K♣ Q♣ Any two numerically matching cards.
High Card A♣ J♥ 7♠️ 5♥ 3♦ The highest ranked card in your hand with an ace being the highest and two being the lowest. This hand does not include a pair, straight, or flush.

Omaha Tips & Strategies

Of course, it’s going to take studying and countless hours of playing to master your Omaha poker strategy.

Luckily for you, this author plays a lot of PLO and will give you his own personal PLO strategy tips in order to get you up to speed a lot faster.

Preflop Hand Selection is Crucial

Don’t play any four cards hoping to hit the lottery. Play hands that are connected and suited/double-suited in order to give you the best chance to make the nuts on later streets.

Don’t Get Attached to Naked High Paira

Unlike Texas Hold’em, holding pocket kings isn’t necessarily that strong. A hand like K♣ K♦ 9♠ 4♥ is pretty much junk unless you hit your king. Similar hands with queens and jacks are snap-folds pre-flop. Focus more on connected hands than high pairs.

Rundowns are Super Strong

Hands like J-T-9-8 double-suited are unbelievably strong. J-T-9-8 double-suited is actually the 8th-best possible starting hand and outranks other hands like K-K-Q-Q double-suited, K-Q-J-T double-suited, and A-K-Q-Q double-suited due to its abundance of straight and flush draw possibilities.

Be Aggressive

Calling preflop, especially in early position, can put you in an unfavorable position as players can re-open the action by potting. If your hand isn’t good enough to raise, get out of there. Again, don’t call just so you can see the flop.

Position is Key

PLO is not like Texas Hold’em, where it’s standard for players to check to the preflop aggressor on the flop. Being in position on your opponents is crucial as you will gain a ton of information about their hand strength before the action reaches you.

Don't Limp

You’ll let other players see the flop with worse holdings. The more players that are in the pot, the more your equity decreases. Just like Texas Hold’em, there is no point in limping with your super-strong holdings either, so you’ll be announcing to the table that you have a marginal hand.

Make Early Folds

Equities run super-close in PLO so maintaining your stack is crucial. If players are very aggressive on a 9-7-6 board, you can comfortably get rid of your pocket aces.

Omaha poker is available at most online casino sites. If, after reading our guide, you’re feeling more confident with how PLO works and you are ready to start playing, we’d recommend heading to BetOnline.

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              References

              Blaise Bourgeois
              Poker and Gambling Expert

              Blaise is an Expert Gambling Writer and a professional poker player in Brazil. He has played and traveled throughout Latin America for the last four-and-a-half years and recently won his first WSOP Circuit ring! He received his Master's in Sport Management and Sports Analytics from St. John's University. Blaise also holds a Mathematics and Computer Science degree from SUNY Purchase, where he still holds the school's Men's Soccer record for goals in a season. Blaise has worked for Catena Media, OddsSeeker, WSOP, PokerNews, and Poker.Org in various capacities. He has a passion for extensive research and aims to provide accurate…