It's easy to see why Omaha is gaining popularity. It's an awesome game filled with tons of action and high-level strategy. There's also a very natural similarity to Texas Hold'em which makes learning how to play Omaha easy for most players. The big action Omaha is known for makes the game incredibly exciting and infinitely more interesting to both beginners and professionals alike.
In this article we will explain the basics and teach you how to play Omaha poker.
Basic Omaha Poker Rules
If you already know Texas Hold'em Poker Rules, you also know how to play Omaha Poker more or less. Just as in Texas Hold'em, a full hand is played with four betting rounds. The first round of betting is preflop, the second betting round is after the flop, (the first three community cards), has been dealt, starting with the player left of the button, the third betting round is after the turn, (the fourth of the community cards), has been dealt and the final betting round is after the river, (the final community card) has been dealt.
Omaha is also played in several different variants. The most common ways to play Omaha Poker is: Pot Limit Omaha Hi, 5-card Omaha, 6-Card Omaha, Fixed Limit Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo. But to make it easier lets first focus on basic Pot Limit Omaha Hi, (most mentioned as Pot Limit Omaha), where all players are dealth 4 cards. Let's get started!
How to Play Omaha Poker in 10 Easy Steps
1. Differences between Hold'em and Omaha
- In Omaha, every player is dealt four hole cards (instead of two in Hold'em)
- You MUST use exactly two hole cards together with three community cards to make your best poker hand. You can NEVER only use one hole card.
2. How to Win a Hand
Omaha is a community-card game played with two to ten players on one table. You win chips by winning a pot and you win a pot in one of two ways:
- All the other players fold their hands, making you the only player left in the pot. (Can be done both before any community cards have been dealt (preflop) or at any other betting round.)
- You have the best hand at the showdown. Which gives you the entire pot. (Showdown is when all betting rounds are complete and all community cards have been dealt)
3. Draw for a Dealer and Put Out the Dealer Button
When you have 2-10 players at the table, each with a stack of chips, you're ready to start to play poker. The first thing you need to do is draw the high card for a dealer. Deal every player one card face up. The player with the highest ranked card (Aces are high) will get the button and start the game as the dealer. If two players both have the same high card, either deal both players a second card, or use the suits of their card to determine the winner. (Poker suit ordering is alphabetic from worst to best: Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades). When you have a dealer, give that player the dealer button (typically a white disk) used to keep track of the current dealer in the hand. This player needs to shuffle up the cards and prepare to deal the first hand.
4. Put Out the Blinds and Deal the Cards
Before the cards are dealt in any hand the two players to the left of the dealer need to put out the blinds. Just like in Texas Hold Em the player directly to the left of the dealer puts out the "small" blind and the player to the left of the small blind puts out the "big" blind. Ex: Small blind is 0.05, big blind is 0.10.
Once the blinds are out, the dealer can deal the cards. Start with the player to the dealer's left (the small blind) and move clockwise around the table. Each player is dealt one card at a time (face down) until all players have exactly four cards.
5. Start the First Betting Round
Once the last card is dealt and every player has four cards face down, you are now in the first betting round known as "preflop." The first betting round ends when all players have had a chance to act - and when players who haven't folded have bet the same amount of money in that specific betting round. When you play poker online only one player can act at a time, starting at the player to the left of the big blind. This player has three options:
- Fold: Can pay nothing to the pot, throw away his or her hole cards and wait for the next deal to play again.
- Call: Can match the amount of the big blind.
- Raise: Can raise the bet by at least doubling the amount of the big blind. A player may raise more depending on the betting style you are playing.
6. Continue the Action Clockwise
Once the player to the left of the big blind acts, the action in the pre flop betting round moves clockwise around the table. Each player has the same options: fold, call or raise. The amount of a call or raise always depends on the size of the last bet made in that specific betting round. For example, for the first player to call he or she needs to match the size of the big blind. If they raise, it has to be double the big blind. If there's a raise, the next player has to add the full amount of the big blind + the raise to call.
The Big Blind is Last to Act Pre-Flop. When the action gets back to the small blind he or she can fold, call or raise just like everyone else. If a raise has been made to 0.50 and the small blind has already paid 0.05, they only need to add 0.45 to call. If there has been no raise and the current bet is still the same as the original big blind of 0.10, the big blind can check and continue in the hand. If a raise has come in, they need to add the amount less the original 0.10. Once everyone has had a chance to act and everyone still with a hand has the same amount of money wagered, the pre-flop betting round is over. First three cards are the flop.
7. Deal the Flop and Start Next Betting Round
Once the preflop betting round is concluded the flop is dealt. In a community-card came such as Omaha, there will be five community cards total for any hand reaching a showdown. The flop is the first three of the five cards dealt. The dealer discards the top card on the deck face down (this is called the burn card) and then deals three cards face up in the middle of the table.
The player left of the dealer starts the betting after the flop. After the flop is dealt the next betting round starts on the first player to the left of the dealer still with a hand (players with a hand are known as "live players"). This player is in a similar situation to the big blind preflop. He or she can check or bet. The player is not required to add any money to call and they do not need to fold either. A bet in this round is typically equal to the same amount as the big blind.
Action moves to the next live player to his or her left with the same options available: check (if no bet before), call (match a previous bet), raise (add another bet on top).
8. Deal the Turn and Proceed Betting
Once the flop betting round is complete the dealer deals the turn. The card at the top of the deck is discarded face down face (another burn card), and one card is dealt face up next to the flop. Betting round follows after each new card. The turn's betting round is exactly the same as the flop's with one exception. A single bet on the turn now uses the larger betting limit. Typically the larger betting limit is double the size of the big blind. Sometimes, mostly for convenience, the large betting limit is slightly larger than double the big blind. This is most common in games such as a $2-$5 Limit game.
9. The River, Final Betting and Showdown
Once the turn betting round is complete the final community card is dealt. The dealer discards one final card face down, followed by one card face up. Once the river is dealt the final betting round of the hand begins.The river's betting round is identical in all ways to that of the turn. When the river betting round has been completed all remaining live players enter into the showdown. The concept of the showdown is simple: the player with the best hand wins the pot.
10. Determine the Winning Hand
Evaluating a winning hand in Omaha is slightly different than in Texas Hold'em - even though the poker hand ranking order is the same. Some guidelines for evaluating an Omaha poker hand:
- In Omaha players must use exactly two hole cards from their hand and three cards of the community cards to make the best hand possible. The player can use any two of his or her four hole cards and any three of the five community cards. For example:
- if the community cards are 2 J Q K A
- Player 1 holds hole cards 10 9 9 2
- Player 2 holds hole cards 10 2 3 4
In this pot only Player 1 has a straight (9 10 J Q K ).
Player 2 must use two hole cards from his hand giving him no more than a pair of twos (2 2 A K 10 ).
- If all remaining players have nothing, no pair or anything stronger, the winning hand is the hand with the highest valued single card, meaning:
|A 3 4 6 7
|is a better hand than
|K Q J 9 8
|A J 9 8 6
|is a better hand than
|A 10 9 8 7
Because of having to use exactly two hole cards out of your hand, if the board is a straight A 2 3 4 5 you will need exactly two hole cards to fit into that straight to have a straight as your hand. For example:
6 A K K does not have a straight - the best hand they can make would be a pair of aces.
2 3 Q Q does have a straight, being able to substitute their 2 and 3 for the 2 and 3 on the board.
Lets pretend that both player 1 in this pot has 2 5 K K as hole cards, and Player two would have has 2 3 Q Q , both players would have a straight from A to 5 and they would split and won half the pot each. The rules of Omaha poker might be a bit hard to understand from start, but when you have played Omaha for a while it becomes quite natural.
Suits are never used to evaluate the strength of a hand, in this case the rules in Texas Hold'em and Omaha are the same.
Push the Pot to the Winner: Once you have discerned the winning hand, that player wins the entire pot. When a pot is won the hand is complete. After the hand completes the dealer passes the dealer button to the left. At this point you begin the next hand with the two players to the left of the new dealer putting out their blinds.
Omaha Poker Betting Rules
Omaha is almost always played in either Limit or Pot-Limit betting structures. But just like in other poker games it is possible to play No Limit. Some online poker rooms use that format in specific tournaments, for example Pokerstars. Even though Omaha preferably should not be played as a No-Limit game. The game is inherently action crazed so a strict betting structure helps keep order in the game. Omaha can also be played as a Hi-Lo split game. Players who want to play a high-action Omaha game turn to Pot-Limit as their go-to betting structure. To learn How to Play Omaha Hi Lo, check our dedicated Omaha Hi-Lo page:
The popularity of Pot-Limit Omaha has surged recently to the point that this particular Omaha Poker variation is now the second most played poker variant both online and live. In fact, it's not uncommon for 100% of the night's online high-stakes poker games action to take place over Omaha tables. Sometimes even professionals get the feeling that everyone knows how to play omaha poker these days. Thats how popular this game has become.
More Pot Limit Omaha Rules
- Every Betting Round proceeds clockwise from the button. The player to the left of the button is the small blind and the player on his left is the big blind. The player on his left is under the gun, and acts first. More on poker positions around the table here.
- His options are to call the big blind, raise or fold.
- Your minimum bet is equal to the size of the big blind (this is assuming no players have bet before you on this betting round).
- To determine the maximum bet, count all the money in the pot and all the bets on the table, including any call you would make before raising. (It sounds more complicated than it really is.) Two examples for you:
- You're first to act on the flop with a pot of $15. You have the option to check or bet. You can bet anywhere from as little as the amount of the big blind, to the full amount of the pot ($15). Any bet in between is a "legal bet."
- You're second to act on the flop with a pot of $15. The first player bets $10. You now have the option to fold, call ($10) or raise.
- Your minimum raise is equal to the amount of the previous bet. In this hand your minimum raise is $10 ($10 + $10 for a total bet of $20).
- Your maximum raise is the amount of the pot. To figure this out, add up the pot + the bet + your call ($15 + $10 + $10 = $35). You are allowed to bet that total amount in addition to your call, meaning your total bet is $45 ($10 for the call + $35 for the size of the pot).
- You can raise any amount in between the minimum and the maximum raise amount.
- The size of the game is determined by the blind size. The buy-in is usually minimum 20 big blinds and maximum 100 big blinds.
Video about how to play Pot Limit Omaha
- Full Pot Limit Omaha Guide
- Omaha Poker Sites
- All PokerListings Online Poker Sites
- PLO Starting Hands
- Omaha Strategy Articles Collection
- In Limit Omaha the betting limits are fixed.
- The size of the game is determined by the bet size. For example, in a $4/$8 game the small bet is $4 and the big bet is $8. The blinds would be $2 and $4.
- Play proceeds as it does in any community card game, with the blinds to the left of the button and the play proceeding clockwise.
- Betting and raising are done in increments.
- Before the flop betting works in increments of the small bet; $4 in our example. A bet would be equal to $4, a raise would be to a total of $8.
- On the turn and river betting works in increments of the big bet; $8 in our example. A bet would be equal to $8, a raise would be equal to $16.
The Limit betting structure puts a cap on the number of raises. Most venues allow a maximum of a bet and three raises, although some rooms have a cap of four raises. In Limit Omaha you have to be even more selective when it comes to hole cards.
Omaha Hi is About Making the Nuts
Omaha Hi is not only a game of the nuts but a game of “the nuts with a back-up plan.” In Hold’em you can regularly win pots without the nuts. You win with pairs, two pairs and sets. Straights and flushes are almost always good. In Omaha, pairs rarely win. A set often loses to an over-set. If you don’t have the nut straight or nut flush someone else probably does and you’re going to get felted.
In Omaha Poker, you have to be worried about getting “freerolled” in a hand. Example: You have 9 10 J A . The flop is 6 7 8 . On a flop like that one there are many different ways to make a straight. Any combination of 54 or 95 makes a smaller straight. You have the nut straight as well as the nut flush draw and a draw to a bigger straight.
You have this board crushed. Not only do you “cooler” any smaller straight but you also have a freeroll (with your flush draw and bigger straight draw) on any other player who has likewise flopped the nut straight. When players first come over from Hold’em they may think they have the nuts with any straight and be happy to get it in. But in Omaha, more times than not if you have bottom straight and a lot of money goes in you’re going to be way behind. Therefor you have to be very selective when it comes to your hole cards. It is always much better to have connected hole cards like 6 7 8 9 or K Q J 10 than having hole cards like A K 7 3 or J J 6 2 .
Best is if you also have your hole cards double suited, e.g K Q J 10 . It is with this kind of hands you often freroll your opponents. Lets say your hole cards are K Q J 10 , and your opponents hole cards are J 10 6 5 and the flop lands 7 8 9 , both of you have flopped the highest possible straight and ends up all in. In this case you freeroll your opponent in two ways because with your king and queen as hole cards, any Ten or any Jack on turn or river will give you a higher straight, you also have K J with the same suit as hole cards, which also gives you a flushdraw. This is how to play Omaha Poker!
Play Omaha Poker Online
If you now are ready to test your skills against other players there are several online poker rooms where you can play omaha poker online. Just remember the basics
- Use exactly two hole cards
- Use three of the community cards
- Play connected hands with two hole cards of the same suit, Q J 10 9 , preferably double suits Q J 10 9
- It is all about having the best poker hand after the river card has landed.
What is Omaha poker?Omaha - PLO - Pot-Limit Omaha - is a poker variation played with four hole cards instead of two. There's a natural similarity to Texas Hold'em which is why many players transition to it. But because there are more combinations, it invites a lot of action.
How to play Omaha hi lo?Omaha hi lo or "Omaha 8" is similar to PLO / pot-limit Omaha (Omaha 'high'). Except Omaha hi lo is the split-pot version where players compete for both the "low" and "high" halves of the pot.
Like in PLO, hi low players get four hole cards. They need to use two of them combined with 3 community cards to make a poker hand. And just like Hold'em and PLO, a player can win a pot before showdown if all other players fold to them.
However, if there's a 'call' and a showdown, both players' hands are compared. The player with the "high" hand gets half and the player with the "low" hand gets the other half. A player can win both halves of the pot too - called a "SCOOP".
How to deal Omaha poker?Each player gets dealt four hole cards (instead of two like Texas Hold'em). They must use two of them to make the best poker hand.
What beats what in Omaha poker?Omaha poker uses the standard Poker Hand Rankings. The best PLO poker hands are ranked as follows: - Royal Flush - Straight Flush - Four of a Kind - Full House - Flush - Straight - Three of a Kind - Two Pair - One Pair - High Card Here's a full list of poker hand rankings and explanations.
How to win Omaha poker?You need to use two of your four hole cards along with the community cards on the board to make the best poker hand. Hand rankings are the same used for Hold'em.
Where to play poker omaha?You can play PLO/ Omaha at any of the top poker rooms we recommend.