Pot-Limit Omaha is second in popularity behind Hold'em - Here's a complete beginner's guide to the game so can start playing - fast.
Many players move to Pot-Limit Omaha from Texas Hold'em because it's similar but perhaps more challenging. Here are five must-know tips when making the switch.
Here are the official rules of Omaha poker in a 10-step guide, including how-to video on gameplay. Plus betting rules of pot-limit, fixed-limit and more.
When you first start out with your Pot-Limit Omaha strategy, a few simple tips can go a very long way. Keeping your bankroll in the black while you learn the Pot-Limit Omaha game. Stick to the 10 basic Pot-Limit Omaha tips below, though, and you’ll be well ahead of the masses.
If you've never played Omaha, give it a shot now, because it can be challenging and rewarding. There are two truths in Omaha:
One of the most crucial characteristics a player must possess to succeed in Omaha is patience, perhaps more than other forms of poker. It's always best to start by playing a conservative, tight-aggressive style. This means only playing premium hands, with very few exceptions. The good thing however, is that Omaha has much more room for error when playing sub-premium hands than Texas Hold'em does.
To put this into perspective: In Hold'em, there are 169 distinct hand permutations. If you play a conservative game in Hold'em, you will only be playing the top 10 hands (out of the top 10 hands there are actually 16 different options, including suited and offsuit versions of the non-pairs). Out of all the possible starting hands, you will only get to play about 9.5% of them. You will be playing one in 10 hands.
In Omaha, there are 16,432 different possible unique starting hands you can be dealt. Out of those there are 30 premium hands (you can see a list of starting hands in order in this PLO Guide.) Each of these starting hands can be double-suited, single-suited or rainbow. This gives you as a conservative player 90 acceptable starting hands. These 90 starting hands make up a mere 0.5% of all possible hands dealt to you. If you only play premium hands, you will play one hand out of every 200 you're dealt. This means that playing Omaha is going to force you to be playing sub-premium hands.
The less strength a hand holds, the larger possible margin of error you can make with it. Think about Hold'em: if you got dealt AA every hand, you might make a mistake here or there, but on the whole you're going to win most of the pots you play and do very well for yourself. On the other hand, if you were only ever dealt 6-8 off, you would be faced with many more difficult situations, allowing you to make far more mistakes.
In Hold'em, there are a few hands that look great but are actually poor-quality hands. Looking down at K-T it always seems strong at first sight. There are a handful of deceptive hands like this in Hold'em, but they're easy to avoid. In Omaha there are hundreds of hands that look great but have little value to a newer player. An advanced, skilled poker player can play any hand in the correct situation to turn a profit. As a beginner, though, you will make too many mistakes with weak holdings to play them profitably.
If you have Hold'em experience you might fall into the common trap of overplaying low suited connectors, especially if you have four in a row. Have no illusions - hands such as 4567, double-suited or not, are not strong ones for a beginner to be playing.
Omaha is a nut game; if you make a six-high flush, chances are you're going to lose your stack to the nuts. Hands like this need to make the nut straight, with no pair or possible flush. The odds of all of those factors falling into place at once are too slim to make the hand profitable.
In Pot-Limit Omaha strategy, remember no matter what you hold, your opponent's hand has a decent chance of winning. For example, being dealt an A-A-K-K double suited is 50,000-1 (against). And that hand is just a 3:2 favorite to win against 8-7-6-5 double suited. So the question arises: Should you raise when you hold a good starting hand? What about only raising when you hold aces?
The problem with this Pot Limit Omaha strategy is that you become too predictable. Because people will know exactly where you are and will not likely make mistakes against you.
How about always limping in? This is better than just raising with aces, though it's still not an optimal Pot Limit Omaha strategy. Whenever you bet, raise or call on the flop, your opponents will also have a good idea of your hand. If you never raise pre-flop, you don't make other limping players pay enough to see the flop. Also, you won't be picking up as many pots as when you play with a raising Pot Limit Omaha strategy.
By raising with a variety of hands pre-flop, you will gain multiple advantages. You become unpredictable, you pick up more pots, you make opponents pay when you have the best hand. And you get more bluffing opportunities. So clearly, a Pot Limit Omaha strategy of both raising and limping with a variety of hands is the best.
A good pre-flop Pot-Limit Omaha strategy is to raise with any of the top 20 hands mentioned in our Omaha guide. All of which hold at least one suit and most that don't. Though this isn't really enough and you'll need to raise with more hands. Add any four cards in a row that are double suited with cards, six or higher, and all single and double-suited A-K-x-x with at least one x-card, ten or higher. Hands like Q-J-9-8 or J-T-9-7 double suited are also good to raise with.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when switching from Hold'em to Omaha has to do with bluffing - bluffing too much, too little or at dumb moments. Remember there are far more calling stations in Omaha, with players having so many different draws and redraws. On top of the draws, the pots are usually multiway, making them, on average, much larger than in Hold'em. So if this is all true, when and how can you bluff?
When starting out in Omaha, you should almost never bluff. A successful Omaha bluff involves having a strong read on your opponent, a read on what they believe you to have, and a good sense of the texture of the board.
1) Suited Boards: There's no difference between three of a suit or four of a suit on the board. When the fourth card of a suit falls, it may look like a beautiful scare card to a Hold'em player, but it's actually far less significant. If the opponent didn't believe you had a flush on the turn, the fourth card of the suit will not change that opinion.
2) Low, unconnected cards: What may look insignificant or like a scare card to a Hold'em player may have the reverse effect on an Omaha veteran. It's not uncommon for strong PLO players to be holding low pairs or low cards suited with their high ranks.
If you're playing very tight, only playing the top 30 hands and never raising anything less pre-flop, when you do come in for a raise your strong opponents are going to put you on having a pair of aces every time. And they can easily give you credit for one of the aces being suited. This opens the door for you to make a bluff.
On the flip side, in pots like this you're going to have the veterans calling you with any four cards believing you have aces, and playing to crack them. Any board may be a danger board, and any board that looks dangerous will be a prime spot for the veteran to make a PLO resteal.
If you're behind in the hand, these are cards you can hit to take a lead. Example, you have jacks and your opponent has aces, so you need to hit a jack to give you three of a kind. Meaning you have 2 outs (You hold two of the four jacks, leaving two left in the deck for you to hit and win).
An anti-out is a card that would have been an out to your hand, but will strengthen your opponent's hand if you hit it. For example, the player with the aces hits three of a suit on the flop. If you hit a jack of that suit, you have three of a kind, but your opponent has a flush. One of your outs is an anti-out.
True outs are the sum of your anti-outs subtracted from your outs. You have two outs, minus one anti-out, leaving you with one true out. When a poker player talks about "outs" in a story, they're almost always referring to true outs.
A card in your hand that steals opponents' outs. Ex: your 6 7 on a 4 5 K flop, gives you 2 flush outs and straight flush blockers. Players on a nut flush draw can't hit 3 or 8 , giving you 4 blockers. Your opponent is unaware of your blockers, so they miscalculate pot odds, which are now lower.
Your hand: 5 5 6 6 9 9 10 10
Situation: Obviously you have nothing, and have to hit to get a hand. This leaves you with outs and anti-outs. You can then subtract the anti-outs to get your true outs.
Outs: You have a double-wrap straight draw giving you 20 outs (5x3, 6x3, 9x3, 10x3, 4x4, Jx4).
Anti-outs: The better read you can get on what other players hold, the more accurately you'll be able to tally your anti-outs. There are two flush draws out there. Of the like-suited cards left, you hold two in your hand, leaving 16 possibly in the deck.
(There are 13 cards of each suit. 13 - 2 (on the board) - 2 (they must have two in their hand to have the draw) - 1 (in your hand) = 8. Since there are two separate flush draws with the same variables, 8 x 2 = 16 outs to a flush.)
Of those 16, eight are anti-outs for you. Example, if you hit the 9 , you have a straight, but you lose to the heart flush. Any cards that will give you a straight but give an opponent a flush as well must be counted as an anti-out. You also have to count any nine as an anti-out in this situation. If a nine falls there will be 7-8-9 on the board. Out of all the straights you can make, this one puts you most at risk at losing to a higher straight.
Any player with J-T will have you beat. Since a hand with a J-T is likely to have been played, you have to count this as an anti-out. Four nines in the deck. You hold the nine of diamonds, plus you counted the nine of spades and the nine of hearts in the flush anti-outs, leaving only the nine of clubs. This puts total anti-outs to nine.
True Outs: Your 20 outs minus the 9 anti-outs = 11 true outs.
The Board: A A K K 8 8 4 4
Your hand: Q Q J J 10 10 8 8
Situation: It's your first hand at the table and you have no reads on any players. All players in the hand could be playing any four cards. You're assuming you will need the nuts to win.
Answer to practice question: Outs=17, anti-outs=4, true outs=13, blockers=2.
The first step in rocking a combo draw is playing a hand with combo draw potential.
Connect 4: Holding four connecting cards such as 5-6-7-8 will give you the greatest probability of flopping a straight draw, or better yet a wrap straight draw. A wrap is much like a combo draw in itself, as you have multiple straight draws with your one hand.
It Was Suited: If two of your cards are suited you have a chance of flopping a flush draw; if they're double-suited it doubles those odds. As long as it's on the turn, having two flush draws will give you 18 outs to a flush on the river.
Best of Both Worlds: Being four-card-connected and double-suited is ideal. These hands must flop draws (or nuts) to be useful, but when they do you have a very decent chance of landing a combination of draws to the best hand.
A double-suited, double-connected hand can be so powerful, you will even see many players raise with them preflop. A hand such as 9 10 J Q has a very high probability of winning, and isn't even much of a dog to the best possible starting hand of A A K K double-suited. As long as the suits aren't the same between the two hands, the 9 10 J Q hand actually holds just under 40% equity preflop against the A A K K double suited.
As explained in our Pot-Limit Omaha Guide, hands like two-pair on the flop are weak if not paired with a re-draw. When playing a hand like 9 10 J Q , you're playing it to flop nuts, or a hand with a massive amount of draws to the best hand. The type of flop you're hoping to hit with a hand like this is: J Q 3 . Giving you not just top two, but also a flush draw and up-and-down straight draw.
There's a decent chance you have the best hand at the moment, plus you have redraws. Any player holding K-Q in their hand can't hit a king for a higher two pair without you hitting your straight. The only hands that beat you are a higher draw (like ace-high heart-flush draw), or a flopped set.
The more draws you have, the more outs and blockers you hold. If you're holding a hand with only a single draw, you're limiting yourself to max 9 outs. You can't see your opponent's cards; so you have to assume all your outs are in the deck. Because players hold twice as many cards in Omaha as in Hold'em, it's twice as probable your opponents hold some or all of your outs.
Holding a hand with only nine outs (assuming all live) is a sure way to lose money in Omaha. To be successful, you need draws to give yourself blockers, outs and a healthy share of equity in the pot. The simplest way to increase your Omaha win rate is by changing your mindset and playing for the best hand on the turn and river, rather than playing for the flop. Play for the draws, and take your opponents to value town when you hit them.
Omaha is a turn and river game, meaning the leading hand on the flop is rarely the same as on the river. Because almost every flop will give multiple players strong draws. It's not uncommon to see a set up against a flush draw and a wrap straight draw on the flop. This dynamic means it's rare for you to win a pot on the flop.
The turn can make or break a player's drawing hand. The ability to put a player on a hand and understand the texture of the board - most importantly, how the board changes from the flop to the turn - is crucial. You have to be able to read all possible draws and made hands, along with the outs of each improving.
You then have to evaluate that to the state of your own hand. If they hit will you be behind? What do you need to get ahead? What outs do you have? What anti-outs? Do you have any blockers to their draws? Any redraws if they hit?
If you're on a flush draw with a 13-out straight draw, and have been betting it heavy, what picture of your hand will your opponents paint? It's less likely they'll put you on the hand you have (although they will not discount it completely), and more likely that they'll think you're on a strong made hand, a large set or top two. If you've been acting very strong, they might give you credit for a set, with the flush draw.
f you check-call the flop with a big wrap and miss on the turn, and then choose to check-call the turn as well, you're giving your opponent the impression that you're playing a draw. Flush draws are far more obvious to everyone than straight draws, and they also instill more fear in people. This allows you to win the pot by hitting your wrap. Alternatively, your turn play has set up the option of bluffing a river if a third suited card falls.
Focusing on properly value betting, releasing hands and setting up river moves on the turn will dramatically improve your overall PLO profits.
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