Pot-Limit Omaha Beginners Guide Part 3

Building a Mountain

Part three of a detailed three-part guide to getting started in Pot-Limit Omaha. Part three covers post-flop play, odds, and how to play specific hands and draws.

Playing the Flop in Pot-Limit Omaha

Whether or not you were the pre-flop raiser makes a big difference in the way you play your hand. If you're the raiser and you miss the flop, should you bet out (referred to as a continuation bet or c-bet)?

Being the pre-flop raiser allows your opponents to give you respect for having a strong hand. If they don't hit the flop, it will make it hard for them to call any bet you put out on the flop. In Hold'em, this happens much more often than it will in Omaha.

Because your opponents have the potential to hold two different flush possibilities, along with a wrap straight draw, it's much more likely that they will have hit enough of a hand on the flop to be willing to call you down.

This doesn't render c-betting obsolete; it just forces you to be more selective and diligent.

For example:

It's three-handed heading to the flop. You raised a pair of naked aces.

Your Hand The Flop
A A 2 8 Q J T

Having a pair of aces here in Hold'em isn't the nuts, but it's not an altogether weak holding either. In Omaha, though, you have to be very afraid of your hand. This is a good time to check the flop and let the other two players fight for it.

As stated before, Omaha is a nut game - aside from a 1% running house draw, you have no chance of making the nuts. This is not a hand to get invested in.

But if the flop falls differently:

Your Hand The Flop
A A 2 8 Q 7 3

This flop isn't the best for your hand, but at the same time it's not altogether bad. This is a flop worth betting at. While you don't have the nuts, you do have a strong enough hand not to have to sign off just yet.

Just don't get too married to the hand; there's no shame in laying down after you raise.

Flopping Two Pair in PLO

Jeff Madsen
Jeff Madsen, exhausted during some Omaha play.

Flopping two pair is a situation that gives many players a difficult time. Two pair in Hold'em is a very strong holding, while in Omaha it is very vulnerable. Again, pots in Omaha are most commonly won by straights and flushes, unlike in Hold'em where they're more often taken down by pairs and two pairs.

Flopping top two pair against a double-wrapped straight draw is only 35% to win the pot. The potential to have upward of 20 outs in Omaha allows for drawing hands to be statistically ahead of made hands.

If anyone is willing to call you after betting out with two pair, they either have you beat, or have a strong draw to end up ahead. In a nut game, you have to be willing to ditch the marginal holdings, no matter how good they look on the flop.

One of the worst scenarios is playing bottom two pair. With sets being far more common in Omaha, turning a full house with bottom two is guaranteed to cost you your stack up against a flopped middle or top set.


If you follow the playing style recommended in this article and avoid playing small pairs, you should not find yourself in many situations where you are up against a bigger set. If you were the pre-flop raiser, almost always bet out on the flop if you hit a set.

It is seldom wrong to bet out with top set in a short-handed pot, even though the board looks scary. Remember that anytime you flop a set, you have about a 34% chance of improving to a full house on the turn and river combined.

For example:

You're the pre-flop raiser.

Your Hand The Flop
K K 7 6 K J 9

On this board, you have top set, but are behind a made straight. With the flush draw out there, you are almost guaranteed action.

The worst-case scenario has you up against a player holding the queen and ten of spades. Not only do they have the made straight and the flush draw, but they have a blocker on the 9. Hitting the 9 to make your full house will give them a straight flush.

Even in this worst-case scenario, you're just over 33% to win the pot. Against a made straight you're slightly better, and against a naked flush you're close to 75% to win.

Let's put you into a multiway pot against two monster hands:

The Flop: K J 9

Player Hand % to Win
You K K 7 6 39.79%
Villain #1 Q T 5 6 30.18%
Villain #2 A 2 2 A 30.03%

Even though you're up against a made straight, a nut flush draw, and an overpair, you are still almost 40% to win the pot and have the most equity multiway.

When you have the most equity, you want to pump up the pots. In this scenario, it would be rare for either player to fold on this flop, allowing you to get large money from both players into the pot.

Because the other players will be accounting for 66% of the money going into the pot, your 40% to win gives you pot odds to be betting out against a made hand. The size of the pot also gives you implied odds for a strong value bet.

If the turn brings the flush while pairing the board, chances are Villain #1 will fold out of the hand, while Villain #2 will be willing to call value-sized bets with only two outs to take the pot.

One thing to keep in mind in Omaha is that many players will only ever raise pre-flop if they're holding a pair of aces. These players can be easy to spot, and as such can be easy opponents to fold to once an ace falls on the flop.

If you truly believe a player only raises AA, you have to use this read to lay down bottom or middle set on an ace-high flop against them. There's no use getting a read if you're not going to act on it.

Playing Straight Draws on the Flop in PLO

In Omaha you will flop many kinds of straight draws. What you want to flop are so-called wraparound straight draws. This happens when the flop comes with two cards that connect and you have cards that surround these two cards. Let us look at a few examples:

1. Hand: Q-J-8-x Flop: T-9-x Outs: 17 (wraparound)
2. Hand: J-8-7-x Flop: T-9-x Outs: 17 (wraparound)
3. Hand: K-Q-J-x Flop: T-9-x Outs: 13
4. Hand: 8-7-6-x Flop: T-9-x Outs: 13
5. Hand Q-J-8-7 Flop: T-9-x Outs: 20 (double wraparound)

It is better to have more overcards than undercards, as it's always best to be drawing to the nut straight rather than the sucker end. For this reason, Hand 1 is stronger than Hand 2 and Hand 3 is stronger than Hand 4.

Doyle Brunson
What's a strategy guide without a shot of Doyle Brunson?

In a situation where Hand 1 and Hand 2 get it all-in on the flop, Hand 2's strength will diminish considerably, leaving it in very bad shape.

You should bet the majority of your big draws on the flop (known as "betting on the come"). You do this for three reasons:

1. You can take down the pot immediately (semi-bluff).

2. It adds deception to your game, because you're not only betting made hands.

3. With 20 outs in a hand, you are statistically a favorite to win the pot. When you have the most equity, it's always a good time to put money into the pot.

If you flop a 13-out straight draw (you have three on top, or three below the connected board cards) where all your outs are live (meaning no flush, full-house, or higher straight is possible), you have a 50% chance of making your straight with two cards to come.

Once you have an idea of how powerful large-out drawing hands can be in Omaha, it will greatly affect how you play with, and against, such situations.

The Turn

As stated earlier, the turn is one of the most important streets in Omaha, more important than pre-flop, and in some ways more important than the flop. The flop brings made hands, draws and possibilities for redraws. The turn does the following:

  • Solidifies made hands. Example: Pairs the board making top set into the big full.
  • Breaks made hands. Example: Brings the third card of a suit against a flopped straight.
  • Kills any option for flopped backdoor draws.
  • Creates new draws.

It is at this point, with only one card to come, that you can be more decisive about whether or not you will be continuing on in the hand. Especially in Pot-Limit, the pot is significantly larger on the turn than on the flop, giving the aggressor the opportunity to make much larger bets.

With only one draw with one card to go, it becomes much more difficult to make a second pot call three times larger than that on the flop.

The fact that you can hold draws with massive amounts of outs in Omaha allows you to make large calls on the turn. For example, if you hold a minimum of 13 outs to beat whatever your opponent might be holding, it is appropriate to call a pot-sized bet on the turn, though only if both you and your opponent have money left on the river.

With 13 outs, you are slightly less than 2-1 (13/44=29.5%) against improving, and those are the exact odds the pot is laying you in this case. Because of the implied odds when there is more money left to win, a call is correct.

For a more in-depth look into pot and implied odds check out these two articles:

Odd Talk: Understanding "Pot-Committed"

Playing for Implied Odds

The River

As in Hold'em, the river is all about value betting properly with the winning hand and conserving losses with the losing hand. If you hold the nuts, contemplate what your opponent might possibly hold and try to squeeze out the maximum.

If you missed your draw, you must either give up or try a big bluff in case a scare card hits. A lot of judgment is needed when the pot is big and you hold a good hand but not the nuts.

You must consider what your opponent is capable of. Will he try to run a bluff if checked to? Or will he also check? Do you dare to value bet with a good hand that is not the nuts?


Bluffing plays an important role in all forms of poker. In Omaha, bluffing is invoked less frequently than in Hold'em, but it remains an important skill to master.

It is best to bluff when you hold one or more of the key cards in the hand, for example, when you hold the bare ace and there is a possible flush on the board. When deciding whether or not to bluff, always consider the following factors:

  1. Type of opponent. Do not bluff weak opponents who call with anything (referred to as "calling stations"). This is the most common mistake. Be sure that your opponent is a good enough player to fold a hand.
  2. Number of opponents. In general, do not bluff a field of three or more players. A bluff is much more likely to succeed against one opponent, not only because it is just one player but also because the pot is usually smaller, which makes it less desirable.
  3. Your table image. A bluff is less likely to succeed if you have a loose table image as opposed to a tight one. If you were recently caught bluffing, your opponents will be more likely to call you in the future, although reverse psychology can occasionally prove beneficial in such situations. For example, if a good player caught you bluffing and he regards you as a good player, he might think you would not dare to bluff him again.
  4. Your "reading" skills. If you "read" the game well and are able to put your opponents on likely holdings, you will be able to identify good bluffing opportunities. This is probably the hardest and most important skill to master.
  5. The board. If the board looks like it could have hit your opponents or presents many drawing possibilities, a bluff is less likely to succeed. Look for boards without many draws or cards that are likely to improve your opponents' hands. If you can represent a hand, the bluff is more likely to succeed. An uncoordinated board with one scare card that you can represent is usually a good bluffing opportunity.
  6. The size of the pot. Your opponents will be more prone to call if the pot is big because they get better pot odds. On the other hand, if you make a successful bluff in a big pot the reward will also be bigger. This is when good judgment comes into play.
  7. Position. If you are sitting in late position, you will usually have more access to information regarding your opponents' hands and will thus be in a better situation to bluff. For example, if it is checked to you, the board looks favorable and there are few players in the pot.

Outs for Specific Draws

Double wraparound straight draw 20 outs
Wraparound straight draw 17 outs
Straight flush draw 15 outs
Flush draw and over-pair 11 outs
Flush draw 9 outs
Open-ended straight draw 8 outs
Three pair hitting a house 6 outs
Two pair hitting a house 4 outs


This guide serves as a booster pack. It's enough information for you to have the knowledge and ability to start playing strong Omaha, and more importantly giving you the ability to learn the specifics and subtleties of the game.

As with any form of poker, there is no better way to learn than through experience. If you want to be solid in the game, it's up to you to get out there and start playing.

More strategy articles from Sean Lind:

View Best Rooms to Play: Omaha Poker

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Brian 2008-07-17 02:00:00

this article rocks!

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