How to Play Omaha Poker

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Online poker is so much more than just a game, its great fun of course, but it challenges you too, and for some, can even be a source of income. Whenever anyone talks about poker, they are usually speaking about Texas hold’em, the most played variant. But there are other types of poker to choose from that offer a different challenge, and the fastest growing of those is Omaha.

The good news for those that want to learn how to play Omaha poker is that the rules of the game are very similar to those of all other poker games, so you buy-in, bet and eventually the best hand wins the pot. The changes in play are how the cards are dealt, and which cards you have access to.With so many people deciding to play Omaha in online poker rooms, its time to think about joining in, so here is everything you need to know about the official Omaha poker rules.

What is pot-limit Omaha Poker?

A variation of poker, Omaha comes in two flavours, pot limit Omaha, often called PLO, or Omaha hi lo. Hi lo has some additional rules that allow you to win part of the pot by having a low hand, but other than that plays the same as PLO.

In this guide to Omaha poker we’ll look at how to play pot limit Omaha poker, and don’t worry, we’ll cover everything for you, so if you have never played poker before, you can get up and running quickly.

Omaha poker is especially popular due to the fact that player skill is incredibly important, and while it is based on the same five-card poker hand that other games use, a game of Omaha poker gives players a chance to really use their strategies to make a big difference.

While the basic idea of the player with the best hand wins does apply, with Omaha PLO poker, strategy ensures this doesn’t have to be the case, and it is possible to play and win without the best five-card poker hand at all.Our guide on how to play Omaha Poker will help you get started and find the best approach to refine your strategies and win.

How To Play Omaha Poker Games

As with all poker games you may be familiar with, pot-limit Omaha poker rules begin with between two and ten players and one deck of cards. If you have played Texas hold’em, you will understand the basic flow of the game. An Omaha game then progresses in several phases as follows:

The Pre Flop Rules of Omaha Poker

Before the first cards are dealt the game begins with the first round of bets. Here the first two early positions to the left of the dealer, Small and Big Blinds, must place bets, it is optional for all other players.

This is why positioning is so important when you’re playing Omaha poker, as the small and big blind put players at a disadvantage to begin with where they can be picked off unless they play to the position.

Players are dealt four cards each face down, called the hole cards. The next betting round begins immediately, starting with the first player to the left of the Big Blind. Players can opt to call, raise or fold just like other variants of poker. The betting round continues until the big blind is the final bettor,

  • Raise – Increase the bet to stay in the game. In pot-limit Omaha, the maximum you can raise to is the size of the pot
  • Call – Place a bet equal to the current Blind
  • Fold – Leave the hand

The Pot Limit Omaha Poker Flop

If there are still at least 2 players in the game, the dealer places the next 3 cards from the deck face up on the table. This is known as the board.

Players then follow another round of betting as before, again starting to the left of the big blind.

The Turn

Another card is placed face up on the board, followed by another round of betting as long as there are at least two players still in the game.

The River

Again, as long as at least 2 players remain in the game, the final card is placed face up on the board.

Players then complete the final betting round. If there are still at least 2 players involved, then we move on to the final phase, if not the last player standing wins the pot.

The Showdown

If there are still at least 2 players in the hand, we get to the showdown. The players left in must make the best five card poker hand they can from a combination of their hole cards and the five cards on the board. The catch is, they must use at least two of the hole cards in that final hand.Hand rankings are the same as all other poker games, we can remind ourselves of that below if you are new to poker.

Hand Rankings in Omaha Poker

The table below shows poker hand ranking from high to low. Any five card poker hand will beat all those listed below it, and lose to those above it. This is true for all poker variant options, so if you choose to look at others like hold’em poker, you already have the hand rankings sorted.

Poker HandDescription
Royal FlushA straight from 10 to Ace of all the same suit
Straight FlushA straight with cards all of the same suit
Four of a KindFour cards of the same value
Full HouseA pair and three of a kind in the same hand
FlushAny five cards of the same suit
StraightFive cards in sequential order but not of the same suit
Three of a Kind – also called a setThree of a Kind – also called a set
Two PairTwo separate pairs of cards
A PairTwo same value cards

Starting Hands in Omaha Poker

One of the things that sets Omaha poker apart from other variations is those initial four cards, known as the hole cards, dealt to each player. You must use two hole cards in your final five card hand, but that means you have 6 options for your pair, when in Texas hold’em, you have just two pairs to choose from within your 3 cards dealt.

The result is that player hands tend to be higher value in this poker variant than in any other. If you are moving to Omaha from hold’em, this can cause issues at first. In that game, two pair or three of a kind may be good enough to win more often than not, but in Omaha, you will find players have better hands more frequently.That is why the bet and bluff strategy matters so much in this game, and that begins right at the start of the game.

Omaha Poker Tips and Strategy for Playing Pre-Flop and Post-Flop

With 4 hole cards, the options you have in Omaha are significantly more than in other forms of poker. You can only use 2 of them of course, but the chances of having a good pair of hole cards in that hand is high. With that in mind, the key strategy in the pre flop is to bet with your advantage. That is, when you have an edge, a really good choice of cards to work with, then raise and raise to the pot limit, so that when that edge plays out, you maximise the pot you win.

This approach can lead to higher variance, as you also lose more when it doesn’t go to plan, but overall it will give you bigger wins over time.

Some poker variants have hands that are good to play, and others that are not, and you quickly learn which are which. But Omaha is different, and here it is all about what you have to work with. Flexibility is key, cards that can be used to create more than one final hand are the ones to back, as this gives you the best chance at winning in a showdown.

Post flop, it is easy to get caught up in what the flop does for your poker hand, but in an Omaha limit game, you must also look at the flop in terms of how it might have helped your opponents. Look at the possible hands that could be created with the board cards, to get an idea of what you might be facing in a showdown and think about how likely it is the best poker hand is on the table somewhere. In short, you must play the board, not just your hand.Also think about your position, if the player to your immediate right raises big, it can leave you vulnerable to players on your left as the betting round progresses, so caution is the best approach. Because of the likelihood of high ranking hands on the table, make sure you only push hard with strong hands.

Omaha Strategy for Bluffing and Reading Opponents 

Bluffing is a major part of any poker strategy no matter which variant you are playing. In Omaha, the combination of four hole cards to choose from and five board cards mean a much higher average ranking for player hands, which in turn means bigger pots. The temptation to bluff to try and steal those huge wins is higher than in any other type of poker, but get it wrong and it can lead to trouble.

Remember, the entire structure of Omaha means that players are more likely to have good hands, so if you don’t, the probability of losing in a showdown is much greater. The fact that players will have good hands more often also means it is more challenging to bluff them into folding too.

But bluffing can still be beneficial in Omaha poker, and it all hinges on the board cards. A paired board, where there are two pairs in the five cards, gives a high probability of someone having a full house, and that can be a good place to bluff. Another is a potential flush, with 3 of the same suit on the board. Here you can play on Omaha players doubts as to whether their flush will match your high card, for instance.

Bankroll Management in Omaha Hi-Lo and PLO

Starting out playing free poker games is sensible, as you get used to this popular poker style, but eventually, you will want to play Omaha hi lo or pot limit Omaha for money. Whether you are just starting out or competing in the world series of poker, bankroll management is essential for success.

Like in other poker games, having a bankroll strategy when you play really helps. For Omaha more than any other variant though, in a limit Omaha game bankroll management is dictated by each individual player and their attitude to risk.For those looking to create an income from Omaha poker, the issue is that variances are much bigger here. That means, the highs are higher, when you win it is usually much bigger pots than other poker games, but the lows are also lower. You can lose a lot more money, faster, than you would in something like Texas hold’em. That means you need to be prepared for those losing runs, and a bankroll of one hundred or even one hundred and fifty buy-ins is more fitting for Omaha poker players.

Common Mistakes With Omaha Poker Rules and How to Avoid Them

The most common mistake for new Omaha pot limit players when they play the game is starting hand selection. This is especially true of those switching from a game like Texas hold’em, where high-ranking hands are relatively rare. In Omaha, it is much more common to have really good hands. What would be a good 5-card poker hand in other games may be just a mediocre one here, and betting on a mediocre option, or forgetting that you can only use two of those four cards, can lead to significant loss.

Another is the idea that small pairs are a good basis for an opening hand. Again, the prevalence of ranking hands in Omaha means that low pairs will rarely be flopped into winning hands, and will lead to a losing play.Aside from choosing the wrong hands to be aggressive with, the other area where Omaha players get things wrong is position. It matters more here than in most poker games, and playing out of position is a sure way to weaken yourself during a game and become a target.

Advanced Omaha Poker Concepts

One of the things that make all poker variants so attractive to players is that there is infinite depth to strategy and approach. Omaha pot limit is no different, but understanding the more advanced concepts is key to unlocking those winning strategies. When you play online poker games, it is not always true that the best poker hand wins. Once you know how to play Omaha poker at home or in a live game, that is the start of your journey to become the best Omaha poker player you can be.

Here, things like the stack to pot ratio, the specific effect on betting probabilities that position influences and pre-flop betting strategies can all make an impact. There are a number of courses and books that walk you through these ideas in detail.

Understanding these more advanced ideas helps when playing any kind of poker, and both Texas hold’em and Omaha players will see benefits from this approach. The best possible five-card poker hand is not the only key to winning when it comes to Omaha, with games on the top online poker sites being very strategic. Mastering the advanced ideas of betting, table position and so on is the difference between new Omaha players and the best PLO poker players you encounter.

FAQ

Do Omaha and Texas Hold’em play the same?

No. While the basic rules of hand rankings are the same, Omaha uses a combination of four preflop cards, and a five card community hand, with players having to choose two from their own hand and three from the community board to make the best five card poker hand possible.

How is Omaha hi lo or PLO Poker played?

Pot limit Omaha and Omaha hi lo are played in live games and through online poker tables. The basic PLO rules mean that they play similarly to hold’em and other major poker variants, but Omaha might be the most strategic of them all. Poker games on the top online sites can offer huge pots for players to win.

What are the starting hands to play in Omaha?

Because you must use two of the opening hand cards, a selection that is flexible and can create multiple types of hand are preferable. That means high pairs or multiple cards of the same suit.

What is the best strategy for playing Omaha Poker?

Omaha poker might be the most strategic of all the poker games, and being flexible, and thinking about community cards not just in how they can help you, but also in the kind of hands they can help your opponents create.

Can I play Omaha Poker online for real money?

Yes, in fact, Omaha pot limit is popular in online poker because it often leads to high value pots and bigger stakes.

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