How To Play Omaha Poker

Omaha is rapidly gaining momentum and becoming one of the most beloved poker varieties in the poker community. Omaha is renowned for its dynamic gameplay and offers a fresh yet accessible challenge, making it particularly appealing to those just starting out on their poker journey. Unlike Texas Hold’em, which is often overhyped, Omaha offers a unique twist, giving both novice and experienced players new opportunities to hone their skills.

A key factor in Omaha’s appeal is its popular varieties: Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) and Omaha Hi-Lo (also known as Omaha High Low or Omaha 8-or-Better). Pot Limit Omaha, with its pot-limit betting structure, encourages a wide range of strategic play without the intimidating unlimited bet sizes found in other varieties of poker. Omaha high-low, on the other hand, brings an extra level of complexity as the pot is split between the highest and lowest hands, offering multiple paths to victory in a single hand.

What Is PLO in Poker


Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) is a dynamic and exciting variation of Omaha poker characterized by a pot-limit betting structure. This means that the maximum bet a player can place at any given time is equal to the size of the pot. PLO has a lot in common with classic Omaha in terms of rules and gameplay, but the main difference lies in the special betting limits.

The name “Omaha” for this type of poker is somewhat shrouded in mystery, and there are several theories of its origin. One theory is that the game was first played in Omaha, Nebraska, and from there it spread to other parts of the United States in the early 1980s. Another theory suggests that the name was simply borrowed from an earlier version of the omaha pokergame known as Omaha Hold’em to distinguish it from the more famous Texas what is plo in pokerHold’em. Regardless of the origin, the name “Omaha” has come to denote a game characterized by complexity and excitement, appealing to players seeking a more complex and nuanced poker experience than Texas Hold’em.

Omaha poker, like PLO, differs in that players are dealt four hole cards rather than two. However, to make the best five-card hand, players must use exactly two of their hole cards, as well as exactly three of their five community cards. This rule greatly increases the potential hand combinations and strategic depth of the game, making it a favorite among players looking for a challenging yet rewarding poker variant.

How Does Omaha Poker Work

Omaha poker, characterized by its strategy and expertise, is a peculiar variation of the traditional game of poker. Central to its appeal is the unique rule that players are dealt four hole cards and must use exactly two of them in combination with three of the five community cards to make up their best five-card hand. This fundamental difference from other varieties of poker enriches the game by expanding the range of possible hands.

Gameplay in Omaha unfolds in several stages, commonly referred to as “streets”. They include the initial deal, then a series of community card reveals and betting rounds. The essence of these stages is to gradually reveal the potential strength of each player’s hand, leading up to the final showdown. Going through these stages complicates the game, as players have to constantly adapt their strategies depending on new information and the actions of their opponents.

Betting in Omaha poker, especially in the popular pot-limit format, involves a variety of actions, including mandatory blinds, calls, raises, folds, and check-raises. These betting actions are the tools players use to navigate the game, from maintaining position in a hand to increasing the pot or exiting the game when the odds are unfavorable. These betting actions, given the dynamics of the game and the psychology of the players, are critical to success. They allow players to influence the hand by applying pressure with aggressive bets, assessing the strength of their opponents’ hands, or protecting the potential of their own hand.

What are the Streets in Texas Hold’em

In Omaha poker, as in many other poker games, the concept of “streets” refers to the various stages of the game where common cards are dealt and bets are made. Each street serves a specific purpose, giving players the opportunity to shape their strategies depending on the cards revealed and the actions of their opponents. Streets are crucial to each hand, providing a structured sequence of actions that lead to the final outcome of the hand.


The first turning point after the initial round of betting comes on the flop. Once preflop betting is complete, the dealer reveals the flop – the first three community cards laid face up on the table. The flop is an important turning point in the game, as it provides the first glimpse of how the players’ hands might play out. Now that players have five cards at their disposal (two hole cards and three on the table), they get a clearer idea of the strength of their potential hands. Betting on the flop allows players to begin to determine their positions, either by showing strength, attempting to bluff, or deciding to fold if the flop does not improve their hand.


After the flop and another round of betting, the game moves to the turn, also known as “fourth street”. The dealer places one community card face up next to the flop. This fourth card can dramatically change the course of the game, as it completes the set of six cards from which players will choose their best five-card hand. The turn of the card is often a critical decision point: the stakes are higher and the pot has likely grown. Players must carefully weigh the chances of improving their hand on the river against the potential cost of staying in the hand. Betting on the turn is a delicate balance of aggression and caution, with players either strengthening their position in the pot or folding to minimize losses.


The last street is the river, where the fifth and final community card is revealed. When all seven cards (four community cards and three hole cards) are known to each player, the river is the last chance to bet and affect the size of the pot. It is the moment of truth when final strategies unfold, bluff calls are made and the fate of the players is decided. The river can turn fate in an instant, making or breaking hands. Betting on the river requires a keen sense of one’s relative strength, as there are no more opportunities to improve the hand. Players must decide whether to make a final push to win the pot, bluff in an attempt to force a fold, or check and hope for the best on the showdown.

Move Variations in Omaha Poker

In the game of Omaha poker, players are presented with several choices as they progress through the various streets, from the flop to the river. Each decision a player makes is crucial, affecting both the immediate course of the game and its ultimate outcome. The moves available to the player include call, fold, check, and raise, each with its own strategic implications and appropriate contexts for use.


To call in poker means to respond to the highest bet on the table. A player decides to call when he wants to continue playing without raising. Calling often indicates that a player has a potentially strong hand, but chooses to remain cautious, waiting to see how the hand develops or how other players act. It is a move that keeps the option open, but does the minimum necessary to stay in contention for the pot.


A Fold is the action of refusing to participate in the draw altogether. A player decides to Fold when he believes that his hand is too weak to compete with other players’ hands, or when the cost of continuing is not justified by the potential profit. A Fold is a decision to cut your losses and save your chips for more profitable opportunities in future hands. You need to understand when the odds are against you and act accordingly to minimize the damage to your stack.


A check is an opportunity to pass the action to the next player without betting, but this is only possible if no action has been taken in the current betting round. If all players check, the hand moves to the next street with no additional chips in the pot. Checking is often used when a player wants to see more cards or to act cautiously with a hand that may not be strong enough to bet, but is too good to fold immediately.


A raise involves increasing the size of an existing bet, forcing other players to contribute more chips to the pot if they wish to continue playing. Raising can have several purposes: it can signal a strong hand aimed at increasing the pot; it can be a bluff designed to force opponents to fold; or it can be a tactical play, such as protecting a vulnerable but promising hand by reducing the field. A Raise is a move that changes the dynamics of the game by applying pressure and forcing your opponents to match you in confidence in your hand.

What Types of Omaha Poker are There

Omaha poker, characterized by its complexity and exciting gameplay, offers players a variety of formats to suit different preferences and styles. There are three main types: Pot Limit Omaha, No Limit Omaha and Fixed Limit Omaha Poker. Each variant adheres to the fundamental rules of Omaha, but introduces unique betting structures that significantly affect the strategy and dynamics of the game.

Pot Limit Omaha (PLO)

Pot Limit Omaha is the most popular and widespread variation of Omaha poker. The defining characteristic of PLO is the pot-limit betting structure, meaning that the maximum bet a player can make at any one time is equal to the current pot size. PLO favors a more calculated and strategic approach, as the pot-limit restriction prevents players from betting too much to knock their opponents out of their hands. This favors more hands hitting the flop, and often leads to eventful thorns and river.

No Limit Omaha Poker

Unlimited Omaha Poker, although less common than PLO, offers an unlimited betting structure where players can bet any number of their chips at any point in the game, up to all of their remaining chips. This variant involves a higher degree of risk and aggression, as the potential for large, game-changing bets exists at every turn. The lack of betting limits means that a single hand can dramatically change the course of the game, making No Limit Omaha an exciting high stakes game. Players must be able to manage their bankroll and understand their opponents, as the freedom to bet whatever they want brings a significant psychological element to the game.

Fixed Limit Omaha Poker

Fixed Limit Omaha Poker is a stark contrast to its pot-limit and no-limit counterparts, as it limits bets to predetermined, fixed amounts. In this format, the betting limits for each round of play are set in advance, and players can only bet and raise within these fixed limits. This structure moderates the pace of play, reducing the likelihood of sudden and violent fluctuations in the chips in players’ stacks. It emphasizes a more methodical approach to hand selection and betting, encouraging patience. Fixed Limit Omaha is an excellent choice for players who prefer a more controlled and stable game where the risk of losing their entire stack in a single hand is minimized.

Omaha Hai Lo

Omaha Hi-Lo, also known as Omaha 8 or Better, is a variation of Omaha poker that brings a unique twist to the traditional game. The main feature that distinguishes Omaha Hi-Lo is the split-pot format, where the pot is split between the highest and lowest qualifying hands. This double pot element adds an extra layer of strategy, as players must navigate not only the complexities of forming the strongest hand, but also strategies for winning the bottom half of the pot.

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Unlike standard Omaha, where the entire pot goes to the player with the highest hand, Omaha high-low encourages players who can play both high and low. For a hand to be considered low, it must consist of five unpaired cards that have a rank of 8 or lower. One player can take the entire pot with both the strongest high hand and the best qualified low hand, which gives the game an intriguing strategic depth.

The strategy of playing Omaha high-low is multifaceted. Players should evaluate their starting hands in terms of flexibility, aiming for hands that have the potential to win either half the pot or, ideally, both halves. This dual goal influences decision-making throughout the game, from starting hand selection to final betting rounds. Having a low pot encourages more players to stay in the hand in an effort to win at least part of the pot, which can lead to a larger pot and more intense showdowns.

The split pot format in Omaha Hi-Lo requires an understanding of the value of hands and the ability to recognize potential high and low hands of opponents. It requires a balanced approach to betting and hand development, as players juggle the competing goals of maximizing their share of the high pot while simultaneously claiming the low pot. This variant appeals to players who enjoy the challenge and difficulty of simultaneously executing two different winning strategies, offering a dynamic and multi-faceted poker experience different from traditional Omaha.

Omaha Hand Rankings

In Omaha poker, as in other forms of poker, the presence of certain combinations of cards plays a crucial role in determining the winner of a hand. Combinations in poker are necessary to create a structured hierarchy of hands, which allows players to compare the strength of their hands and make decisions about betting, bluffing or discarding. Awareness of the combinations and their rankings provides players with a strategic advantage, allowing them to more accurately assess their chances of winning and adapt their play accordingly.

Omaha Poker uses the same combinations as most other poker variants, starting with the strongest:

  • Royal Flush: The strongest combination consisting of consecutive cards of the same suit from a ten to an ace. Example: A♥ K♥ Q♥ J♥ 10♥.
  • Straight Flush: Five consecutive cards of the same suit. Example: 9♣ 8♣ 7♣ 6♣ 5♣.
  • Kare (Four of a Kind): Four cards of the same rank. Example: 6♠ 6♥ 6♦ 6♣ 2♠.
  • Full House: Three cards of one rank and two of another. Example: J♦ J♠ J♣ 4♦ 4♠.
  • Flush: Five cards of the same suit, not necessarily in a row. Example: K♠ 10♠ 7♠ 6♠ 2♠.
  • Straight: Five consecutive cards of different suits. Example: 8♦ 7♠ 6♥ 5♣ 4♠.
  • Set (Three of a Kind): Three cards of the same rank. Example: 3♣ 3♠ 3♦ K♠ 6♥.
  • Two Pair: Two cards of one rank and two cards of another rank. Example: Q♣ Q♠ 7♥ 7♦ 4♠.
  • Pair: Two cards of the same rank. Example: A♦ A♣ 8♠ 6♥ 3♦.
  • High Card: If neither player has the above combinations, the winner is determined by the high card. Example: A♦ K♣ Q♠ J♥ 2♦.

The Difference Between Omaha and Texas Hold’em

One of the most significant differences between Texas Hold’em and Omaha is the number of hole cards dealt to each player. In Texas Hold’em, players are dealt two hole cards, which form the basis of their final hand, combined with five community cards dealt during the game. In Omaha, however, the stakes are raised: four hole cards are dealt to each player, greatly expanding potential hand combinations and strategic depth. The increase in the number of hole cards creates the most important rule of Omaha: players must use exactly two of their hole cards and three community cards to make up their hand, and this condition creates an additional level of complexity.


In Texas Hold’em, the relative simplicity of having two hole cards allows players to employ a wide range of strategies, from tight and conservative to loose and aggressive. The structure of the game favors a balanced mix of skill, psychological manipulation, and calculated risk. Omaha, by contrast, with its requirement to use two hole cards and three community cards, requires a more nuanced understanding of hand strength, potential draws, and the chances of winning combinations. This complexity tends to favor players with a good grasp of probabilities and the ability to anticipate and counter their opponents’ strategies over the long term.

In addition, the variance in Omaha tends to be higher than in Texas Hold’em due to the greater number of starting hand combinations. This increased variance can lead to large swings in a player’s chip stack, making bankroll management and emotional control even more important in Omaha. In addition, the pot-limit betting structure commonly found in Omaha limits the size of bets relative to the size of the pot, as opposed to the no-limit structure favored by many Texas Hold’em games where players can bet all of their chips at any time. This difference in betting structure determines the approach to each game, with Omaha encouraging more calculated bets on pot size, and Texas Hold’em often encouraging bold all-in moves when the circumstances are right.

In essence, while Texas Hold’em and Omaha share the common goal of accumulating winning poker hands, their different rules and requirements are designed for different player skills and temperaments. Texas Hold’em, with its simplistic play, serves as a gateway to the world of poker for many, offering a combination of strategy, psychology and luck that has won over millions. Omaha, with its increased complexity and other features, offers a deeper, more complex challenge, appealing to those who appreciate the analytical aspects of poker and the rich variety of gameplay.

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Written by Alisa Kotsar
Over the past 7 years, Lean has diligently tracked the progress and transformations in the gambling industry. His distinctive writing style has contributed to the dissemination of important news and updates from the gambling world and clarified important trends in the industry.