Omaha Poker, mostly played in the Pot Limit variant, is a poker game in which four face-down cards are dealt to each player, and hands are formed by using two of those cards, in combination with three out of five community cards.
The game’s invention is credited to WSOP bracelet winner Robert Turner, who incorporated it in the Las Vegas Golden Nugget Casino tables in 1982. Since then, Omaha has seen steady growth in popularity, becoming the game of choice for many poker pros and beginners alike.
In this guide, we go through everything you need to start playing the great game of PLO:
Omaha poker games can be found on most casinos and online poker sites. It’s been steadily growing in popularity, both in the live scene and online.
1. Basic Poker Rules
The purpose of poker is to win money from bets that others are making on the table.
You can do this mainly by having the highest-ranking hand, but also by bluffing, which means placing a bet that represents a stronger hand thank what you have and makes your opponents fold their cards, surrendering the pot.
Poker Hand Rankings
Hand rankings are the same across all poker games and represent the strength of a made hand. They are at the center of PLO poker strategy.
The more difficult the odds to get a specific combination, the higher it will rank. As we’ll see below, in PLO you must use 2 hands from your 4 holecards and 3 from the community board.
1. Royal flush
A straight and flush hand from the Ten to the Ace.
2. Straight flush
Suited connected hands other than a royal flush.
3. Four of a kind
Four cards of the same value.
4. Full house
Three of a kind together with a pair.
Suited cards that don’t make a straight.
Five connected cards that don’t make a flush.
7. Three of a kindThree cards of the same value.
8. Two pairsTwo pairs of cards of the same value.
9. PairTwo cards of the same value.
10. High cardNo pair. The value of your highest card.
If there are competing hands on the same rank, the one that has the highest value combination will win. If values are equal, the pot is split evenly.
There are three main betting structures in poker. The structure refers to the maximum amount you can bet or raise at any point in the hand.
- Fixed-Limit – where the betting amount is predefined and doubles on the turn and river.
- Pot-Limit – where the maximum bet or raise is the size of the pot (including your call).
- No-Limit – where you can bet all the chips you have, regardless of the size of the pot.
There are five actions you can take on your turn in poker.
- Checking – when there are no bets to call, you can pass the action to the next player.
- Betting – when you invest chips and others have to match them or call all-in to continue.
- Folding – when there are bets in place, and you don’t want to continue playing the hand.
- Calling – when you continue in the hand by matching a bet or raise others have made.
- Raising – when there is a bet, and you not only call but add even more chips to the pot.
2. How to Play Pot-Limit Omaha Poker
PLO poker is played simarly to Texas Hold ‘Em. The difference is that you get dealt two extra cards (or more in 5-card and 6-card variations), and that you must to use two cards from your hand to make your hand ranking at showdown.
Omaha betting structures can be either fixed-limit, pot-limit, or no-limit. The most popular variant is Pot Limit Omaha, which will be used to illustrate the rules.
A street in poker refers to the stage of a hand within a complete round of actions. Each street starts when cards are dealt. Preflop is the first street, and starts when four face-down holecards are dealt to the players.
Flop, turn and river streets start when face-up community cards are dealt in the middle of the table.
Every street ends with a betting round, so there are four streets and four betting rounds in a full hand of Pot Limit Omaha. Like in all poker games, betting rounds are skipped if all players are already all-in.
Position refers to your turn to act. The action always moves clockwise, in betting rounds or when moving the blinds on position between each hand. The big blind is always the minimum betting amount, and the small blind is half that same amount.
Some casinos and online poker sites allow for single or multiple straddles and ante tables, where more blind bets are put into the game preflop.
In standard games, there is only one small and one big blind, and first person to act before the flop is the early position player. After the flop is dealt, the action starts from the small blind position.
When you act later, you get more information from your opponents’ actions. You will be able to use the advantages or have the disadvantages of each different position for all the consecutive streets of a hand.
After the river betting round is the showdown, where players show their cards, and the winner of the hand is established by hand rankings. Again, you must use 2 out of your 4 holecards and 3 from the board to make your hand. Never forget that.
Hands are shown by the river bettor or raiser first, or if no bets were made, in position starting from the small blind. If your hand doesn’t win, you have the option to muck your hand, or in other words, not show your cards to the other players.
In the following video clip, we go through a typical hand example in Pot Limit Omaha.