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Omaha poker: Learn the Omaha poker rules & how to play

Omaha is a popular poker variant that is second in popularity only to Texas Hold'em. Usually played with a pot-limit betting structure, Omaha shares many characteristics of Hold'em, but there are also some vast differences. Pot-Limit Omaha, or PLO, is one of the most exciting poker games you can enjoy at PartyPoker. By the end of this article, you will know all about pot-limit Omaha betting rules, some basic strategies, and more.

What Is Omaha poker?

Omaha poker's full title is Omaha Hold'em, but nobody ever calls it that these days. It is a community card game strikingly similar to Texas Hold'em, except players receive four-hole cards in Omaha compared to two in Hold'em. Furthermore, Omaha players must use precisely two of their four hole cards plus three of the five community cards to make the best five-card poker hand, unlike Hold'em, where playing the board is possible.

The exact origins of Omaha are hazy, but it is widely accepted that Robert Turner introduced the game to Bill Boyd in 1982, and the Las Vegas Golden Nugget was the first casino to spread the game.

Omaha is usually played to a pot-limit betting structure; hence the most popular variant is Pot-Limit Omaha or PLO. Some Omaha games, typically in live cash games in Las Vegas, use fixed-limit betting.

What are the hand rankings in Pot-Limit Omaha?

You will be pleased to know that Pot-Limit Omaha's hand rankings mirror those of Hold'em, which means there is one less thing you need to learn if you want to play PLO! High card is the weakest possible holding, a hand with no pair or better, with the rare royal flush being the strongest possible hand.

Due to the extra hole cards compared to Hold'em, Omaha players frequently make stronger hands, meaning three-of-a-kind, straights, flushes, and full houses are more common; more on that later because it affects your PLO strategy.

What is a Pot-Limit Betting Structure?

There was a time when most poker variants used a fixed betting system where the game's rules limited the amount you could bet at any time. Pot-Limit betting became popular with Hold'em players before Hold'em progressed to a No-Limit format that remains popular today.

Pot-Limit is the most common form of Omaha poker. The pot-limit name means the maximum bet size is determined by the size of the pot when it is your turn to act. You can bet less if you wish, but there are limits to the maximum bet size.

For example, if you are the first player to act on any postflop street, betting the pot is betting the amount already in the pot. If there is $10 in the pot, $10 is the most you can bet. Things become a little more complicated if there are other bets to consider.

Imagine there is $10 in the pot, and you bet the $10 maximum; what is the maximum the next player can raise? In this situation, they must take the size of the pot before any bet ($10) plus your bet ($10), plus the amount it would take to call your bet ($10). Add these together, and it comes to $30. Your opponent can bet $40, which is the $10 to call your bet, plus the $30 maximum raise. Do not worry about doing these calculations on the fly because the PartyPoker software takes care of it; click the "pot" button to bet or raise the maximum permitted amount.

What are the main differences between PLO and Hold'em?

The number of hole cards players receive is the biggest difference between Omaha and Hold'em poker. You receive four hole cards in standard Omaha games but only two in Hold'em. Although the game runs the same way as Hold'em, in that there is preflop, the flop, turn, and river, and the hand rankings are identical, the way you make the best hand differs.

You must use exactly two of your hole cards in Omaha games and exactly three from the community cards to make the best five-card poker hand. For example, if your PLO hole cards read Ah-As-Kd-Qc and the community cards read Jh-Th-9h-5h-3c, you would not have a heart flush but a queen-high straight. Again, like the bet pot option in the PartyPoker software, you can opt to have your hand strength displayed at the tables via the settings in the PartyPoker client, so you do not become confused.

Another significant difference is in the equities of certain hands. Hold'em players know that a pair of aces beats a pair of kings around 82% of the time when the chips go into the middle preflop. However, depending on the two other hole cards in each hand, a pair of aces versus kings in Omaha is rarely more than a 55% favourite.

The closeness of equity between holdings makes PLO a drawing game and a game of drawing to the nuts. Furthermore, compared to Hold 'em, you generally need a stronger hand at showdown to win the pot in Omaha games. Two pair is often a powerhouse hand in Hold'em, but it is quite vulnerable when you play Omaha.

What are the other types of Omaha games?

PartyPoker currently offers two Omaha variants: Pot-Limit Omaha and Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo. The latter is often called O8 in limit games and PLO8 when using a pot-limit betting structure. The eight comes from the game's full title of Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo Split 8 or Better. In PLO8, players can win by holding the best five-card poker hand. It is also possible to win with the worse hand. The worse hand cannot have a card higher than an eight and must not have a pair. Straights and flushes are allowed when making the "low."

In Omaha Hi-Lo, aces can be high or low when you make your hand, so the best possible low hand is 5-4-3-2-A, also known as a wheel. When looking if you have a low hand, mentally put your cards in descending numerical order. 5-4-3-2-A (1) is a better low hand than 6-5-4-3-A.

Some online poker operators and live poker venues offer five-card PLO and sometimes six-card Omaha. These are often nicknamed "Big O" and play the same way as regular PLO, except players receive five and six hole cards, respectively.

Courchevel is a variant of five-card Omaha, although it is pretty rare to see casinos offering this game. The game plays to the same rules of five-card Omaha, but the first flop card is revealed before the preflop betting round.

Can I play Omaha poker at PartyPoker? Does PartyPoker offer PLO?

Yes! You can play PLO and PLO8 cash games online at PartyPoker. Regular blinds start as low as $0.01/$0.02 and increase to $50/$100, while PLO8 is offered with blinds of $0.05/$0.10 to $5/$10. PLO is also available in our fastforward cash games.

Although there are no Omaha sit & go (SNG) tournaments at PartyPoker, we have a massive selection of PLO and PLO8 multi-table tournaments, costing from $0.11 to $530, and sometimes higher during our poker festivals and series.

What are the best PLO tips for beginners?

PLO is a fantastic game that everyone should try at least once. If you are new to PLO, you should avoid the following while you get to grips with the game's nuances.

There are 270,725 possible starting hands in PLO, many of which look pretty and playable. However, starting hand selection in PLO is arguably more critical than in Hold'em because of how close equities run and the fact it is difficult to force opponents to fold in PLO because they so often have a good draw.

High cards that are connected are the best starting hands. As-Ac-Ks-Kc is huge in PLO because you not only have a pair of aces preflop, you can improve to three-of-a-kind with your pair of aces or kings, could draw to the nut straight, and could draw to the nut spade or nut club flush.

A hand such as Qs-Jc-Tc-9s is also quite strong because it will often flop a strong straight draw or two pair combination.

Playing small pairs is often a mistake in PLO because they either miss the flop, leaving you with a weak pair, or make second-best sets. In addition, non-nut flushes should rarely be chased because you can all but guarantee someone is drawing to the nuts. The same can be said for small rundown hands such as 65-5h-4s-3h, where you rarely improve to the nuts.

Your position in PLO carries more weight than in Hold'em, so avoid limping in from early position or calling three-bets when out of position because you will quickly see your stack disappear.

Now that you are familiar with the rules of Omaha and have some great starting tips, find out how an actual game is played out below!

How is a game of Omaha played out?

A game of Omaha is split into four rounds of betting, and the betting proceeds clockwise around the table. Betting starts from the left position next to the dealer button, which moves one place to the left after each hand. In online poker games, the dealer button replaces the 'live' dealer.

If two or more players hold equally-strong winning five-card hands, the pot will be divided between the two tying players. If there is an odd chip, the player sitting closest to the left of the dealer button will receive this . At partypoker the value of the odd chip is 1 cent.

The Blinds

Prior to the beginning of a game of Pot Limit Omaha, the two players to the left of the dealer post 'blind' bets. These are so-called because they are made before the players see any community cards. The blinds are there to make sure that there is money in the pot at the beginning of the game. The player to the left of the dealer posts the 'small blind' then the player to his left posts the 'big blind'.


Four cards are dealt to each player that only they can see. These are called 'hole' cards. Next, the first round of betting is started by the player to the left of the big blind. This player, who is known as 'under the gun', can do one of the following:



Equal the amount bet in the big blind,



increase the bet, or



Give up his cards and stake in the game.


When the betting returns to the player who made the initial full bet (the big blind) that player can 'check' or opt to stay in the game without adding anything to the pot. However, if an opponent has raised, the big blind player has three options: to call, re-raise or fold

The Flop

Three 'community' cards, which all players can use to make their five-card hand, are dealt face up on the table. A second round of betting follows.

The Turn

A fourth community card is dealt face up on the table. The third round of betting follows.

The River

The fifth and final community card is dealt, followed by the final round of betting.

The Showdown

At the final phase of a game of PLO poker, if there is more than one player left in the game, there is a showdown. Here, the players reveal their cards and the highest hand is declared winner. If two players share an equally strong hand, the pot is divided between the two.