Introduction to How To Play Omaha Poker

Omaha is a community card poker game in the same vein as Texas Hold’em. Each player is dealt four hole cards and over the course of the hand up to five cards end up as community cards. A player must make the best five-card hand possible using two cards from their hand, plus three of the five community cards.

This is not a new poker game – it has been a fixture at the World Series of Poker for many years and is very common in online poker rooms. This page gives you a basic outline on how to play Omaha poker.

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Variations of Omaha Poker Games

how to play omaha poker

  • Pot Limit Omaha Poker – A player can bet whatever is in the pot (i.e. $50 bet into a $50 pot). This is the most common form of Omaha Poker online.
  • No Limit Omaha Poker – A player can bet all of their chips if they desire.
  • Fixed Limit Omaha Poker – There is a betting limit applied in each game and on each round of betting.
  • Omaha Hi Lo – Players can make both high and low hands, and the pot is split between those two hands.

How to Play Omaha Poker

You’ll see that the betting rounds work in the same way as Texas Hold’em. This makes starting out at Omaha poker rules much easier than other poker games. Here is a quick run-through of a hand from start to finish.

Before any cards are dealt, two players place blinds. The big blind is equal to a small bet, with the small blind half of that amount. In a $1 / $2 Omaha game, the blinds are 50c and $1 (not $1 and $2 as they would be in Texas Hold’em). Blinds are posted by the two players to the left of the button, which moves around the table clockwise after each hand.

Next, all players are dealt four cards face down, called hole cards. Betting action starts with the player to the left of the big blind. This is known as the ‘Under the Gun’ position. This player can call (match the big blind), raise one additional small bet, or elect to fold.

The action then moves around the table. To stay in the hand, each player must match the current raise (or call if there has not been one). If the pot is not raised by the time the big blind gets to act, this player can check or raise. There is a maximum of four raises on any betting round.

Strong Pot-Limit Omaha starting hands

  • A-A-K-K or A-A-J-10 Double Suited to the aces. These are considered the best starting hands possible, and should always be played aggressively. It is the multiple ways to make the nuts which makes these hands stand out – as well as their high card strength.
  • A-K-J-Q (or similar suited Broadways). Once again, you have a shot at the nut straight, and preferably two flushes. Against opponents prone to overplaying smaller straights, these hands can be excellent – they also remove key cards from the deck, making it harder for opponents to have aces or kings.
  • K-K-8-8 or Q-Q-9-10: These are examples of high pair hands with either an additional pair or some coordinated side cards. These can make nut hands, though keep in mind that it is hard to win a big pot with an unimproved over-pair in Omaha.
  • 6-7-8-9 or 7-8-9-10: Known as rundown hands, you can make a lot of different straights. For example, on a board of 4-5-8, any 3, 6 or 7 gives you the nuts with 5-6-7-8. Suited combinations are valuable as a backup with this type of hand.

The Flop

The first three community cards are then dealt face up in the middle of the table. This is an important moment in a hand, as the number (and rank) of low cards will give us an idea of whether the pot will be split at showdown – or go to the highest hand only.

Betting then starts again. This time the player to the left of the dealer button starts the action. Betting is again in fixed units, and four raises are possible. If there has not been a bet, players can ‘check,’ passing the option to check or bet to the next player.

The first three community cards are then dealt face up in the middle of the table. This is an important moment in a hand, as the number (and rank) of low cards will give us an idea of whether the pot will be split at showdown – or go to the highest hand only.
RE: The Omaha Flop

Turn and River Betting Rounds

Once betting is completed, an additional community card (the turn) is then dealt. Betting starts again, with the unit doubled. Again, players can elect to check, and there is a maximum of four raises possible per betting round.

River betting follows the same pattern. If there have been bets and raises on all rounds, the pot can get large by this point in the hand.

Showdown rules in Omaha Poker

At showdown, the first question is whether there is a qualifying low hand? This is any five cards, 8 or lower, which uses two cards from a player’s hand, and three from the community cards. If there are not three low cards on the board, then the entire pot goes to the player with the highest-ranked poker hand.

If there is more than one low, then the winner has the lowest-ranked cards. The nuts are A-2-3-4-5. This is known as a ‘wheel.’ For example, A-2-3-4-8 would lose to 2-4-5-6-7 in Omaha Hi-Lo, as the 7 had the lower-ranked top card.

The two parts of the pot are assessed separately. Both use the 2 from your hand / 3 from the board rule. You can make a high hand using your Ace, as well as the low, for example.

Having explained the basic rules, below you will find some strategic considerations for pre-flop, and later betting rounds.

Omaha Poker Before the Flop

Many players who are new to Omaha poker make the mistake of playing too many hands. According to Omaha poker rules, the very best starting hands have the potential to win both sides of the pot. Advice for players starting out is to play only hands containing aces until you get a good understanding of the strategy.

how to play omaha poker

Premium Hands

If you have a pair of aces with low side cards like A-A-2-3, you have a very strong starting hand. If there are two suits (and so the ability to make two different flushes at showdown), this is as good a starting hand as you will find. Aces with one lower card and one higher one can also win big pots. Suits make a big difference; you don’t want to be drawing to a non-nut hand.

Low Card Hands

A-2-3-4 is also a strong starting hand (again, suited cards with the ace matter). These have the potential to make lows which can stand a bad turn or river which counterfeits your existing low. 2-3-4-5 can be played for a raise, though with many opponents playing hands with aces, it is more difficult to win both sides of the pot.

High Only Hands

Premiums include A-A-K-K and A-A-J-10 – as well as ‘rundown’ hands like 9-10-J-Q. If there are no low cards on the flop, you can play these hands strongly. They are useful in spots where two opponents have the nut low, and you can get half of the pot while they get a quarter each.

You will not always be lucky enough to get premiums. Hands in all forms of Omaha work best when they work together. Suited cards can make flushes, and connected cards can make straights. Avoid hands with middle-ranked cards. 4-6-8-10 (for example) is completely unplayable.

Poker Glossary

Poker Term Definition
Chips the tokens on the table that represent a certain value or dollar amount
Check when no wager is made and the action is on the next player to the left
Call when you match the highest bet currently on the table
Raise  when somebody to your right wagers a certain amount and you increase that amount by a certain amount
Bluff when you pretend to have really good cards, but don’t
Slow Play (a Hand) when you believe you have really good cards and try to lure the other poker players in to fattening up the pot
All-In when you push all your chips into the center of the table in hopes of either winning the pot or busting out
Pot Limit players at the table can make a bet up to the total value of the current dollar amount in the pot
No Limit players can wager up to all of their remaining chips
Fixed Limit before the game starts, players’ agree to fixed max bets per betting round
Blinds the small blind is the player positioned directly to the left of the dealer and must wager before receiving cards, while the big blind is the player positioned to the left of the small blind and must bet 2x the small blind before receiving cards.
Under the Gun the player positioned to the left of the big blind and first person to bet after everybody receives their cards
Flop the first three community cards, a round of betting occurs after this
Turn the fourth community card, a round of betting occurs after this
River the fifth and final community card, a round of betting occurs after this
On Tilt emotionally fueled poker betting void of reason or strategy, trying to make up for ones losses

How to Play Omaha Poker FAQs