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How to Play Omaha Poker

how to play Omaha poker table with chips

Omaha Poker Game Overview

Over the past few years, Omaha Poker has become one of the most popular online poker variants. Like most poker games, the basic rules are the same—so if you know how to play Texas Hold’em, for example—you should pick up this game fairly quickly. The object of the game is to make the best five-card hand from the cards available, using any two hole cards and any three community cards.

Players don’t have the discretion to use three or four of their hole cards, or to use more of the community cards—the requirements are not flexible. At the showdown, it is only the hands comprised of two hole and three community cards that can rank, introducing choice of hands, the factor that makes Omaha virtually unbluffable. Omaha is usually played with limits, although a number of different variations of the game exist with their own twists on the rules. Read more about how to play Omaha Poker, find out about the many game variations and learn winning strategies and tips in our handy guide below:

How To Play Omaha Poker

So, you want to learn how to play Omaha Poker, but you don’t really know where to start. Don’t worry, the experts at Odds Shark can help. Grab a stack of chips and let’s get started.

Omaha Poker is played with 2-10 people at a table. Like most other poker games, Omaha Poker includes several rounds of betting and a combination of hole and community cards. When you’re ready to start, the first thing to do is draw the high card for the dealer. Each player is then dealt one card face up. The player with the highest card (an Ace) will start as the game’s dealer. If you’re  stuck in a situation where two players get the same card, they can either re-draw, or use the suit to determine the winner (this is done alphabetically with Clubs being the worst and Spades being the best). The dealer is then given a “dealer button” to keep track of who’s turn it is to deal. At the end of the round, the dealer button is passed to the left and the play continues with a new dealer.

The next step is to put out the blinds and deal the cards. In Omaha Poker, each player receives 9 cards—4 ‘hole’ cards and 5 shared ‘community’ cards. Before the hand can start, two required bets are placed—the small blind and the big blind. The small blind is placed by the player to the left of the dealer and is most often lower than the table stakes. The big blind is placed by the player to the left of the small blind, and is most often equal to the higher end of the table stakes.

Once the blinds are placed, each player is dealt their 4 hole cards and the betting round begins starting with the player left of the big blind. Each player must then choose an action in turn—check, bet, call, raise, fold or all-in. After the first betting round is complete, the second round—or the Flop—is played, followed by the Turn, the River and, finally, the Showdown. The showdown is only necessary if two people remain in the hand after the previous rounds. All players remaining will use exactly 2 hole cards and 3 community cards to create the best possible hand. The player to create the best hand will win the entire pot.

Omaha Poker Rules

Step 1 - Choose a dealer

Each player is dealt a single card. The player with the highest card deals first.

Step 2 - Set the blinds

The small blind is set by the player to the left of the dealer. 

Step 3 - Deal the cards

Each player is dealt 4 hole cards and the betting round begins.

Step 4 - Choose an action (pre-flop)

Each player then chooses an action in turn—check, bet, call, raise, fold or all-in.

Step 5 - The Flop

Three cards are dealt into the centre of the table face up. Play continues with first remaining player to the left of the dealer. Betting continues until all remaining players have placed an equal amount of chips in the pot. If a player no longer wishes to continue, they must fold and wait for the next hand to be dealt.

Step 6 - The Turn

In this round, the 4th community card is dealt face up and play continues as in previous rounds.

Step 7 - The River

In this round, the dealer places the final (5th) community card—known as the “River” card. This is the last opportunity to get chips before the winner is decided in the Showdown.

Step 8 - The Showdown

This round is only necessary if two people remain in the hand at this point. In this round, remaining players must build their best 5-card hand using 2 hole cards and 3 community cards. The best hand will win. If a tie occurs, players will share the pot.

Step 9 - The Next Hand

Once the pot has been awarded, the game continues to the next hand. The dealer button is passed to the left-most player, cards are re-shuffled, blinds are posted by the next players and the cards are dealt again.

how to play Omaha poker a pair of aces with some poker chips

Ranking Hands in Omaha Poker

Hand rankings in Omaha Poker are exactly the same as in Texas Hold’em, so if you’re familiar with that game, this should be straightforward for you. Hand values in Omaha Poker tend to be higher because players start with 4 hole cards instead of 2. This means they can make a much wider range of hands and make the nuts—the highest possible hands—more frequently. 

Variations of Omaha Poker

There are a number of variations of Omaha Poker that are popular among online players. The first is Pot-limit Omaha or PLO, the second is Fixed-limit Omaha and the third is Omaha Hi-Lo.

Pot-Limit Omaha Poker

Pot-Limit Omaha Poker is now the second most played online poker variant on both desktop and mobile devices. In this variation, the maximum bet you can place is equal to the amount in the pot. Any bet amount between the big blind and the full amount of the pot is a legal bet.

Fixed Limit Omaha Poker

In this variation of Omaha Poker, the betting limits are fixed. This puts a cap on the number of raises that can occur. In this version, the limit of raises that can occur is four and must be equal to the size of the blinds. Since it’s relatively inexpensive to stay in the game, not a lot of folding takes place in this game.

Omaha Hi-Lo Poker

In Omaha Hi-Lo Poker (also known as Omaha Hi Low, or Omaha 8-or-Better), the game is played in the exact same way. The only difference is the hand can be won by two different players and the pot it split between them. This is a draw for many players, but a major draw-back for some. The best possible scenario in this game version is for one player to hold both the highest and lowest hands, thus winning the entire pot for themselves.

Omaha Poker vs. Texas Hold'em

For Texas Hold’em players, the Omaha Poker variant feels close to home. Many of the same rules and format are shared across both game types, which form the opening 1-2 of HORSE and similar multi-variant games. Each player is dealt four hole cards, as opposed to two in Texas Hold’em, before the betting pattern and community cards follow the Texas Hold’em format identically.

Omaha differs from Hold’em in that it takes the strongest hand to win most of the time. By that, we mean the nuts hand or as close to it as possible, because each player has nine available cards (the five community cards plus four hole cards) from which to compose their hand, with the available combinations having a multiplying effect. When the table is full, that makes it unlikely that players can bluff their way to victory with anything less than a strong hand. Two pairs or triples are usually unlikely to be strong enough — we’re talking straights, flushes or full house to be in contention.

Strategies and Tips for Winning Omaha Poker

As you play through each round, you need a good understanding of the odds of the game, strongest possible hands that could emerge from the information available to you, and how they develop as additional community cards are introduced. At the end of each round, the player with the highest ranking 5-card hand will win the pot. In order to win, players must use 2 hole cards and 3 community cards in their final 5-card hand. 

You usually don’t want to raise the action before the flop, because there are a huge number of possibilities that come to the fore when the community cards are dealt. Specifically, if you’re sitting with a hand of four aces, or similar, you probably want to fold straight away. You already know you’re unlikely to make the strongest available hand from the flop, because you can only choose two of your hole cards to contribute to the final hand.

You need to wait for the best cards to fall into your hand/on to the flop before getting too confident. Similar to Texas Hold’em, you don’t want to be aggressively betting hands on a bluff. In Omaha this is even more relevant, given that you’re effectively playing significant multiples of different potential hands simultaneously—weaker hands just aren’t a sensible play.

By contrast, when you do draw a strong hand—for instance, a suited straight—in your hole cards, it’s often a good idea to play cautiously at first to keep as many of your opponents in the hand as you can. The more people involved, the more money there will be on the table come showdown, and this kind of hand gives you multiple options for landing the nuts, or at least something nearly as strong.

If there’s one thing to remember throughout your Omaha play, it’s that bluffing will seldom get you very far. You wouldn’t bluff too often at a Texas Hold’em table with 30 other hands, and that’s essentially the kind of mountain you’re up against, given the combinations available to each player making up their hands. Instead, wait for the best hands to arrive, and increase your bet on those that are looking strong in multiple directions after the flop. These hands will be your best chance of walking away with the pot, and often your only credible chance of winning come the showdown when you’re against several other players. For more information, make sure you check out our comprehensive guide to Omaha Poker Strategy.

Where to Play Omaha Poker Online

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