How to Play Omaha Poker | Official Omaha Poker Rules
Poker legend Sammy Farha said that if Texas Hold’em is the Cadillac of poker, then Omaha is the Porsche. The game is fast (oh so fast) and a wild ride from beginning to end. The main difference between Omaha games and Hold’em is that you get four-hole cards instead of two.
Poker Rooms with Omaha
This means your chances –and everyone’s at the table for that matter– of connecting with the community cards skyrockets. It’s important to note that you have to use two of your hole cards and three community cards to make a hand, unlike Texas Hold’em. For example, if one of your hole cards is a spade in Texas Hold’em and the board brings four spades, you can combine those five for a flush. In Omaha, you need two of your hole cards to be spades to hit the flush. It’s always two. You can’t use three or all four cards –even though sometimes we really wish we could– to make a hand.
There are some caveats depending on which variant of Omaha you’re playing, but we’ll get into that later. For now, let’s go over the basics, teach you how to play and set you on your way in a brand-new Porsche.
8-Step Guide to Playing Omaha
- First thing’s first, you need a deck of cards, some chips and at least one opponent with a maximum of 10 at a single table.
- Draw for the button. Choose any method you want like drawing a high card or assigning at random. The players to the button’s left will be the small blind and the player to the small blind’s left will be the big blind.
- All players get dealt four cards and take a peek.
- A round of betting starts with the person to the big blind’s left. This is known as the preflop bet.
- After the pre-flop bet are settled, three community cards are dealt. This is known as the flop. After that, betting begins with the player to the button’s left.
- Flop bets are settled, now it’s on to the turn. The turn is the fourth community card and that’s followed by another round of betting. Once again, action starts with the person closest to the button’s left.
- You’ve made it to the river. This is the fifth and final community card and also the last round of betting. After the betting is settled, players turn over their cards and find out who the winner is.
- Rake in your chips and bask in victory, or wallow in defeat. After that the dealer button moves to the left and it starts all over again.
|#1||Royal Flush||A straight from 10 to Ace, all the same suit.|
|#2||Straight Flush||Any cards in consecutive order that are all the same suit.|
|#3||Four of a Kind||Four of the same card.|
|#4||Full House||One pair and three of the same card.|
|#5||Flush||All cards are the same suit.|
|#6||Straight||Cards are in consecutive order.|
|#7||Three of a Kind||Three of the same card.|
|#8||Two Pairs||One pair of one card and one pair of another card.|
|#9||Pair||Two of the same card.|
|#10||High Card||None of the hands above, relying on the highest card in your hand.|
Like every game of poker out there, Omaha has a few variants with some being much more popular than the others. The most popular is Pot-Limit Omaha.
Pot-Limit Omaha – PLO
This form of Omaha refers to the betting style. In this format, you can only bet the size of the pot. It might sound a bit limiting, and it definitely does cap things off a little at first, but things quickly balloon and you find yourself being able to go all-in in no time.
For example, if four players all put in $5 preflop, there’s a $20 pot on the flop. Now you can bet up to $20. If you do, the pot is now $40 and the following player can raise by that amount. Things escalate pretty quickly and it’s a great match to the action-packed four-card variant. This is why, unsurprisingly, PLO is the most popular form of Omaha out there.
Fixed-Limit Omaha is kind of like having a speed limiter on your Porsche. You still get all the bells, whistles and experience of a high-end machine, but there’s a little extra security precaution to make sure you don’t spin out and lose control. The only difference in Fixed-Limit Omaha is how the betting. There’s only a fixed number you can bet or raise by. There’s also a limit on how many times players can raise, this can vary but it’s usually capped at three.
This is a funky one. It’s like putting large off-wheel tires on your Porsche but also putting a champagne cooler in the back for more sophisticated luxurious rides. Omaha Hi-Lo doesn’t just use the hand ranking we showed above, you play for the low hand as well. The pot is split into two in Omaha Hi-Lo, have goes to the high hand, the other to the low.
The low version of the game follows the same rules as a lowball game, with the lowest cards being the absolute best. Aces in this game take the role of both hi and low. So, the best possible lo hand is A-2-3-4-5. You can use the same lo cards for your hi cards or any combination of your hole cards.
Online or Live?
Well, that’s really up to you. If you prefer the visceral experience of playing live, then head on over to the nearest casino and get a seat. But there are plenty of benefits to playing Omaha online and it’s what we’d recommend for beginners. First, like we mentioned earlier, Omaha can be a pretty complex game with pot limit calculations and four-hole cards.
When you play online, the computer automatically detects and displays the size of the pot at all times. Most sites also have an option you can toggle that’ll tell you what your best hand is. This may seem basic, but with four-hole cards and five community cards it can be easy to miss a thing or two. On top of that, one of the best things about playing for real money online poker is how cheap you can play!
The lowest limits casinos tend to have is $1/$2 and it’s usually higher for Omaha. But online you can find limits as low as $0.01/$0.02. If you really just want to get a feel for the game without risking any money, all online sites also offer play money so you can learn the basics for free. If you’re looking for the best online poker sites to play Omaha, check out our reviews above.
Expanding Your Game
Have you played so much Omaha you could play with your hands behind your back? Time to switch things up and start your journey to mastery of another poker variant below.
Texas Hold’em – 3 Card Poker – 5 Card Draw – Stud Poker – 5 Card Stud – 7 Card Stud – Mississippi Stud – Caribbean Stud – HORSE Poker – Omaha Hi-Lo
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! You can play Omaha anywhere in the United States if you want to play online. If you want to play in a real live casino, then it depends on where you live. Check your local casinos to see if they offer any Omaha games and what the stakes are.
Absolutely. This is actually the method we recommend playing, especially for beginners. It’s convenient, there are a number of different stakes and even free-to-play cash games and tournaments so you can fine-tune your skills. On top of that, there’s no need to even get off the couch to start playing and there are games running 24 hours a day.
So you’ve got the basics down and want to start learning a bit more about Omaha strategy. The good news is that there are plenty of free resources to hone your game. TwoPlusTwo is a great collection of online forums with a fantastic section on Omaha. TwoPlusTwo is where poker players like 2004 WSOP World Champion Greg Raymer posted and talked strategy.
If you’re looking for books, there are plenty of options as well. “The Big Play Strategy” by Jeff Hwang is considered to be one of the best books on PLo out there. If you like that book, Hwang then has a 3-volume series called “Advanced Pot-Limit Omaha”. Sammy Farha’s “Farha On Omaha” is also a great choice. If you’re looking for a good book on Omaha Hi-Lo. then Bill Boston’s “Omaha High-Low for Low-Limit Players” is a great place to get started.
There’s no definitive answer to this, but there is a lot of debate around the question. The highest-earning Omaha player at the World Series of Poker is Tommy Le with $2.3 million in tournament earnings. He’s followed by Loren Klein, Jason Mercier and Daniel Alaei.
When it comes to cash games and online Omaha, Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius, Ilari Sahamies and Viktor “Isildur1” Blom. These maniacs played legendary $500/$1,000 Omaha games on Full Tilt with pots that regularly exceeded $1 million. These players are widely considered to be some of the best Omaha players ever, but there’s fierce discussions over who might be the absolute.
Who knows, maybe one day it’ll be you.
You know that excited feeling when you get dealt pocket aces in Texas Hold’em? Well, it’s an even better feeling when you get the best preflop starting hand in Omaha: AAKK double suited. Not only is your ace accompanied by a regal pair of kings, the hand can also be AK, which gives you straight possibilities and the double suited means you have two options to hit a flush. It’s like pocket aces on steroids.