Omaha is a game that is similar to Texas Hold’em and is therefore a natural step in the progression towards playing mixed games. While Omaha can be played as High/Low Split game (also called 8 or Better), we will be discussing Omaha High in this article, which is a fairly easy game to grasp.
You may often refer to Omaha High as Pot Limit Omaha or simply PLO. While it’s true that Omaha High is most commonly played as a pot-limit game, it is not synonymous with PLO because it can also be spread as a Limit or No Limit game. In Pot Limit Omaha, players can bet or raise any amount up to what is currently in the pot at that time. In Limit Omaha, players must only place their bets and raises in predetermined increments that usually double after the first two betting rounds. Finally, in No Limit Omaha, players are only limited to their total chip stack when sizing their bets and may bet everything they have at any time (called “going all-in”).
Like Hold’em, Omaha is a Flop game and has the same goal: to make the best five card poker hand according to the traditional high poker hand rankings (please read our hand rankings page to learn how this works). Players attempt to create the best hand by using their face-down hole cards in combination with the community cards (which are dealt face-up to share with your opponents).
However, there are a couple of very important differences between Hold’em and Omaha which are essential to understand before playing your first hand of Omaha. First, rather than being dealt two hole cards, Omaha players receive four cards to work with. In addition (and this is where Hold’em players often get confused), players are required to use exactly two of their face-down hole cards and three shared community cards to make a five card hand. Players cannot use one, three, or all of their hole cards; they MUST use two. For example, if you have three spades in the hole and there are two on the board, you have NOT made a flush because you are not permitted to use more than two of your hole cards. If you had one spade in your hand and there were four on the board, you again do not have a flush because you must use exactly three community cards and two hole cards to create your hand. While this may sound simple, it may take a while to remember when transitioning from Hold’em to Omaha, so be sure to keep it in mind while playing.
Typically, an Omaha table will seat nine or sometimes ten players. A small round dealer button is placed in front of one person at a time and is moved one spot to the left after the completion of each hand. The player sitting on the button’s right is required to post a small blind, and the player on their right posts a big blind (typically twice the price of the small blind). These blinds are simply forced bets that help build the pot and drive the action after the cards are out.
After the blinds are posted, each player is dealt four hole cards, kept face down throughout the hand. The first round of betting begins with the player sitting to the big blind’s immediate left and continuing clockwise. Based on the strength of their hands, players each have the opportunity to call, raise or fold (options which depend on the action ahead of them). The blind players are last to act during this initial betting round but will be first to act in every subsequent round.
Next, three shared community cards, which is called the Flop, are dealt face up. Players observe these cards before another betting round ensues. After the betting is complete, a second community card called the Turn is dealt face up. A third betting round is completed before a final shared community card comes out, called the River. One final betting round occurs before players compare their holdings in what is known as a Showdown. A winner is now determined, the pot is pushed, and the hand is completed.