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Omaha Rules

Learn how to play Pot Limit Omaha with this quick and easy guide to learning the Omaha Rules

If you already know how to play No Limit Hold Em then picking up the Omaha Rules should be a cakewalk (if you haven’t then familiarise yourself with them now before you continue). Although the differences in strategy between the two games are immense the rules are actually very similar. Here are the ways in which PLO (or Pot Limit Omaha) differs from NLHE:

In Pot Limit Omaha rules you are dealt 4 cards instead of 2. Here is an example hand:

Like in Hold ‘em the object is to make the best 5 card hand but unlike in NLHE you must use exactly 2 cards from your hand and 3 from the board (the community cards). This is different from No Limit Hold ‘Em where you can play any 5 cards out of the 5 on board and the 2 in your hand. To illustrate how this difference matters let’s take a look at a sample board that might fall in PLO or NLHE:

Take the example hand I gave you above: at first glance it might look like you have an ace high flush but you actually don’t as you can only play three of the diamonds from the board. This means that in Omaha Rules you cannot ever make a flush unless you have at least 2 of a suit in your hand. On this board your actual hand is two pair, tens and fours with a Q kicker. Because of this neccessity to play 2 cards from your hand and 3 from the board the value of having a coordinated 4card hand is vastly increased. Hands that are “double-suited” are considered higher in value because they have more chances of making a flush.

Here are a few more hands with possible boards for you to look at:

Your Hand The Board

Hand #1 You have trips with an Ace and a seven as kickers. In Hold ‘Em having an ace when quads fall on the board gives you the nuts. In this situation however you’re losing to anybody with a pair in their hand or a higher kicker to go with their ace. Omaha Rules dictate you can only play three cards from the board.

Hand #2 Again you have trips, this time with a Q kicker. In Hold ‘Em having a 9 on this board would give you a fullhouse, but as you can only use three cards from the board in Omaha Rules your final holding is instead Q♠9♠9♣95 and you would be losing to somebody holding, say 5♣32♠4as they would have a full house.

Hand #3 In the final hand I’m sure you’re beginning to see the pattern. Rather than the 7 in our hand making us a straight we actually just have a single pair of aces. If we changed the Kto either a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or an 8 our hand strength would then improve to a straight which should give you some idea of how dangerous a board like this is with such a vulnerable hand as just one pair.

Betting

The only other thing you need to know regarding Omaha Rules before you start playing is that in PLO you can’t always just shove “all in”. The “Pot” in “Pot Limit Omaha” refers to the maximum bet or raise you can make when the action is on you. This means it’s rare to see all the money go in pre-flop, rather the game lends itself to more complex and skillful multi-street decisions. If you’ve ever played Pot Limit Hold ‘Em you’ll be familiar with the way betting pot is calculated, it’s really very simple but can sometimes throw people off when they’re raising somebody.

Imagine there is $10 in the pot, your opponent bets $10 and you would like to raise the maximum you are allowed. Your pot raise is not $20 but rather whatever the pot would have been after your call. So here if you called the pot would be $30 so raising the pot is to call and then raise $30. So when the bet is to you, raising “for pot” would be a raise to $40 ($30 for your opponent to call).

Of course if you’re playing online it doesn’t matter much because you can just click the pot button, but it’s nice to know for those times you get your friends round for a home game and people aren’t so familiar with the Omaha Rules.

Where to play Pot Limit Omaha?

Now that you know the Omaha rules you’ll want to make sure you’re playing at the site which hosts the best games. Whereas almost all of the big name websites host hundreds of NLHE tables simultaneously, the differences between them when it comes to their Pot Limit Omaha action is substantial.

You’ll want to consider several factors when choosing which sites you’re going to do the majority of your playing at. These include the number of games running at any one time, the quality of the software and, perhaps most importantly of all, how fishy their players are.

With that in mind I took it upon myself to sign up at all the cardrooms that offer Pot Limit Omaha as a game, play a few thousand hands at each of them, find out which ones are best and then share that information with you. You can read my full conclusions at my “Where to play PLO” guide. Once you’ve signed up (and make sure you take maximum advantage of the sign up bonuses they offer) at your chosen site(s) it’ll then be time to start working on your strategy. Thankfully you’re already at the right website for that!

6 comments to Omaha Rules

  • dai llewellyn

    Why in hand 1 above wouldn’t you have A and 7 as kickers in place of A and 6 as kickers. Why can’t you use the 7 in place of the 6

    • David Dart

      Hey, thanks for spotting that mistake. You’re right. A7 would be your best hand in that situation. Article has been edited to fix this. Thanks!

  • Rle

    If you must use two cards, can you get quads w trips on the board using your card & the highest card in your hand for a kicker? And does this beat someone who has a pair in their hand?

    • X

      Old comment, but:

      Yes, e.g. 9s9c9dAs3h

      9hxxx would be the best possible hand and would beat out any others.

      Re: Above, Hand #2: A 2 instead of a K would not give a straight. Only “23457″. …or, one pair.

      • X

        /*Hand #3.

        The only situation with trips and the 4th card in which 4 of a kind would *not* be best is obviously a straight flush/Royal flush.

        e.g. AhAcAdKhTh

        QhJhxx vs. Asxxx

  • Alex

    Question:

    The hand of PLAYER 1 is
    K 6 2 4
    The hand of PLAYER 2 is
    K A 7 8
    The BOARD is
    Q Q K 6 3

    Player 2 win with the A kicker with KK QQ A (player 1 hand KK QQ 6) or in omaha we must necessary use the two cards of the four in our hands to COMPLETE the point, player 1 hand KK 66 Q? (in this case player 1 make the duoble couple with the two cards in the hands, and not with the QQ on board)

    Thanks

    Alex

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