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How to Play Omaha Poker

Get an edge with these quick tips and basic strategies

Played with 4 hole cards, and 5 community cards, Omaha is a more complex version of Texas Hold'em.

Omaha Hold’em has 270,725 starting hand combinations, compared with 1,326 in Texas Holdem.  Doubling the hole cards increases the game complexity exponentially.  

Invented in the 1980s, this community-card-based game is known for high variance and intense action. The bankroll swings in Omaha are not for the nit-of-heart.  

Omaha Hold'em Poker
Game ComplexityAdvanced
TypeCommunity Card Poker
Players2-10

Gameplay of Omaha Hold'em Poker

  • Setting Up

    Setting Up

    • You'll need: a button, small & big blinds.
    • The most common betting structure is pot limit.
    • Deal each player 4 cards, face down. This is the 'pre-flop' action.
  • Action

    The Action

    • There are 4 betting rounds:  pre-flop, flop, turn and river.
    • After the pre-flop betting, a 3-card "flop" is dealt which can be used by all players. 
    • The turn and river (dealt separately) contain 1 card each for a total of 5 community cards.
  • Who's the Winner?

    Determining a Winner

    • The player with the best combination of his 4 hole cards and the 5 community cards wins.
    • It's important to note that, unlike Texas Hold'em, in Omaha you MUST use exactly 2 hole cards, and 3 community cards to form your best 5-card hand.   

Basic Strategies of Omaha Poker

  • Pre-Flop

    Beginners should play well-connected hands and ace-high suited combinations to avoid getting into difficult situations.

    While position is important in Omaha, using a check and pot-raise line can be a valuable weapon for shutting down the action, so don't be afraid to mix it up out of position as well. 

    Pre-flop play should be much looser than in Texas Hold'em

  • Post-Flop

    Turn off your Texas Hold'em instincts.  You can no longer get married to 2-pair flopped hands. 

    Be ready to shove it all in with strong draw hands as, mathematically, they can lead many pat hands.  .  

    Bluffing in Omaha is risky since you'll run into more strong hands, but many players will throw away any non-nut hands if your timing is right. 

  • Betting

    Betting occurs after the first 4 hole cards are dealt, plus after every section of community cards.  There are 4 rounds in total.

    While Omaha is played as mostly pot-limit, you should have little difficulty in getting it all-in with a good hand as players are much more apt to gamble.

    Stay aggressive, but be ready to make some sick folds as well.

What You Need to Know About Omaha Hold'em Starting Hands

  •  Good Starting Hands

    Play high double-suited and well connecting cards:

    • Examples include A-A-K-K and Q-J-T-9 double suited. 
    • Other double pair, double suited hands are great as well.
  •  Poor Starting Hands

    Avoid non-suited, non-connecting hands: 

    • Examples include K-8-6-2, non-suited, and the like.
    • Also avoid hands such as non-suited A-9-3-3.
  •  Marginal Starting Hands

    Limping is fine in Omaha; do so with the following: 

    • Big single suited hands like A-K-Q-9 or K-J-T-8.
    • Mid pair-single suited hands like T-T-9-7. 
  •  Positional Hands

    Equity margins are smaller in Omaha, so loosen up:

    • Try playing low and well-connected hands like 5-4-3-2.
    • Small suited connectors & one-gappers (T-9-7-6) are nice too.  

Do's and Don'ts for Better Omaha Hold'em Play

  • Big Pairs Aren't Worth as Much

    Especially compared to Texas Hold'em.  Big naked pairs (unsuited and with no straight possibilities) can get a novice player in big trouble.  Big pairs are still good, but you can much more easily get away from K-K than you can in Texas Hold'em.  

  • Only Draw to Nut Hands (Especially in Full Ring Games)

    Since many Omaha hands are multi-way, the odds that more than one player will hit a flush draw are relatively high.  Don't be on the beating end of that stick.   Stay with nut suits and high-end straight draws only.  

  • Bluff Smarter, Not Harder

    Bluffing in Omaha should be done selectively and against only certain opponents.  If a player has recently taken a bad beat, try exploiting a scare card, such as a paired board, with a nice sized bluff.

Famous Omaha Hands

  • Omaha Hold'em Poker: Running It 4 Times!

    Lowering variance goes to a new level. Sort of.

    This Video Contains:

    1. Andrew Robl and Patrik Antonius.
    2. Some taunting from Antonius.
    3. A result you won't believe!
  • Omaha Hold'em Poker: Tom Dwan vs. Phil Ivey

    Great PLO action from Poker After Dark.  

    This Video Contains:  

    1. A heads-up pot.  
    2. Deliberate play by Dwan.
    3. Ivey showcases his hand-reading skills.

Where Can I Play Omaha Online?