Omaha Poker Rules | Learn the Official Rules of Omaha Poker
Sick of Texas Hold'em? Looking for a game with twice the action, four times the level of strategy and technique and 10 times the panic when you're all in and hoping your 51% favorite holds?
You're looking for Omaha! And get ready for the time of your poker life.
Once you learn the rules of Omaha Poker and add it to your poker rotation, you'll never look back. And rightly so. It's a blast to play and will keep your brain working long after you've cashed in your chips and headed home or shut off the computer.
How to Play Omaha Poker
If your introduction to poker came via the game of Texas Holdem it won't take you long to grasp the rules of Omaha. More or less, the rules for Omaha poker are the same as Holdem with a few subtle differences.
The optimal strategy for Omaha is dramatically different than Hold'em but the rules of Omaha poker, generally speaking, don't veer away too far from Hold'em. If you're an old-school 7-Card Stud or 5-Card Draw player you'll have a bit more learning to do but overall Omaha poker rules are easy to grasp and simple to implement.
The betting rounds in Omaha work the same way as they do in Texas Holdem with a total of five community cards dealt as "The Flop" (three cards), followed by "The Turn" (one card) and "The River" (one card).
The dealer button and blinds are also used the same way and, similarly, there is a round of betting before the flop, on the turn and on the river
If you want to add an extra strategy twist to the game there's also an Omaha variant called Hi/Lo in which the pot is split between the highest and the lowest hand.
High hand rankings in Pot Limit Omaha Hi are the same as in Texas Holdem and most other forms of poker; check below for the low-hand rankings.
Omaha vs. Texas Holdem
The main differences between Omaha and Texas Holdem are:
- All players receive 4 hole cards and exactly two of these cards must be used together with the board to create a five-card poker hand.
Because of the many possible combinations the winning hand in Omaha is often much stronger than a winning Texas Holdem hand.
- Omaha can be played as Fixed Limit and No-Limit but most common is the Pot Limit variation. This means bets are limited to the current size of the pot, i.e., you can bet less but not more than the pot total
The first betting round takes place when the four hole cards have been dealt. Then three community cards are dealt to the board - the flop. The second round of betting takes place. Then a fourth board card is dealt, called the turn.
The third betting round takes place, and finally the fifth and last community card is dealt, the river. With all cards on the board, the last betting round is battled out. If more than one player remains in the hand, there is a showdown and the player with the best poker hand wins the hand.
Complete Rules of Omaha Poker
If you're not a Texas Hold'em player and need a complete refresher or run through on Omaha Poker rules, here's a quick one:
- Tables are made up of 2-10 players
- If you're at a casino table the dealer is fixed but the "position" of dealer still rotates around the table. In a home game the dealer position moves clockwise after each hand.
- Blinds are forced bets made by two player before every hand. The small blind is usually half of the big blind (eg. $1/$2). The position of the blinds also rotates clockwise around the table so you will be in each position once every 6-10 hands (depending on how many players are at the table.
- Once the blinds have been paid the dealer deal out one card at time starting with the player on his or her left (the small blind). Each player gets one card face down until all players have 4 cards
- First betting round begins with the player to the left of the big blind choosing to a) fold b) call the amount of the big blind c) raise the bet according to table limits
- Each player then must in turn make the same decisions - fold, call the amount of the highest bet or raise
- The small blind has already invested some of the money towards any pots so either must complete the bet to the size of the big blind (if no one else has raised) or match any raise. The big blind, should no one have raised, can simply check and see the flop without putting more money in the pot.
- The 3-card community flop is dealt face up in the middle of the table. These are cards all players can use to make up their best 5-card hand
- The next betting round begins under same conditions but starting with the closest player to the left of the dealer.
- Once all players have acted the turn card is dealt face-up to the right of the flop
- Next betting round begins with player closest to left of the dealer still in the hand
- River card is dealt face up on the board
- Final betting round begins
- All players left in the hand after the final betting round determine which hands wins. If there was no betting on the last street showdown goes in the same order of betting with the player to the left of the dealer showing their hand first. Then each subsequent player either show his cards to claim the pot or muck them face down and concede. If there was a bet on the river the last player to either bet or raise reveals their cards first.
- Showdown then proceeds around the table clockwise
- The best hand wins the pot.
Omaha Poker Rules of Betting
You can typically play Omaha in three betting formats:
- Fixed Limit
- No Limit
- Pot Limit
The rules of Omaha for all three or more or less the same with some small variations on how much you can bet.
Pot Limit Omaha
The minimum bet in Pot Limit Omaha is the same as the big blind. The maximum bet is up to the size of the pot.
A raise amount must be as big as the previous bet or raise eg. if the bet is $5 then the next player must raise another $5 to at least $10 total).
How do you determine the size of the pot?
- Total of the active pot + all bets on the table + amount player must first call before raising
Example: If the current pot is $20 and there are no bets in front of him a player can bet a maximum of $20. The next player can then fold, call $20 or raise any amount between $20 and $80 (Original $20 + call of $20 then raise of $40 - the size of the new pot).
There is no ‘cap’ on the number of raises in PLO.
Fixed Limit Omaha
Betting in Fixed Limit Omaha, as you might have guessed, is always a fixed amount. Pre-flop and on the flop all bets and raises are the same as the big blind. That then doubles for turn and river bets.
Up to 4 bets are allowed per player in each betting round (bet, raise, re-raise, final raise).
No Limit Omaha
No-Limit Omaha is pretty rare but does exist. Similar to No-Limit Texas Holdem the minimum bet is the size of the big blind but up to as many chips as each player has.
Note: One very nice part about playing Omaha poker online? Your betting slider won't let you bet more than what's allowed so you can always tell the maximum bet!
The basic game structure of Omaha Hi-Lo is the same as in Omaha High (and Texas Holdem,) with a small and a big blind and three community cards known as the "Flop", followed by a "Turn" and a "River." The game has a dealer button, which is moved one step clockwise after each completed hand.
Just like in Omaha High, all players are dealt four hole cards, and exactly two of these must be used with three from the board to make a five card hand.
The Low Hand in Omaha
The difference between Omaha High and Omaha Hi-Lo is that the pot is split between the highest ranking hand and the lowest. Therefore, the goal of the game is to "scoop" the pot, which happens when you hold both the best high and the best low hand.
However, in some cases no low hand will be possible, since it must meet some certain conditions. If there is no qualified low hand, the high hand wins the entire pot.
Just like the high hand, a qualifying low hand must be made up of two of the player's hole cards and three of the community cards, but no card must be higher than an eight. Straights and flushes do not disqualify the low hand, but pairs do.
The highest of the low-hand cards determines the winner, which means that 3-4-5-6-7 is a better low hand than A-2-3-4-8. Consequently, the best possible low hand is A-2-3-4-5 and the worst is 4-5-6-7-8.
What is Quartering in Omaha?
Even if you hold either the best high or the best low hand, it's possible to get "quartered." This happens for instance if your opponent has the same high hand as you, but also a qualifying low hand.
The high hand half of the pot will be split, but your opponent wins the remaining half of the pot. For this reason, it's always preferable to have a hand with both high and low possibilities.
Rules of Omaha Poker in a Nutshell
- The betting structure in Omaha Hi-Lo is the same as in Omaha High and Texas Holdem
- You must use exactly two of your hole cards and three community cards to make both the low and the high hand (but not necessarily the same two).
- For a hand to qualify as a low, it must be an unpaired five-card hand made up of cards 8 or lower. Straights and flushes do not disqualify a low hand.
- The pot is split between the high hand (standard hand ranking) and the low hand, if applicable.
Omaha Poker Tournament Rules
The rules of Omaha don't change when the game shifts from cash game to tournament form but the basic differences of tournament play (blinds go up at specific intervals, everyone starts with the same amount of chips) obviously apply.
Optimal Omaha tournament strategy is also different from optimal Omaha tournament strategy. If you'd like a quick primer on the basics of solid Pot-Limit Omaha strategy, for tournaments or cash games, check our Pot-Limit Omaha strategy article here.
Play Omaha Poker Online
If you'd like to jump in and get your feet wet learning to play Omaha online, you've got quite a few good options. PokerStars, 888poker and partypoker all offer plentiful Omaha poker games in both cash games and tournaments.
All three also have free-play option where you can learn the rules of Omaha and get up to speed with how to play online without risking any of your own money.
Once you've got the Omaha rules sorted you can then make a real-money deposit at your leisure and get started playing for real money.
Pot-Limit Omaha is the most common variation you'll find with cash-game stakes starting very small and tournament buy-ins very affordable.
Omaha Hi-Lo is also available but your best bet for game selection there is probably at PokerStars.
No-Limit Omaha is a pretty uncommon variation and rarely spread online, but there's an odd chance you might find a game if you poke around. Check our online poker room reviews for more on their Omaha poker options: