How to play Omaha poker

Posted on: March 23, 2021 11:51 PDT

What is Omaha poker?

Omaha poker is a poker variant that plays similarly to Texas Hold’em. Players are dealt four hole cards in a game of Omaha and must make the best possible five-card hand using exactly two hole cards and three community cards. Pot-Limit Omaha is the second-most popular poker game in the world, behind Texas Hold’em, and is played in the World Series of Poker.

Rules of Omaha poker

Like Texas Hold’em, Omaha poker is a card game where players try to make the best poker hand out of their hole cards and five community cards. Omaha poker rules require players to use exactly two of their four hole cards and exactly three community cards to make the best hand. This is different from Texas Hold’em, in which players get two hole cards and can use any combination of hole cards and community cards.

For example, if you hold and the board comes out , you only have ace high. You would need at least two hearts among your hole cards to make a flush. You would also need a combination of two hole cards and three community cards to make any straight.

You may hear Omaha referred to as 'PLO'. This stands for 'Pot Limit Omaha', because pot-limit is the most common limit format used for Omaha, capping the maximum possible bet at the amount already in the pot. Omaha can be played as a limit or no-limit game, but it is rarer to find these games.

How to play Omaha poker

A game of Omaha starts with four hole cards dealt to each player, face down, and the two players to the dealer button's left placing a small and big blind. After that, the first round of betting (pre-flop) begins with the first player to the left of the big blind, with all players getting the chance to call, raise, or fold.

The flop

After the pre-flop betting round is complete, the dealer puts the first three of five community cards on the board, face up, known as 'the flop'. After the flop is dealt, all players still in the hand engage in a second round of betting, with action starting with the first remaining player to the left of the dealer button.

The first player can check, betting nothing, or they can bet. Players can bet any amount they wish, depending upon the format of the game — pot limit or no limit.

Other players in the hand can then check - if no bets have been made - or fold, call, or raise.

The turn

The dealer then puts a fourth community card on the board, face up. This card is known as 'the turn', or 'fourth street', and another betting round takes place.

The action after the turn card appears follows that of the previous round of betting: the first player to the left of the dealer button still holding cards can check or bet. Other players still in the hand can check if no bet has been made, fold to any action, call a bet, or raise. 

Again, in PLO, the raise cannot exceed the amount of money in the pot. The minimum bet is the size of the original big blind, as it is throughout the game.

The river and showdown

The fifth and final community card hits the board next. This card, known as the river (or fifth street), is followed by the final betting round.

If any players remain after this they go to a 'showdown'; the winner is the player with the best five-card hand (always using exactly two hole cards and three community cards).

How to bet in Omaha poker

Omaha is much more of a drawing game than Hold’em. Pre-flop play can be loose as multiple players may draw to a hand, waiting to see what the flop provides. That means the range of opening hands is wider than in Hold’em. 

Players can open with a range of starting hands, with 'double-suited' hands making for the best draws. For example, the best starting hand is something like with the double-suited nature of the hand giving two possible flushes or flush draws.

The nuts

More players may see a flop in Omaha than in Texas hold'em and other poker games, because the additional hole cards provide so many more card combinations. But with so many more options for each player, it's not uncommon to make very strong hands.

With two cards to come, if you make a good hand on the flop you will often want to see ways to improve your hand even more. Due to the large amount of potential draws, it's possible to flop the nuts and still not be the favorite to win the pot.


Blockers are also a key component of betting in Omaha. If you hold a blocker – a card that can prevent your opponent from making a particular hand – you can bet accordingly. 

For example, if you feel that your opponent was drawing to a nut flush but you hold the card that prevents that nut flush from getting there, you should bet accordingly. If that opponent represents the nuts and you know they cannot hold it, it is a prime opportunity to bet big and take the pot.

Omaha poker tips and strategies

Players moving from Texas hold’em poker to Omaha will need to develop new strategies. Playing a more drawing game requires something of a rethink regarding position and bluffing. And with the added blocker component, there’s a new layer to strategic thinking.

The importance of position

Position is important in any poker game, as the last player to bet has a distinct advantage. When you act after others you 'have position' on them, and can use the extra information at your disposal to make smarter and better-informed decisions.

Acting first, or playing 'out of position' requires better hands in general. Bluffing becomes more difficult, as any calls behind you will leave you wondering what your opponents could have and where you stand. Playing in position, by contrast, allows you to apply pressure to any perceived weakness, using 'scare cards' or raises to bluff your opponents off the pot, earn a free card on the next street, or build a big pot when you are very strong.

Bluffing in Omaha poker

Omaha is a game of strong hands, but also strong draws. If you can narrow your opponents' ranges to draws that have missed, you could pick up some good pots with a well-timed bluff.

Remember, though, that all those extra cards in the hands of your opponents mean many more combinations. The big bets and greater possibilities available in Omaha mean bluffing can sometimes be a tricky art to master.

Using blockers to gain an advantage

Skilled Omaha players learn how to use blockers to their advantage. While the focus on your own hand is key, knowing when you hold a blocker can be just as important.

If your hole cards contain one or more blockers for one or more opponents, you have more potential. For example, if your opponent is clearly chasing a flush or a straight but you hold some of the cards they need to complete that hand, you will know when they are more likely to be bluffing.

How to play Omaha poker FAQs

Can you use all four cards in Omaha poker?  

In Omaha poker, you need to use two of your hole cards (from your hand) and three of the community cards to make the best possible poker hand. Therefore, you can’t use all four of the cards that you are dealt. The number of cards that you’re dealt in Omaha (four) is perhaps the biggest difference between this poker variant and Texas Hold’em, where you are only dealt two cards. 

Is Omaha poker available on Zynga?  

Yes! Omaha poker is one of the poker games available on Zynga Poker. Zynga Poker is one of the world’s leading free-to-play poker sites, enabling you to play different poker games for free and without staking your own money. These games can be played anywhere in the world as no gambling takes place. 

What is the difference between Texas hold’em and Omaha?  

The main difference between Omaha and Texas hold’em is that in the former you are dealt four cards and must use exactly two, while in the latter you are only dealt two and can use as many or as few as you wish. As a result, making a high-ranking poker hand in Omaha is technically easier than it is in Texas hold’em, as you have two additional cards to choose from. 

What hands do you play in Omaha poker?  

The best starting hand that you can obtain in Omaha poker is double-suited. More generally speaking, you should play an Omaha hand if the cards that you’re dealt have the potential to make strong hands, with 'rundowns' (eg. ), pairs, suited connectors and suited aces also strong.

Do you burn cards in Omaha poker?  

Yes, the dealer burns cards in Omaha poker. This is the case in most poker games and is done to reduce the chances of someone cheating by following marked cards. So, if you’re dealing at an Omaha poker game at home, always remember to burn the top card before the flop, turn and river.