How to Play Omaha (PLO) | Poker Rules
Omaha Hold’em (also known as just Omaha) is a game that plays similar to Texas Hold’em, but with a few key differences.
Like Texas Hold’em, the object of Omaha is to make the best possible five-card hand, using a combination of hole cards and five community cards.
In Omaha, however, players are dealt four hole cards, and must make a five-card hand using exactly two hole cards and three community cards. This differs from Texas Hold’em, in which players get two hole cards, and can use any combination of hole cards and community cards to make the best five-card hand.
Two versions of Omaha are commonly played around the world, regular Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo (aka Omaha Eight or Better). The next sections will cover regular Omaha. Learn how to play Omaha Hi-Lo here.
Omaha Rules Overview
Omaha is usually played with either pot-limit or limit betting rules. For more on the different betting structures in poker, check out our guide to Poker Betting Rules.
Pot Limit Omaha is commonly called “PLO”, and is the second-most popular poker game in the world, behind Texas Hold’em.
Omaha is played using the buttons and blinds system seen in many other poker variants. For more on how this system works, check out our guide to Blinds, Antes & The Button.
An Omaha game begins with each player getting dealt four cards. The dealer distributes these cards one at a time, starting with the player in the small blind and going clockwise around the table.
Once all players have four hole cards in front of them, the first of four betting rounds begins. Like in Texas Hold'em, players keep their hole cards hidden from other players throughout the game, only turning them over if a showdown takes place.
Omaha games involve four betting rounds -- preflop, flop, turn, and river.
Pot Limit Omaha Example Hand
When all players have four cards, the player to the direct left of the big blind begins the preflop betting round. This player has the opportunity to call (match the amount of the big blind), raise (bet an amount that's at least 2x the big blind amount), or fold (discard their hand and surrender any chance to win the pot).
After this player calls, raises, or fold, the action moves clockwise around the table, with each player having the chance to either call, raise or fold. The player on the big blind acts last, unless there is further action that needs to close after the big blind acts.
When all players have had the opportunity to either call, raise, or fold, all players remaining who did not fold advance to the next betting round, known as the flop.
For example, let's say we're watching a PLO cash game, with six players at $1/$2 cash game stakes. After each player is dealt their four hole cards, the player directly to the big blind's left (generally known as the "under-the-gun" player) has the option to either call the $2 big blind, raise to at least $4, or fold.
The under-the-gun player folds, and the next player to the left also folds. In a six-player game, this would make the player on the "cutoff", directly to the right of the button, next to act.
The cutoff player raises to $6 and the player on the button calls. The small blind folds, surrendering their $1 forced bet into the pot. The big blind, who already has a forced $2 bet in play, also calls, putting $4 more in the pot to match the $6 raise.
In this scenario, the preflop action has closed with $19 in the pot. Each of the three still live players have $6 in the pot, plus the small blind's $1.
After the preflop betting round closes, the dealer puts the first three of five community cards on the board. These three cards are known as the flop, and another betting round commences after that.
In our example hand, three players are still live. The dealer burns one card (taking it off the top of the deck and putting it face down), and puts the next three cards in the deck on the board, face-up.
All betting rounds after the flop start with the player in the small blind as first to act, if they're still live in the hand. If the small blind player isn't in the hand, the action starts with the first live player to the left of the small blind.
This player has the opportunity to check (put no money in the pot), or bet. After that, the next live player on the left has the chance to call (match a bet), raise (increase the amount of the bet), or fold. If the first-to-act player checks, this next player can also check.
In our example game, the small blind folded and is out of the hand already. The big blind is the next player on the left that's still in the hand, and acts first.
Let's say the big blind checks. The cutoff player is the next live player on the left, and this player bets $10 into the $19 pot. The player on the button is next to act, and folds.
The big blind raises to $35. The cutoff now has the option to call, putting $25 more in the pot to match the big blind's $35 bet. The cutoff can also re-raise, or fold. If the cutoff folds, the hand is over and the big blind player wins the pot.
In this scenario, suppose the cutoff calls the raise. The $19 pot has increased to $89, with two players each putting $35 more in the pot in the flop betting round. The cutoff's call would close the flop betting round.
With the flop betting round complete, the dealer burns another card, then puts a fourth community card on the board. This card is known as the turn, or "fourth street".
After the turn hits the board, the community cards in our example hand look like this:
The big blind is first to act again, and bets $50 into the $79 pot. The cutoff player calls, making the pot $179. The cutoff's call closes the turn betting round.
The dealer burns one more card, and puts the fifth and final community card on the board. This card is known as the river, or "fifth street".
The river hits the board in our example game, and the five community cards look like this:
The big blind checks, and the cutoff decides to check back, keeping the pot at $179. The two players then go to the showdown, and it's time to reveal the hands and see who has the winner. The last player who made an aggressive move (either a bet or raise) in the hand generally shows their cards first.
In this case it's the big blind, who turns over his hole cards:
The big blind has a flush, using their 5♥4♥ to make a five-card hand of J♥6♥5♥4♥2♥.
The cutoff player doesn't have to show their cards in this scenario, and has the option of just surrendering the pot without revealing their hole cards. In this example, however, the cutoff does turn over their hand, revealing:
The cutoff has a three-of-a-kind jacks, using their J♠J♣ to make a five-card hand of J♠J♣J♥6♥5♣. Note that even though the cutoff can't use one of his fours to make a straight with the 6-5-3-2 on the board, as you must use exactly two hole cards and three community cards in Omaha.
The big blind player wins the hand with the flush, and collects the pot. The blinds and button all shift one player to the left, and the next hand begins.
Here is another example of a showdown in Pot Limit Omaha poker:
Learn about Pot Limit Omaha strategy here.