Omaha-Hi – Where the Pots Get Huge!

Omaha-Hi or PLO (Pot Limit Omaha), as it is commonly known, is a game with a lot of quirks. Unlike Hold'em, this poker genre is more of a game of draws. Players get 4 instead of 2 starting cards. Therefore, there are many more ways to make a winning hand when compared to Hold’em.

Omaha Poker is a game of big hands and even bigger draws. It’s common to see two or even three flushes in the same suit. Therefore, learning how to play Omaha the right way is a must. Getting to grips with Omaha poker rules is also required.

Also, straight draws become wraps in Omaha. Having 4 cards means that your run-of-the-mill straight draw in other poker formats with 8 outs can suddenly balloon up to 20 outs!

It’s this peculiarity that makes the game so much fun – and builds such huge pots.

A Quick History of Omaha

There are two fascinating facts about the game of Omaha:

  1. It probably originated in the Chicago or Detroit areas in the late 1960s – not Omaha, Nebraska as the name indicates.  
  2. It didn’t hit the felt until the 1980s. The modern version of the game is relatively new when compared to other popular poker variations.

So, why the “Omaha”? It seems as if it was a compromise because the roots of the game were so diverse. Omaha was as good a pick as any – and this poker format is still very popular in that part of the USA.

Easy Guide to Pot Limit Omaha

If you’re ready for a poker thrill ride, this is definitely the game for you. But before you do anything too crazy, let’s look at some of the basic Omaha Poker rules:

  • Omaha-Hi has the same basic setup at a table as Hold'em with the Button, Small and Big Blind positions.
  • The Blinds still act as forced bets, designed to get the action going, pre-flop.
  • As in Hold’em, the Button is the last player to act post-flop and has position on the rest of the players in a hand.
  • Players are dealt FOUR face-down hole cards (face down cards) – not two, as is the case in Hold'em.
  • Players can and MUST use Two of those 4 cards to make their hand. There is no “playing the board”.
  • Betting rounds occur Pre-flop, after the Flop, after the Turn and on the River. You can check, fold, call, bet or raise accordingly.
  • In this poker format, you cannot play all 5 cards on the board. You must use 2 of your 4 hole cards in combination with 3 of the 5 community cards.

Bear in Mind:

  • 2 of 4 Cards: You can and must use only two of your hole cards to form the best poker hand.
  • Overvaluing Top Pair: The average winning hand in Omaha is a lot stronger than in Hold’em. Top Pair usually won’t be good enough on the river.
  • Over Playing Big Pairs: Starting hands that include Aces or Kings are good. However, they are much stronger when double-suited – like A♥A♣8♥6♣ - or have the ability to make Broadway – like A♦K♥Q♣J♠.
  • Learning to Draw: Omaha-Hi is a game of draws, which makes it good practice to bet on the draw – also referred to as betting on the come. Also, knowing which draws are real and which ones are dead takes skill. Learning to draw correctly is a must.

Ready for a roller-coaster ride? Let’s play some Omaha!