How to Play Omaha & Omaha Hi/Lo Poker

Omaha poker is the 2nd most popular poker game, after texas holdem. It’s what many players go to after playing holdem. For most it’s to diversify their skill set, and for others it’s merely to keep from being bored.

I think omaha is the 2nd most popular game because on the surface omaha looks much harder to learn, especially when compared to holdem. Not to mention that holdem is the game most shown on TV.

However, omaha isn’t that hard of a game to learn, and even easier if you’ve already learned how to play holdem. I’ll show you exactly what I mean. Below you’ll find the rules, winning hands and better formats explained in detail.

An Example Hand of How to Play Omaha – Rules & Game Play

This is an example of how your typical hand of omaha plays out. Anything to do with omaha hi/lo will be explained during/after the ‘what hands win’ section.

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The Blinds & Hole Cards

Omaha poker is a game played with blinds. There are two blinds that need to be posted, the small blind and the big blind. In a $2/$4 omaha game, $2 would be the small blind and $4 would be the big blind. The player that sits one seat to the left of the dealer button is the small blind, and the player to his left (2 seats to the left of the dealer button) is the big blind.

Once the blinds are posted each player is dealt 4 cards, one at a time, starting with the small blind. The cards are dealt around the table clockwise until each player has received their hole cards.

Preflop

Once all of the cards have been dealt, the first betting round will begin. The betting will start with the first player to the left of the big blind, also known as the player “under the gun” or “utg.” This player will have the option to fold, call or raise the big blind.

After the player under the gun has acted, the betting action will continue clockwise around the table until each player has had the opportunity to act. Each player will have the option to fold, call or raise depending on the action in front of them, as well as the betting format being used (explained more below).

Once all players have acted, the remaining players will then go to the flop.

Flop

The flop is 3 community cards (of 5) that players can use to make the best 5-card poker hand possible. Once the dealer deals 3 cards face up, another round of betting will start.

Unlike preflop where the betting action starting with the player to the left of the big blind, action on the flop and all subsequent rounds will begin with the player closest to the left of the dealer button.

This player will have the option to check (pass) or bet. Once this player has acted, then each remaining player afterward (moving clockwise around the table) will have the option to check, fold, call or bet depending on the action in front of them.

If there are two or more players after each player has had the opportunity to act, then they will go to the turn.

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Turn

The turn is the 4th community card that each player can use to make their 5-card poker hand. The betting round will be identical to the flop.

River

The river is the 5th and final community card that players can use. The betting round will play exactly the same as the flop and turn.

Now, if all but one player folds, then that player will be the winner and be awarded the chips. However, if there are two or more players still in the hand after the betting round, then there will be a showdown. A showdown is where one or more players show their hand to determine the winner.

If there was no betting on the river, then the player closest to the left of the dealer button will need to show their hand. However, if someone did bet on the river, then that player will need to show their hand. Working clockwise around the table, each remaining player can muck (not show their hand) and lose, or show their hand if it’s the best.

The player with the best hand will win. Players must use no more/less then 2 of their hole cards and 2 community cards to make their hand.

After the chips are awarded, the dealer button moves one seat to the left, blinds are reposted, the cards are reshuffled and dealt and a new hand can then get started.

What Hands Win in Omaha

Omaha (hi) uses the traditional hand ranking chart to determine the best hand. From the best hand to worst:

  • Royal Flush
  • Straight Flush
  • 4 of a Kind
  • Full House
  • Flush
  • Straight
  • 3 of a Kind
  • 2 Pair
  • 1 Pair
  • High Card

Pots are split when there are ties, and suits are not used for breaking ties.

Omaha Hi/Lo

One variation of omaha is omaha hi/lo, or omaha 8 or better. In this variation 2 different hands can win at showdown — a ‘hi’ hand that uses the traditional hand ranking chart explained above, and a ‘lo’ hand, which is 5 cards that are 8 or lower.

For example, if two players go to showdown and one shows a flush and the other shows a 7-4-3-2-A, then the pot will be split amongst them. It is possible for pots to be split amongst multiple players in the case of ties (players will receive quarter pots instead of halves).

The best lo hand that can be made is a wheel, or A-2-3-4-5. Players will lo hands that also make hi hands (like a wheel or flush) can also win both the lo and hi pot, also known as scooping the pot.

To determine the best lo hand, simply count from the top card down. For example, a A-2-3-4-8 is a worse hand than A-3-4-5-7. If the highest cards are the same, then you look at the second highest, then the third and so on.

All the other rules (above) will apply.

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Omaha Poker Betting

Omaha is usually played in one of two different betting formats — pot limit and no limit. Here is how the betting would work in either game (using $2/$4 as examples):

  • The small blind is $2 and the big blind is $4. These must be posted before the cards are dealt.
  • All bets must be a minimum of the big blind, or the current bet. For example, if no one bet, the smallest raise is to $8. However, if someone else already bet/raise, then the minimum raise is 2x their amount.
  • In a no limit omaha game, any player at any time can move all of their chips into the middle — go “all in.”
  • In a pot limit game the biggest raise can not be any bigger than the size of the current pot. For example, if the pot had $10 in it, then the next raise cannot be any bigger than $10. However, if someone bet $10 making the pot $20, then the next player could raise as much as $20. Players can continue raising until someone folds, calls to see the next community card or until one player is all in.

And that’s all there is to playing omaha poker.