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How to Play Pot-Limit Omaha Poker for Beginners (May 2024)

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Start Playing Pot-Limit Omaha Poker

Though Texas Hold'em may be the most well-known poker variant, Omaha Poker is a widely played game that offers just as much entertainment and opportunity to win money. Omaha Poker is commonly played with a pot limit. You may have seen the abbreviation PLO, which stands for pot-limit Omaha. This game offers players plenty of excitement and great opportunities to make money, and it is quite simple to learn. If you have played Texas Hold'em, you will have no problem adapting to pot-limit Omaha, however, you may need to play with different strategies. However, if you are completely new to poker then do not worry, our extensive guide will teach you everything you need to know. After reading this article, you can jump into any game and start playing.

What is Omaha Poker?

Each round's base game and steps are identical to Texas Hold'em, with one exception. You will be drawn 4 cards instead of 2, and at the end of each round, you can use your best 2 cards to form your poker hand. This doubles your possibilities and gives you a far better chance of hitting those highly sought-after flushes or straights, but it also makes it easier for your opponents. Therefore, you need to be more careful when playing Omaha Poker, but once you form your strategy you will realise it is extremely fun and each round is highly eventful.

Pot-Limit Games

Pot-limit poker games are games where there is a limit as to how much you can raise the pot. There is no cap on how many times you can raise the pot, but you can only raise by a limited amount. Basically, the maximum bet you can make is the following:

The amount it takes to call + the total amount of the pot

If you are playing online poker, you do not need to worry about counting the limits as they will already be calculated for you.

Calculating the Maximum Raise

Take a game in which the Small Blind is $1 and the Big Blind is $2.

  1. Player 1: Small Blind of $1. This player puts $1 into the pot. Pot size of $1
  2. Player 2: Big Blind $2. This player puts $2 into the pot. Pot size increases to $3
  3. Player 3 (first to raise): call $2 Big Blind, raise by $2+$3 = $5. This player has put $7 into the pot. Pot size increases to $10
  4. Player 4 (second to raise): must call $5, and can raise by $5+$10. This player puts a further $20 into the pot. Pot size increases to $30

It is actually incredibly simple, and once you play a few rounds in a pot-limit game you should get the hang of it.

How to Play Pot-Limit Omaha Poker

Each round is divided into 5 stages: the Preflop, Flop, Turn, River and the Showdown. There are betting rounds in each of these phases, except for the Showdown, which is the conclusion of the round.

During the betting rounds, players can raise, call or fold. Raising is when you increase the bet in the round. When you call, you are meeting the raise, and keeping in the game. If you fold, this is basically throwing away your cards and you will not continue in the round. When a player folds, they will not win and therefore they lose the money they have contributed to the pot in that round.

The Preflop

Before any cards are dealt, the small and big blinds need to be paid. These are two fixed-price bets that two players must pay. The position of the small and big blind shifts after every round. Once the blinds are paid, the house deals every player 4 cards facing down. The players can check their cards, also called hole cards. Then, the round of betting starts with the player to the left of the player who paid the big blind. To take part in the round, each person at the table needs to pay an amount equal to the big blind. Players can also raise at this point, which will prompt the others to react by calling or folding, or they can raise again.

The Flop

Once the preflop betting is over, the dealer will draw 3 communal cards. This is called the flop. Then, another round of betting will begin. If two or more players remain, the round moves to the next phase. If only one player remains, and all the others fold, then that player keeps the pot and the round concludes.

The Turn

If there are multiple players in the game after the flop betting round, the dealer draws one more communal card. This is followed by another round of betting.

The River

The dealer draws one last communal card, which is called the river. If there are any remaining players, they have one last chance to make their bets. If not, then the round moves into the final stage.

The Showdown

This is the conclusion of the round when the remaining players need to reveal their cards. The player that can form the best 5-card poker hand wins the round. This poker hand can only be formed with exactly 2 of the hole cards.

When the winner is determined, they take the pot. If two, or more, players have hands that are equal in value, they split the pot between them. This is a rare occurrence, but it can still happen. Once the round is concluded, the dealer gathers all the cards and prepares for the next round.

Advice for New Players

After playing Texas Hold’em, Omaha poker will feel amazing. With double the number of hole cards, those pairs, straights and flushes will appear more often. However, you should not lose your head. Rounds can be far more volatile and therefore you should approach Omaha poker with caution. You will find, once you start playing, that the game moves at a completely different pace.

Pick and Stick to Your Starting

In the beginning, you may feel inclined to always review your 2 hole cards after the flop, turn and river.

What if there is a better hand available? should you play for the solid pair or for the potential flush? are you wasting a good hand or playing carefully?

It is best to try to pick 2 cards and stick to them. Anything can happen over the course of each round, and maybe you can form a better hand once the communal cards are all dealt. However, if you keep second-guessing yourself each step of the way, this will affect how you play. Do not be daunted by the four hole cards, just pick your strongest two and stick to them. In most cases, these will form your best hand.

Do Not Overvalue Small Pairs

You may feel inclined to start strong if you have a pair in the hole. This is something that you should avoid doing, especially if you have a low pair, as it will most likely be beaten at the flop. In pot-limit Omaha poker, you should be dubious about low pairs.

Be Cautious of Low Flushes and Straights

The same goes for flushes and straights. These occur more frequently than Texas Hold'em and so you should not get overexcited if you have a flush or straight after the flop. It is still a strong hand, but there is a good chance that another player may have the same flush or straight. If you have a high card in addition to the straight/flush, then you may have a better chance to beat that player.

Avoid Calling

Each round in Omaha poker can bring great cards for players, and therefore the pot grows at a much faster rate than Texas Hold'em. Most players either raise or fold at the table, and not many opt to call a bet in the first circle of each betting phase. There is no place for hesitation, so either raise or fold. If you have a good hand, do not be afraid to raise the pot as this shows the other players your intent. If you fold, you save your money for the next round, where you may get better cards. Limping (which is calling the bet each time) is punished quite severely. Also, you do not want the other players to think you will always play your hand as they will take advantage.

Raise Tactfully

This relates to the tip about how you should avoid making calls. The amount you can raise is capped in pot-limit Omaha, but you should still be wary about maxing it out. Most players either raise or fold, and generally, they are not bluffing when they raise. At a table with many players, bluffing is more difficult and can be costly. A player that starts the preflop with a big raise usually has a good hand.

Use Your Position in the Betting Cycle

This tip goes for all poker variants. Your position at the table can give you a massive advantage or it can put you in the dark. Most players do not like having an early turn in each betting cycle. A big raise may scare off all the other players, and then you cannot make the most of your hand. It is a skill to bait the other players with a raise that does not give anything away. If you can do that, you can watch to see how they react, and when the cycle comes back to you, you can decide whether to keep feeding the pot or wait for the next round.

A late turn in the betting cycle is advantageous as you do not need to open the raising straight away. You can watch as the pot grows, and based on how the players react, you can decide whether to fold or join in.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to use 2 hole cards?

Yes, and you must use 2. In Texas Hold’em, your best hand may come from 1 hole card and 4 communal cards, or 2 hole cards and 3 communal. In Omaha poker games, you have to use 2 cards, no more and no less.

For example, a three of a kind or four of a kind in the hole cannot be used. Instead, it will just be a pair (or anything stronger you can form with the communal cards).

Here is another example: you have 2 of hearts, 3 of hearts, 6 of spades and a Queen of diamonds in the hole. The 5 communal cards are 2 of spades, 8 of hearts, 9 of diamonds, 10 of clubs, and Jack of spades. 

You can form a straight using the 10 in the hole and the communal 8, 9, Jack and Queen. However, this only uses 1 out of your 4 hole cards, which is not allowed. Instead, your best 5-card hand is a pair of 2s and the Queen, Jack and 10. This is significantly weaker than the straight and the Queen high.

Why is Omaha Poker played with pot limits?

Omaha poker tends to bring stronger hands than Texas Hold'em. As a result, players will raise more often and with larger amounts. To make sure the games last longer and no one loses their money in the first few rounds, the maximum amount you can raise is limited. Also, pot-limit Omaha games often do not have really large “VIP stakes” games where the small/big blinds range in the hundreds of dollars.

What is the worst hand I can be dealt?

The worst hand you can be dealt in Omaha poker is four 2s. The most you can bring out of that hand is a pair of 2s. This will not get you far as even if another player has a pair, it will always beat yours (because you have all the 2s so their pair will be of 3s). Also, you cannot form a straight or flush as you need to use at least 2 cards in your 5-card hand.

Conclusion

Pot-limit Omaha is offered at most online poker rooms and casinos. If you have never played before, then do not worry, as you can usually find low-stakes games or practice sessions. It is not difficult to learn and it can be a highly thrilling and rewarding game.

Lloyd is passionate about online gambling, he lives and breathes blackjack and other table games, and he enjoys sports betting.