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A Beginner’s Guide to Omaha

Want to broaden your poker experience and try your hands at the fantastic game of Omaha? Through this guide you will comprehend the main differences in game play and the considerations needed to convert your skill in Texas Hold’em into a reasonable understanding of Omaha. For a description of the concept of hi/lo, please Rules.

Note: This guide is not an extensive Omaha rule guide and does require the reader to have a fundamental understanding of communal card poker games such as Hold'em in order to make sense. With that said it's also true, and that’s what makes Omaha so fascinating, that the skills and talents needed to succeed playing Hold'em is not necessarily the same needed to excel in Omaha!

4 Hole Cards

In Omaha players are dealt four hole cards instead of just two. This drastically increases the number of possible starting hands, and also requires a player to do a more in-depth analysis of each starting hand’s strengths and weaknesses.

Two Card in Use

The next big difference between Hold'em and Omaha is the two-hole cards restriction that constitutes that even though you have four pocket cards, two, and only two, must always be “in play”.
You cannot for example “play the board” as such a hand would NOT contain two of your hole cards. Neither can you use two communal spades and add three spade cards from your hole cards to complete a flush, as that would also break the rule – three cards being more than two.


Which cards you use often changes throughout the hand. And this is what makes Omaha so exciting and also explains why it is to a greater degree than Hold'em is a game of mathematics. There’s (almost) no end to the possibilities!

Pot Limit

Omaha is a game well-suited for the pot limit structure. And most players believe it works far better than playing the game in no limit format. So in order to learn Omaha properly one must grasp the basics of pot limit.

In pot limit the maximum a player can bet at any given time is an amount equivalent to the current pot size. So the larger the pot gets the higher the maximum bet is! This makes for some very interesting game play.

How to actually calculate the size of a “pot bet” is something you will pick up along the way, but this is the basic formula. Don’t let it confuse you.

Amount in pot from earlier betting rounds + 3 x the last bet made THIS round + all other bets this round = Pot bet.

Example: We are in the middle of the turn betting round. After the flop there was $100 in the pot.

Player A bets $10, Player B raises to $30, player C’s maximum pot bet is now: $100 + 3 * $30 + 10 = $200!

A Game of nuts

With more hole cards in play the chance of someone hitting a really massive hand obviously increases. And this fact must be taken into consideration.

A flush in Hold'em is a relatively strong hand as the chance of someone having a better one is slim. But in Omaha this is much more frequent. Having the “nuts” (best possible combination) thus becomes much more vital. Having semi-nuts (for example a king high flush) can many times turn out to be very, very costly.

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