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Omaha Poker - Rules & Strategies to Win

Omaha is a community card game that is similar to Texas Hold'em Poker. However, the rules vary a little. Instead of two hole cards dealt in Texas Hold’em Poker, the players are in Omaha are dealt four hole cards each. Out of the four hole cards, the players, at showdown, have to select two hole cards and make the best five of the seven cards to win a hand. The betting rounds (pre-flop, flop, turn, and river) and the hand rankings are the same as Texas Hold’em. 


Pot-limit Omaha (PLO)


Pot limit is a betting structure where players are allowed to bet/raise between a minimum bet and the current size of the bet. The players cannot raise more than the amount in the pot over and above the amount of bet that has to be called. 

So, the maximum bet is the amount of bet + total amount of chips in the pot. For example, if the pot is Rs 100, and player A wants to raise since the maximum pot is 100, Player A would be able to raise anywhere between Rs. 10-100, Rs. 100 being the maximum. Now, if Player B wants to raise, he will first match Rs. 100 bet and then pot, making the pot Rs. 300. 


Pot-Limit Omaha is one of the most fun and yet heartbreaking card games to have ever been played. This variation has so many ups and downs in the same hand that people often think that there is no strategy to it. The truth is, Pot-limit Omaha, like Texas Hold’em, has a significant element of strategy involved.  


Omaha starting hands 


The starting hands differ in Pot Limit Omaha and there are different strategies to play them as well. Now, there are thirty starting hands (or hole cards) with the highest percentage of winning. If you play with these hands, you are sure to be in a chip lead. However, more on pre-flop betting later. Let’s first see the best starting hands in Pot Limit Omaha. 

omaha poker starting hands


Four Hole Cards, And Not Two

First of all, you have to realize that in Pot Limit Omaha, you start with 4 hole cards instead of 2. So, there are many more probabilities to deal with than in Texas Hold’em. Next, in Texas Hold’em, an Ace Pair (A-A) is a sure shot highest strength starting hand, and wins most of the times. However, it is not so in Pot Limit Omaha (or PLO). In PLO, although this is a wonderful starting hand, an unconnected pair along with A-A will not profit much. So you will have to play AA along with an unconnected pair as per the board. 


Pot Variance

Therefore, it is extremely important to know the best starting hands in Pot Limit Omaha, to be a winner at the game. Once you start playing and worse, betting on weaker hands, you’ll lose your stacks sooner than you’ll realize. You have to also keep in mind that the pot variance in PLO is much higher than in Texas Hold’em Poker. So, it is always advisable to keep your stack healthy to avoid being strong played by players with a higher stack.


A Game of Draws

As you see, A-A-K-K is the best starting hand in PLO, as it is in Texas Hold’em Poker. However, the next best hand is not A-A-Q-Q.  As is evident, large pairs still hold high values in PLO. But PLO is a game of draws. Even two pairs have a high percentage of showing up, so the hand strength of two pair is not as high as in Texas Hold’em. However, straights and flushes value much more in PLO than in Texas Hold’em. So, one should always root for straight draws or flush draws while valuing their starting hands. 


Further, one must understand the pot odds in PLO versus Texas Hold’em. While in Texas Hold’em, A-A (best hand in Texas Hold’em) has an 83% better chance of winning than K-K (the second best hand in Texas Hold’em), this percentage dips considerably in PLO. In Pot Limit Omaha, the best hand, i.e. A-A-K-K has only 33% winning probability over the next best hand, being A-A-J-T. Therefore, the pot odds vary substantially in PLO. One must keep this in mind while betting.


Pre-Flop Betting

There is a lot of debate regarding pre-flop betting in PLO. A lot of seasoned Texas Hold’em Players who shift to Pot Limit Omaha are of the opinion that pre-flop betting is not a favorable strategy, as the variance increases considerably, but the edge over another hand does not improve much. So pre-flop betting should be minimum. However, the pot odds increase with pre-flop betting. If you are holding extremely strong hands, then it is advisable to build the pot to win more after the river. Extracting value out of strong hands is what poker is all about, be it Texas Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha or any variation of poker for that matter.


Another pre-flop betting strategy is to play only extremely strong hands. It is advisable not to fold the best 30 hands, mentioned above, unless you suspect another player holding a better starting hand. But to play a weak or marginal hand in PLO is an extremely common mistake, as getting value out of them is very hard. The probabilities are extremely high, and bluffing in PLO is entirely a different ball game which only seasoned players should risk. So, play with as little bluffing as possible, and you will have a better chance at value betting and winning the pot.


Tips and tricks to win in Omaha Poker


To begin with you know that instead of two cards, four hole cards are dealt to each player in Pot Limit Omaha. Keeping that in mind, let’s start:


  • Starting hand is important.

As each player is dealt four cards each, it is easier to have a good five-card combination. So, keep a lookout for the starting hand, as it is important. Moreover, there are multiple hand combinations, with each of the two cards that you choose to play with. Although having a pair is important to start with, consecutive cards are equally important. There are more chances of a straight than a full house, but that is not always so. So keep a lookout for the starting hand, and how well you can play it.


  • Poker face is the key.

You have four hole cards. Make sure that you do not keep two aside, or let anyone see your cards. That being said, keep your poker face strong. Having four cards can reveal so much more than having just two cards. With the four hole cards, you can use them in six different ways, and therefore, the probability increases or decreases. More importantly, your chance of giving away your cards by not having a poker face also increases. 


  • Aces are important, but not utmost.

Having aces in Pot Limit Omaha is a good starting hand. However, you need to realize that unless there’s a three of a kind on the board, you have a chance of a two pair at the max. Unless there’s another ace that opens on the board, your aces won’t help you. So realize that having a consecutive set of cards has a higher weight than having aces. Therefore, aces are a wonderful starting hand in Texas Hold’em, it is not so much in Pot Limit Omaha.


  • Play the odds.

There’s greater risk involved in Pot Limit Omaha than in Texas Hold’em Poker. However, if calculated properly, these risks decrease. Realize that while you are dealt four cards in Pot Limit Omaha, the other players are also dealt the same number of cards. So the probability for the other players getting good cards is as good as you getting them. So, analyze the hole cards, and the other players’ moves, and only then play.


  • Try not to bluff as much.

Bluffing is a really good strategy in Texas Hold’em. However, you need to realize that the probabilities in Pot Limit Omaha are much different than in Texas Hold’em. While having two cards gives you an edge over other players, as they also have two cards; having four cards means that every player has six different hole cards, and not four. The probabilities change a lot, and therefore, bluffing is not a recommended technique in Pot Limit Omaha.


  • Play, Play, Play.

The best strategy in Pot Limit Omaha, however, remains to play as much as you can. The more you play the more you understand the game, and the more you can figure out the pot odds. The probabilities and gameplay for Pot-Limit Omaha are completely different than Texas Hold’em Poker, and we cannot stress this too much. So, keep playing, and play as much with good players to realize your own strategies for the game.


Omaha Strategies to Win - 


  • Hand Selection.

There are a total of 30 best hands in Pot Limit Omaha. It is highly advisable to play only those hands in Pot Limit Omaha. PLO is a game of high probabilities, and everyone is sure to have one or the other strong hand to play with. So, be very selective of the hands you play. Another key point to take care is that Pot Limit Omaha has a lot of pot variance. So, it is important that you do not lose your stack due to bad hand selection.


  • Reading the Players 

Reading the players is much more important in Pot Limit Omaha than it is in Texas Hold’em Poker. With the pot variance at extremities, it is easy to lose track of your stack due to bad calling. So, read the players. There is a high probability that players are NOT bluffing, rather than bluffing, so calling just on a hunch is not an acceptable strategy if you wish to win big at PLO.


  • Do Not Get Hooked to an Eight-Way Straight Draw.

PLOs have straight draws opening on the board left right and center, and it is not so uncommon to see 13-way or even 17-way draws. So, when there is a straight draw on the board, do look out for the nuts, and if not that, among the highest straight draws, to even think of bluffing. Otherwise, fold. Folding is the easiest strategy in PLO, and do not be hesitant to use this strategy if you are looking at anything but nuts.


  • Select Your Table Carefully.

PLO is a game that a lot of players think they have mastered, but they are far from it. And you need to judge the players, and select the table accordingly. You always want a few bad players on the table to guarantee good wins. Make sure that you read the players and quit the table, if you are among the weakest players. However, you might be strong on other tables. Choose that table, and give the others a run for their money.


  • Be Weary of Big Bets and Raises.

Bluffing is generally avoided in PLO. This is because of the fact that there are a lot of strong hands in PLO and everyone plays for draws. So, when everyone has a strong hand, they are bound to bet. Therefore, avoid calling big bets if you don’t have the nuts because otherwise, most probably they are playing for nuts.


  • In Multi-Way Pots, Always Draw to the Nuts.

If there is any possibility of multi-way pots, then it is sane to play for the nuts. Everyone has strong hands, and if they are playing and betting, then they think that they are playing for the nuts. So, avoid getting into the action without having nut drawing possibilities. The pot variance may lead you to lose out on your entire stack. 


  • Bet your Strong Draws. And Bet Big.

If you have strong draws, bet. There are a lot of hands that you will not play, and therefore, in a few of them, you will also lose your stack one blind at a time. So, when you get a strong hand, or a strong draw, bet. Value bet, and you will not only earn your stack back, but also win big. So, start betting big and winning big at Pot Limit Omaha!


Run-it-twice in Poker -


Run it twice is a feature on 9stacks.com which means doubling the number of times a situation occurs. The higher the number of trials, the more the likelihood of your actual win rate being close to your expected win rate.

To ace a skill based game like poker, Run It Twice is a great way to reduce variance and determine your skill. As they say, skill in poker is realized in the long run and by RIT we are bringing you closer to the “long run”.


When does Run it twice work?


-Whenever one or more players go all-in in a hand on a table tagged “RIT”

-No more betting action is possible

-There are more cards to be dealt


How does it work?


-All the cards dealt so far will be a part of the outcome.

-The rest of the hand (remaining community cards) will be dealt

-The above step will be repeated one more time

-Chips in the pot will be distributed based on each run


Run It Twice gives players a significant edge because now you can make a bankroll without taking a swing.


Common mistakes in PLO (Pot Limit Omaha) Poker -


Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) is a game with extremely different strategies as in Texas Hold’em Poker. So, the mistakes made in PLO are also quite different. One of the most common mistakes players make is to consider pairs as an extremely strong starting hand. Pairs are only strong if they are coupled with another card on the board, along with another pair on the board, giving a full house. Bluffing is one of the other common mistakes in PLO. A beginner, as a rule, should never bluff in PLO. In Pot Limit Omaha, players should always root for the nut, or they may lose their entire stack to a player who started with nothing. Another common mistake is to discard unconnected cards. These become important in draws. So, a player should not fold when they get unconnected cards that may lead to flush draw or straight draw.


Now that you know a few ways to play Pot Limit Omaha, why not give it a try on 9stacks? It is one of the most favored variations of poker, that gives you a chance to play with the best players around the country, who are trying to win their own hands. 



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Author

Sakshi Misra

A social media strategist and an avid poker enthusiast, she loves taking risks and so is naturally aggressive on the poker table.