How to Play Omaha Poker

The rules to Omaha will be familiar to anyone who’s played Texas Hold’em. This variant of the game, a long-standing European favorite, has now become the second most widely enjoyed poker game worldwide. Part of Omaha’s popularity is its heightened action, as the game lends to more frequent calls and raises, and more overall hands played.

Omaha differs from Texas Hold’em in two key ways:

  • Players in Omaha are dealt 4 hole cards rather than 2
  • Determining the winner at the showdown is more involved

Otherwise the game is played almost identically to Hold’em.

# of players: 2 – 10 at a single table.

Syle of play:

Omaha is played either as a FIXED LIMIT or POT LIMIT game but not NO LIMIT.

Omaha can also be played as a HI/LO game.


Where a player is sitting at the Omaha poker table (or their POSITION) in relationship to the order of play is a major factor in deciding the best course of action at each point in any given round of Omaha (a HAND – note: this terms is also used to refer to the actual cards a player is dealt and the best combination of those cards that can be arranged).

To keep the game fair, then, each player takes a turn as the dealer. In the case of online Omaha, in which the dealer is remote or computer simulated, each player takes a turn “representing” the dealer. This is indicated by a white chip called the BUTTON placed in front of the player representing the dealer that turn. The player in this position is often referred to as being on the button.

To figure out who will deal first (so to speak), a single card is dealt out to each player with the button placed in front of the player with the highest card (Ace being highest, face cards increasing in value in the order J, Q, K). If two players have the same high card, either a second card is dealt to determine the first dealer or determination is based on suit, from best to worst: spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs.

After each hand of Omaha the deal rotates one player to the left.

The Blinds

Lastly, before any cards are dealt, the two players to the left of the dealer button must pay forced bets called BLINDS. This too rotates around the table each turn in order to keep the game fair.

The player immediately to the left of the dealer button pays the SMALL BLIND and the player to his left pays the BIG BLIND. The big blind is always double the small blind, and represents the small betting limit (more on that in a moment).

Sequence of Play in Omaha

The Deal

One card at a time is dealt face-down to every player in turn, starting to the left of the dealer and moving in a clockwise direction around the table, until every player has four face-down cards in front of them. These cards are called a player’s HOLE CARDS.

In Omaha, as in Hold’em, your hole cards are the only ones that are solely your own. All other cards in the hand are dealt face-up and are COMMUNITY CARDS which all players at the table can use as they see fit. Therefore your hole cards are the key component in determining how to act at any given point in the game.

Pre-Flop (1st round of betting)

Players now have their first chance to bet on what they believe is the potential of their hand (and/or of the other players at the table). Now is also when a player has their first chance to FOLD, or get out of the hand and contribute no more money to the POT (or the sum total of all money bet in a given hand; the prize for which the players are vying).

Starting with the player to the left of the dealer (and each player in sequence thereafter), one of three choices must be made:

  1. Fold – put no more money into the pot and throw away your hand
  2. Call – put into the pot an amount equal to the big blind
  3. Raise – put more money into the pot than the current bet. This can be double the amount of the big blind or more (depending on the version of Omaha being played: i.e. Fixed Limit or Pot Limit).

Regardless of the version of Omaha being played, the amount of a player’s call or raise is always dependent on the amount of the last bet preceding their turn.

Betting continues in a clockwise direction around the table until each player has acted by either folding out of the hand or wagering the same amount of money as everyone else remaining in the hand.

The Flop (2nd round of betting)

After the 1st round of betting, the first 3 community cards are dealt face-up in the center of the table. This is called the FLOP. After the flop, all players still in the hand (called “live players”) proceed through the 2nd round of betting, starting with the first live player to the dealer’s left.

From this point on in the hand, the first player to bet has one additional betting option not yet mentioned, and that is to CHECK. Checking is passing your right to bet to the next live player in turn to your left. This player and all others in sequence can then check as well, if they wish, but only until one of the players, on their turn, places a bet.

At that point, every live player remaining must either call that bet or raise it (should they wish to continue in the game) or fold, giving up their cards and all claim to any money they’ve already placed in the pot).

The Turn (3rd round of betting)

After the 2nd round of betting is done, another community card is dealt face-up in the center of the table, called the TURN. Following the turn, all live players still in the hand proceed through the 3rd round of betting, the only difference here being that from now on, the betting limit is no longer the amount of the big blind, but rather double that amount.

The River (4th and final round of betting)

After the 3rd round of betting is done, one last community card is dealt face-up in the center of the table, called the RIVER.

At this point, all the cards that will be dealt in the hand have been dealt. As the players proceed now through the 4th and final round of betting in the hand, it is the strength of this hand, that is the best five-card poker hand each player can make with their four hole cards and the five community card showing, that will determine the winner of the pot, should it come down to a SHOWDOWN.

The Showdown

As long as at least 2 live players remain after the 4th and final round of betting, a showdown takes place, in which the remaining live players reveal their hole cards so as to determine which of their final hands is strongest. That player is declared the winner of hand and receives all the money in the pot.

Determining the winning hand at the showdown is based on the following rules:

  • A player’s finished hand must include exactly two hole cards (any two of the player’s choosing) and three community cards (again, any three the player likes).
  • There is no such thing as “three pair”. If a player has three pairs, the highest two are used to make their final hand.
  • If no player has at least a pair, the player with the highest valued card becomes the winner. Cards are valued with the top five highest, in increasing value, being: 10, J, Q, K, A. Suits are valued, from lowest to highest: clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades.

Because a player must use two hole cards to complete their hand, a straight or flush on the board (all five community cards being of increasing order or the same suit, respectively) can only be of value to a player if he has two hole cards that would also complete the hand.

If you're playing a high-low version of Omaha, you have to split the pot into two halves with one half going to the highest hand and one half going to the lowest hand. Learn more about high-low poker games.