How to play Pot Limit Omaha – Rules, FAQ, Strategy and Tips



Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) and No Limit Hold Em (NLHE) are two very similar games – they both rely on hole cards combining with community cards (the flop, turn and river) to make a hand and both have a dealer button and blinds to push the action. However, there are a few stark differences that differentiate the games – Omaha is dealt 4 hole cards instead of two, has a cap on how much a person can bet and requires players to use exactly two of their hole cards during showdown.


Basic Rules

PLO is dealt with four cards face down (the hole cards) starting from the dealer button in a clockwise direction. The button and blinds are positioned and move in the exact same way as they do in No Limit Hold’Em: with the small blind to the left of the button and the big blind next to the small blind.


Normally, PLO games are categorized by their blinds in two formats. Examples: PLO $2/$5 (the small blind is $2 and the big blind is $5) and PLO500 (the number displayed is 100 times the big blind). Once the hole cards are dealt, the action begins and people can bet.

Betting rounds in Omaha are the same as they are in NLHE: pre-flop, flop, turn, and river. The rounds end when two circumstances are resolved:

1) All players in the hand have made an action.
2) All players have either put the same amount of money into the pot or have folded.

Betting and raising in PLO though, are different than in NLHE. In no limit games, players can raise as much money as they have in their stack but, in Pot Limit the maximum players can bet/raise is the size of the pot plus the size of your call. For example, if the small blind (SB) is $10 and the big blind (BB) is $20 then the most UTG can raise is SB+BB+UTG call = 10 + 20 + 20 = $50. So, the UTG player can raise to a maximum of $50. Online poker rooms display the maximum amount a player can bet and live poker rooms have dealers count the pot size for players upon request.


Action begins with the player Under the Gun (UTG), the player to the left of the big blind. They have the choice to:

1) raise (Increase the minimum bet)
2) call (match the biggest bet i.e. the big blind)
3) or fold (discard their cards and sit-out until the next round

Once the UTG players make their decisions, subsequent players have these same 3 options. The “call” amount varies depending on how much a previous player has raised.


The second round of betting begins with the first three community cards coming out. Players make combinations with their concealed hole cards and the community cards and ensue another round of betting. Unlike preflop, the flop action starts with the person left of the button and continues clockwise.


A fourth community card is revealed and players make combinations with two of their hole cards and three of the four community cards. Unlike in Hold’Em, in Omaha players must make a combination of exactly two hole cards and three community cards to form a hand.


The fifth and final community card is revealed and each remaining player’s 5-card hand combination is completed. Players commence the final round of betting before heading to showdown.


Betting rounds are over and remaining players will now expose their cards in order of the last person that made a raise/bet and if no one made a bet, the person to the left of the dealer must flip over their cards first. The dealer makes the best 5 card combination using two of each players hole cards and three community cards to determine who has the best hand; the player with the best hand wins the pot. Following showdown, the button moves clockwise to the next person and a new hand begins.

Example: Player 1 has AdAc10sAs and the board is Jd10d4s 10h Qd then Player 1’s best combination of two hole cards and three community cards is trips: Ad10s10d10hQd


How are Omaha and NLHE different?

1) Omaha is dealt 4 hole cards – Hold Em has two
2) PLO has a cap on how much a person can bet – NLHE doesn’t
3) PLO requires players to use exactly two of their hole cards during showdown – NLHE allows any 5 card combination of community cards and hole cards.

What is the best starting hand in Pot Limit Omaha?

Double suited, connected and paired hands are among the best types of hands in PLO: AsAdKsKd is the best starting hand.

What is the strongest hand in Pot Limit Omaha poker? What are the nuts?

The best five card combination a player can have is a royal flush AhKhQhJh10h

How many cards can you use in PLO?

You must use 2 hole cards and 3 community cards to make a 5 card hand.

How much can I buy in for?

Typically between 60 and 100 Big Blinds


Contrary to what some may think, Omaha did not originate is the city of Omaha, Nebraska. The modern version appeared in Las Vegas casinos in 1982. The early precursors of Omaha were played in Chicago and Detroit but had a starting hand of 5 cards instead of four. Players eventually learned that 5 cards didn’t allow for as many players to participate, and that less than 4 cards didn’t create enough action so, they eventually settled on four. The poker boom happened in 2003 and PLO was overshadowed by No Limit Hold Em for several years. It wasn’t until the early 2010’s that the game bounced back with huge popularity. This was due to a couple factors: NLHE became a tougher game to beat and PLO had more variance and fun for the newer players. Nowadays, PLO is hugely prevalent and is continuing to climb in popularity.

Notable PLO Professionals

Phil Galfond

Galfond made his name in online poker on FullTilt on Pokerstars at $200/$400 high-stakes games at NLHE and PLO under the aliases “OMGClay Aiken” and “MrSweets28”, respectively. With several WSOP bracelets in the bag, including a 2008 PLO $5000 buy in win, and over 8 million in total cash game earnings, Phil Galfond is a powerhouse in the PLO world.

David Benyamine

A Frenchman, Benyamine’s early successes were in professional tennis and billiards. Do to severe shoulder pain, he was forced to retire. He first discovered poker at age 12 and is now known as a PLO specialist. He has earned roughly 7 million dollars in casino winnings with several titles and cashes under his belt, including a first-place finish in the WPT PLO Triple Chance in 2012.

Patrik Antonius

Originating in Finland, Patrik Antonius is a world renown poker player. Arriving on the big tournament scene in 2005, he was quick to capture attention with top finishes in the EPT and WPT. His specialties are heads-up and PLO where he had a record breaking $1,356,946.50 pot in PLO versus Isildur1 (Viktor Blom) in 2009. Notably, he plays the highest stakes cash games and tournaments, live and online, where he finished 2nd in the $25,000 heads-up Pot Limit Omaha Championship 2008, on Full Tilt Poker.

Rising Popularity

Pot Limit Omaha is a great game to learn to play now because of its increasing popularity. Since players start with four cards instead of two, there are many more strong hand combinations to be made. This has lead more newbies to be interested in the game as well as Omaha being an “action” game. Its popularity grew throughout the world within casinos in the Americas, Europe and Asia and poker circuits such as the APT, WPT and WSOP regularly running PLO tournaments. It’s important to start playing Omaha now more than ever to stay ahead of the learning curve; with so maybe newbies entering the game, now is the best time to study and learn PLO strategy.


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