If you haven’t been to the poker room in a while, you’re in for quite the surprise when you make your next trip.

Along with the legions of Texas holdem players plying their trade, you’ll find plenty of tables where grinders are wielding four hole cards rather than two. These folks are enjoying what high-stakes poker podcasting guru Joey Ingram proudly proclaims to be the “Great Game” of pot limit Omaha.

For those unfamiliar with the game, pot limit Omaha is an offshoot of Texas holdem that provides each player four cards in their starting hand. From there, the game plays out almost identically to Texas holdem in terms of gameplay mechanics.

After receiving your four-card hand, you can choose between calling the big blind total, raising the bet, or simply folding them away. In a hybrid of Limit and No Limit betting, pot limit Omaha makes the maximum bet size at any point equal to the size of the pot. Don’t worry too much about this wrinkle though, as it’s relatively easy to calculate your max bet, and you can always ask the dealer where the pot stands before betting.

Once the field has been culled down to the callers, the dealer then delivers a three-card flop to form the first part of the community card board. Another round of betting commences ahead of the single-card turn, and the action repeats before the river card comes down.

Following one final round of wagers, the players remaining in the hand show down their best five-card poker hand using the traditional Texas holdem hierarchy (high card; one pair; two pair; three of a kind; straight; flush; full house; straight flush; royal flush).

And staying true to its Texas holdem roots, pot limit Omaha requires players to use just two cards from their four-card starting hand in conjunction with the board.

This dynamic turns every flop, turn, and river at a pot limit Omaha table into an intricate puzzle for players to try and solve. Let’s run through an example hand to give you an idea of just how intricate these puzzles can be.

Learning the Ropes of Pot Limit Omaha

You’re playing a standard pot limit Omaha cash game with $1/$2 blinds and you hold the dealer button. Your starting hand is a beauty – Ace of hearts (Ah), Ace of diamonds (Ad), Jack of clubs (Jc), and 10 of clubs (10c). In fact, with pocket Aces plus J-10 suited, you actually hold the second-best starting hand in all of pot limit Omaha.

A player in late position announces “pot” to signal a raise, before sliding out a $5 chip. Remember, betting in this game is capped to the size of the pot, so with $3 already in the middle due to the blinds, plus an assumed $2 call by the raiser, the largest possible raise at this early point in the hand is $5.

The action then moves to you, and with a monster in the hole, you go for a pot-sized reraise. Once again, calculating this maximum amount is simple. As there is now $8 in the pot ($3 in blinds and the opener’s $5 raise), your assumed call of $5 makes it $13 total. That means you can reraise $13 on top of the raiser’s $5, making your pot-sized bet $18.

This aggression folds the action back to the opener, who calls to see a flop of Qc – 9d – 2c rain down.
And this is where the puzzle pieces come into play…

At this point, your best possible hand is a pair of Aces, but you also hold a variety of draws with the Jc – 10c combination. Any club will give you a flush, while a King or an 8 is good for the nut straight.

We’ll skip the convoluted betting details on subsequent streets, but sufficed to say, you’re happy to pump up the action with pot-sized bets and/or raises all the way through. Let’s imagine your opponent is similarly willing to gamble, and the money gets all-in on the flop.

They preflop raiser now shows down their four-card hand, which happens to be the Qd – 9c – Kc – 10s.

At this point in the hand, you’re monster pocket Aces have actually been cracked – which happens much more commonly in pot limit Omaha, by the way – as the villain flopped top two pair. They also hold the Kc – 9c combo for a better club flush draw, limiting your outs dramatically. And for good measure, their Kc – 10s combo gives them a gutshot straight draw which would be completed if a Jack fell.

It may seem like you’re in dire straits here, but after running this exact scenario through an Omaha poker odds calculator, you’d be pleasantly surprised to discover your hand to be only a 30 percent underdog.

And that’s what makes pot limit Omaha so intriguing. Unlike in Texas holdem, where hand equities can quickly flip to 80 / 20 percentages or worse by the flop, pot limit Omaha hands are almost always close when it comes to equity. That’s a fancy way of saying quality hands are generally flipping with one another, creating plenty of opportunity to take a gamble.

Back to the example hand, you watch helplessly as the Ac falls in on the turn, giving you top set but completing the villain’s nut flush. Then, on the river, the 9h hits the felt, improving your opponent to a full house but sending you the huge pot with a better boat.

Obviously, that hand was contrived to show off the myriad possibilities that a pot limit Omaha hand can generate, but you’d be surprised at how often scenarios like this crop up. With four hole cards to work with, you can swap out various two-card combos based on the board texture on all three streets until completing your best possible hand.

Pot limit Omaha players love this aspect of the game, as it creates a multitude of ranges and draws to sort through on each street. It’s one thing to know what you’re holding and/or drawing to – and what your opponent might be holding and/or drawing to for that matter – with a two-card Texas holdem hand, but it’s an entirely different beast when four cards come into play.

Now that you know the basics of pot limit Omaha gameplay, head to the PokerNews Beginner’s Guide for a more involved tutorial on how things work.

But before you do, be sure to check out the list below to find four reasons why every poker player should learn everything you can about the Great Game.

1 – It’ll Make You Better at No Limit Texas Holdem

The most crucial skills needed to excel at Texas holdem are, in no particular order, counting outs, calculating pot odds, and assessing an opponent’s possible ranges.

Well, when you play pot limit Omaha, you’ll be using all three skills on maximum overdrive. If you thought the example hand from above was complicated, just picture going to the flop against two, three, or even four opponents. Or better yet, sit back and soak in the insanity showcased in this wild multiway hand from a pot limit Omaha session filmed for the “Live at the Bike” cash game series.

This hand has it all, including the infamous “wrap” draws that make this game so much fun to play.

In case you haven’t heard about wrap draws, this unique aspect of pot limit Omaha occurs when players hold several possible straight draws at the same time. In a Texas holdem hand, the most straight outs you can hold at any one time is eight, provided by the “up and down” or “double belly buster” straight draws (7-8 on the 5-6-X board, or 7-8 on the 4-6-10 board, respectively).

But in the pot limit Omaha hand linked to above, one player holds Q-J-10-9 on the A-10-8 flop to make a wrap. In this case, he can form a straight when the following outs hit the felt:

  • Kings (4)
  • Queens (3)
  • Jacks (3)
  • Nines (3)
  • Sevens (4)

That’s not a typo folks, this player legitimately holds a whopping 17 outs to hit his straight thanks to the all-powerful wrap draw. Even more importantly, hitting any one of these 17 outs gives the player more than just a basic straight, it gives them the nut variety. When playing pot limit Omaha, anything less than the nuts by showdown is vulnerable, so players prize wrap draws like this and any other combos capable of making the nuts.

Of course, the suitedness of the board will also come into play, as opponents may make a flush on the same straight card – but you get the idea.

Circling back to Texas holdem for a moment, sorting through pot limit Omaha puzzles such as this one definitely has its benefits.
Instead of the cut and dry out counting created by two-card starting hands, the Great Game gives you so much more to think about. You need to quickly and accurately assess not only your own slew of outs – which can change dramatically from flop to turn and turn to river – but those potentially held by your opponents as well.

After a few laps around the pot limit Omaha track, your analytical abilities will improve by leaps and bounds – and those abilities can then be deployed to the better while playing Texas holdem. While folks who haven’t tasted pot limit Omaha are struggling to keep track of outs, both theirs and others’, you’ll have no trouble at all piecing together the much simpler puzzle.

Another way pot limit Omaha can improve your Texas holdem skills is found right there in the game’s name. Because of the pot-sized betting limits, players are constantly forced to track how many chips go into the pot in order to determine their own maximum wager sizing. This may not seem all that important, but within the context of tournament play especially, knowing exactly how your stack – and an opponent’s stack – compare to the current pot is essential.

On a final note, the concept of assessing potential hand ranges your opponent is likely to be holding – based on factors like the board texture, position, and betting – has become engrained in elite Texas holdem game play. Unless you’re able to narrow the villain’s range down to the most likely hands, you’ll simply be flying blind by playing your cards only.

pot limit Omaha trains your brain to narrow ranges by default, as you’ll be facing so many potential combos during any given hand. Once you’ve proven your mettle at four-card poker, head back to the two-card tables and you’ll immediately notice yourself parsing through ranges on an almost intuitive level.

2 – The Action Ramps Up Considerably

The old hook offered by No Limit Texas holdem is the ability to go all-in at any moment. As advertised on TV poker programs like the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and World Poker Tour (WPT), a Texas holdem game is defined by this ability to push every chip forward at a moment’s notice.

Knowing this, many people picture pot limit Omaha to play out on a smaller scale, imagining something more similar to Limit holdem.
And boy are they wrong…

While the initial bets might be capped at small amounts relative to the blinds, all it takes is one or two pot-sized raises to get the ball rolling. Think back to that crazy “Live at the Bike” hand linked to earlier to get an idea of how this works.

The blinds there are $5/$5 (with an optional $10 straddle), so the opening raiser can only make it $20 to go. But after a caller contributes another $20, the next raiser can “pot it” up to $90, which is exactly what they do. After the flop is dealt, the pot contains $292, meaning the first post-flop wager can be equal to that amount – or 60 times the $5 big blind.

As you can see, this almost exponential progression ensures that you’ll be playing for stacks almost immediately. If you don’t believe me, just ask “Chicago Joey” himself. In one of his signature video blogs, Ingram describes in vivid detail losing a massive $16,000 pot playing a medium-stakes pot limit Omaha game with blinds set at just $2/$5 and a $10 straddle.

And if you notice, most pot limit Omaha games include that third blind bet, which is more commonly known as a “straddle.” The straddle can be contributed from under the gun or on the button, but this extra bet – equal to double the big blind – puts even more up for grabs before the flop is dealt.

Between the allure of four-card hands that offer an array of preflop possibilities, and juiced up pots thanks to the straddle, most pot limit Omaha cash games are action-packed affairs defined by big pots and monster hands.

3 – The Games Are Much Juicier

One of the biggest reasons Texas holdem veterans are increasingly bringing their bankrolls to the pot limit Omaha tables is the caliber of play.

Simply put, the economic ecosystem in Texas holdem has become more and more difficult to navigate over the years. Between players adopting game theory optimal (GTO) strategies that approach perfectly correct play, and the advent of computer algorithm assisted “solvers” capable of telling you the best way to approach any situation, everybody is playing above the rim these days.

And it isn’t just the high-stakes beasts and wizards playing perfectly either. Online training courses and instructional material have leveled the playing field, allowing folks grinding the low-stakes insights into how the best in the world wield their cards and chips.
As a result, your typical $2/$5 No Limit Texas holdem cash game at the local card room is become tougher and tougher to beat.

Conversely, with so many new players willing to dip their toes into pot limit Omaha, these games are filled with fish waiting to be caught. Just imagine the old days of Texas holdem played online, when every table seemed to have five players present who barely knew the rules.

These rookies were calling down even though their hand had already been counterfeited, and folding on a scare card after putting most of their stack in the middle. Mistakes like these allowed the proficient players to dominate, giving rise to the fabled “poker boom” of 2003 through 2006. Well, a new boom is currently underway, what with thousands of players trying their hand at pot limit Omaha for the first time. You’ll see newbies flop something like bottom set – a premium hand in holdem that is far less powerful in Omaha – and take it to the hilt, betting it all only to be shown a straight, flush, or full house by the river.

Other common mistakes attributed to Omaha rookies include failing to recognize when the second nuts isn’t enough, playing middle-rank suited connectors that don’t play nearly as well as in holdem, and failing to figure out the intricacies of range assessment.
If you’re able to get a good feel for the game, pot limit Omaha can be a windfall waiting to happen. Between the action-packed pots and tables lined with fish, a skilled player can easily build up a big bankroll through patient grinding.

Of course, their will always be volatility, as this is still poker after all. But if you’re looking for the juiciest games in the poker room, the pot limit Omaha tables are the place to be.

4 – It’s Just Plain Old Fun

One of the instant attraction most new pot limit Omaha players experience is a revived sense of fun at the table. Picture your typical Texas holdem game in 2019. The players here are sullen and silent, staring straight ahead or scrolling through their smartphone. Table talk is at a minimum, and most pots play out in clockwork “raise and take it” fashion based on position and stack size.

The whole thing can feel so robotic at times, and because everybody is playing so well these days, even winning a big pot doesn’t bring much excitement anymore. Shift your attention to the pot limit Omaha tables, however, and you’re in for a treat.

People here are generally bantering about the previous monster pots, talking through the more interesting hands shown down lately, and congratulating one another on big winners.

This shift occurs for many reasons, but the influx of recreational players just their to have a little fun certainly has something to do with it.

Another reason pot limit Omaha players tend to have more fun is that they’re playing more hands. The dreaded solvers have left Texas holdem players with only a handful of premium hands to play if they want to use GTO strategy, so they’re folding four out of five times for the most part.

Meanwhile, the four-card nature of pot limit Omaha ensures most hands are at least playable, especially if you can get to the flop. Once community cards are being shared, any starting hand can materialize into the nuts, so your folding frequency decreases dramatically.

Don’t take my word for it though, get out there and try this beautiful game for yourself – after your first few orbits, you definitely won’t regret it.


Joey Ingram was definitely on to something when he coined his “Great Game of pot limit Omaha” catchphrase. For poker purists, the level of strategic thinking that goes into each and every street of action makes the game a true challenge. And for folks who love action-packed tables and monster pots aplenty, pot limit Omaha never lacks for fireworks.

If you find yourself growing bored with Texas holdem and want to try something new and exciting, find your nearest pot limit Omaha game and dive right in – you won’t be sorry.

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