A Winning Omaha Hi Poker Strategy

Ever been skydiving? Maybe you’ve risked gravity-defying roller coasters plunging at breakneck speeds? Either way, you know exactly what we are talking about – adrenaline-loaded entertainment. This is pretty much what it feels like to be playing Omaha Hi Poker, a.k.a. Pot Limit Omaha/PLO games. This poker game has monster pots and massive hands at the showdown. And it’s also got huge draws. One poker ace summed it up beautifully when he said Let’s Gamble (Sammy Farha).

Let’s backtrack a few steps… Don’t go rushing off to the nearest 888 Poker USA table in search of Omaha Hi Poker games without reading this guide first. It’s important to understand the rules of play, and the best Omaha Hi poker playing strategy. It’s one thing forming hands in Omaha Hi poker, it’s another winning with those hands.

Without further ado, let’s kick the tires and light the fires!

What Are the Main Components of Omaha Poker Strategy?

First and foremost, every player in an Omaha poker game gets dealt 4 cards straight off the bat. You’re probably thinking that this is the best way to get bigger swings, and you’re right. It also means something else: the average winning hands in Omaha Poker games are much stronger than in Texas Hold’em games.

Want to know why? In Omaha poker, each hand that you are dealt is comprised of 6 x 2-card hand combinations. In Texas Hold’em, there is only 1. Savvy? If not, let’s assign a letter to each combination to see how this may be the case:

Starting with A-B, A-C, A-D, B-C, B-D and C-D combinations. There are 4 x hole cards in Omaha. With 2 starting cards, in Texas Hold'em, the combination is simply A-B.

Another reason why it’s important to understand strategy in Omaha Hi poker is the number of combinations of winning hands. The way poker hands are compiled can be confusing. If we consider PLO (Pot Limit Omaha), these tips will make things much easier for you to understand, and they also give you all the tools you need to take down monster pots.

#1 Your Starting Hands

Too many Omaha poker players overvalue their starting hands. This is a big problem. It’s especially true with hands like King-King-X-X. Did you know that big opening pocket pairs in Omaha poker are much weaker than they are in Texas Hold’em? If we consider the latter game, a pair of Kings a.k.a. Cowboys – ranks second only to a pair of pocket rockets (Aces).

Let’s rewind to look at the best hands in Pot Limit Omaha and you’ll be surprised at the findings. In Omaha, a pair of Kings ranks in eighth position, and they are also double-suited with a pair of cowgirls a.k.a. Queens. Since Omaha poker is a drawing game, a single pair of Aces just won’t make the grade.

Let’s look at the top 10 listing of best starting hands in Omaha poker:

  • AAKK - Double-suited
  • AAJ10 - Double-suited
  • AAQQ - Double-suited
  • AAJJ - Double-suited
  • AA1010 - Double-suited
  • AA99 - Double-suited
  • J1098 - Double-suited
  • KKQQ - Double-suited
  • KQJ10 - Double-suited
  • KKJJ - Double-suited

Many experienced pot limit Omaha players simply refuse to fold a pair of Aces – no matter what. These guys and gals will play those Aces from any position at the table. They’ll even follow them all the way down the river – irrespective of the circumstances. Be advised – not all Aces are created equal. In most poker hands, Aces are a big hand to play. This is even the case in Omaha poker. It’s important to pair up those American Airlines with other cards that can help form Straights and Flushes. By following this strategy, you can still form a winning hand if you don’t hit a set.

Bear in mind that your opponents in an Omaha poker game will typically be drawing. Even if you end up competing in a multi-way poker pot, and the board reads as follows: 10 of spades-9 of diamonds-6 of hearts-4 of clubs, and you have a pair of bullets, you might even decide to fold.

#2 – Drawing Hands in Pot Limit Omaha

You should be drawing to the nuts as more players compete in Pot Limit Omaha hands. In a typical game of Texas Hold’em, there are 2 basic draws – flush draws and straight draws. In pot limit Omaha, the same draws exist, however each player at the table receives 4 pocket cards, and there are plenty of straight draws and flush draws. Forget about those standard 8-out straight draws and 9-out flush draws – they don’t even make the grade.

Let’s consider the following starting hand: 9 of spades-8 of diamonds-7 of spades-6 of diamonds. If the flop comes in with a 5 of diamonds-3 of diamonds-6 of hearts, let’s see what this means in Hold’em and Omaha:

  • In a game of Texas Hold’em, a hand including 8 of diamonds-7 of diamonds would give you 8 outs to form your Straight, and an additional 7 outs to form a Flush. In total, that’s 15 drawing outs that are available to you in Hold’em.
  • In a game of Pot Limit Omaha, you have 4, 7, 8, or 9 available to you to help you form a straight. The straight outs include 4 x Fours, 3 x Sevens, 3 x Eights, and 3 x Nines. That’s a total of 13. Plus, there are an additional 6 cards available to help form a flush. The grand tally of drawing outs in pot limit Omaha is 19.

Things get a little more complicated when we are talking about multi-way poker pots. Your flush is probably worthless at this point. Somebody has a better draw. Additionally, if a 7 comes on the Turn and then the River is an 8, your Straight could be beaten by a better hand. This includes 10-9.

Nonetheless, this drawing hand is strong, and once you have formed a straight, you’re in the money. Be cautious of bigger flush draws and other cards that can replicate a Straight.

#3 – Wraps in PLO Games

Now that you know that drawing hands rule the roost in Pot Limit Omaha, let’s turn our attention to special draws known as wraps. These draws are the crème de la crème for Omaha Hi poker players.

Let’s backtrack a few steps and find out what wrap hands are really all about, shall we?

An example will help to clarify things for you: If you have a starting hand comprising 10-9-6-5, and the flop is 8-7-3, there are plenty of outs available. In fact, there are 20 cards that can make a poker player chuffed about this hand.

Let’s explore the possibilities:

  • 4 x Fours would give you 4 outs and present the player with an 8-high straight
  • 3 x Fives would give you 3 outs and present the player with a 9-high straight
  • 3 x Sixes would give you 4 outs and present the player with a 10-high straight
  • 3 x Nines would give you 4 outs and present the player with a 10-high straight
  • 3 x Tens would give you 4 outs and present the player with a 10-high straight
  • 3 x Jacks would give you 4 outs and present the player with a Jack-high straight

You’ve probably figured it out by now – a wrap is simply a straight that is wrapped around at both ends. Most wrap hands have fewer outs than this example. But, they can still be just as strong, especially when they go up against a pair or two.

We’ve listed several starting wrap hands and possible outs in the combinations below:

Your Starting Hand

The Flop

The Number of Outs

The Draw Type




13 card wrap




17 card wrap




20 card wrap

Remember that when it is possible to form a flush draw, you must be cautious about drawing to straights. When multi-way poker pots are evaluated on flushed boards, there will always be someone in the hand with that type of draw. It’s also best to draw to the top-end of a straight. Be mindful about playing small wrap draw hands such as 5-6-7-8. If the turn is a 7-high nut-straight, that could quickly disappear on the River card if a 9 or 10 plops on the board.

#4 – How to Play Big Pairs

In No Limit Hold’em games, you have probably rarely (if ever) had your Aces cracked. In Pot Limit Omaha games, you must be prepared to have this happen regularly. In Omaha, Bullets and Cowboys are often ground into the dust. Big pairs can easily be beaten when there are 4 starting cards out of the gates, and plenty of straight and flush draw combinations that are possible.

That doesn’t mean you can’t win with big pocket pairs like American Airlines and Kings. The first step requires you to start with a premium pair such as Aces or Kings. For nut flush draws, it’s preferable to have double-suited aces. These should be paired with other cards like Broadway draws (King-Queen-Jack-10). These types of cards act as great kickers if you don’t generate a full set flop, or the ‘big full’.

  • Pre-Flop Stage Play

Pocket Rockets, a.k.a. Aces are a strong pair, and they have plenty of value in Pot Limit Omaha. With these cards, you should always 3-bet, or raise. Your goal is to get value for your poker hand while removing the cruddy hands from the pot. With a strong draw like a pair of Aces, you should always bang it. If your opponent is on the same flush draw, you’ll be holding the nuts since you’ve got the Aces.

If you’re out of position with weaker Aces, you can still call a small raise, or limp into the pot. Your opponents will be caught off guard if you flop a set. During the pre-flop stage, a lot of action might even yield a fold with a hand like Ace diamonds-Ace of clubs-7 of spades-2 of hearts. Chances are, the remaining 2 Aces in the deck of cards are dead on arrival. Unless you flop one of them, your hand is pretty much toast.

  • Post-Flop Strategic Play

Draw-heavy flops without a big pair should be treated carefully. If you raise, you won’t always have to make the continuation bet, and feed a big pot for the draws in the hand. This is atypical of Texas Hold’em strategy. When we consider multi-way poker pots, it’s more likely that boards with 8-7-3 will feature players with 6-5 in their hands, or 10-9 in their hands. Regardless, you must be cautious. Pot Limit Omaha poker players are shrewd as anything. If you have a suspicion that one of your opponents has an over-pair, like yourself, with the board like the one we’ve just listed, go for it. You may want to check-raise and generate that fold much quicker.

Once all of this is done and dusted, it’s clear that Pot Limit Omaha games are full of draws. When you have big premium pairs, never flop or draw, you should invariably fold, check-fold, or make a run for it.

#5 – Positioning In Pot Limit Omaha

When you’re competing in Pot Limit Omaha games, you can utilize position in 2 effective ways. #1 – you can build a poker pot, and #2 you can control that pot. Once you have mastered these types of skills, you’ll be able to build a bankroll in double-quick time. This will also help you to control the swings in your gameplay!

Let’s look at building a pot and controlling a pot:

  • Building the Pot

With a powerful 20-out wrap draw, you will obviously want to get as many of your chips as possible into the pot. At this stage of the game, your winning hand is good, and the more cash you can pump into the pot, the better for you.

If you find yourself out of position, and you’re up against a gung-ho bettor, always try to check-raise. If you find yourself in position with a big draw, and you’re facing a bet, there’s nothing better than a pot-raise.

  • How to Control the Pot

When you’re in position, there’s no doubt that it’s much easier for you to control the pot size. Draw-heavy boards will often see your EP opponents trying to check-raise you all the way. Don’t fall for such gobbledygook. Go for the Turn card and see if you can improve your hand. Chances are theirs may not improve. It’s off to the races for you at this stage – your opponent is lengths behind your hand, and fast running out of horsepower.

It’s a little bit trickier to play out of position. On dry boards, you don’t need to come out betting pots. But, we should still send an unambiguous message that you are in a dominant position and you know it. Some poker players tend to call with middle pair, and they even call with 3 cards to draw. Don’t simply ignore passive runner-runner players. They tend to do a great job at cashing in with weak 2 pairs on the River. They likely won’t fold to your bet, but they won’t be raising you either. If they don’t form a second pair, you’ll get a pay off. If they make a weak 2 pair, they will typically one bet that and you won’t lose any additional chips.