How to Play Pot Limit Omaha

Pot Limit Omaha is perhaps the second most-played format of poker in the world, trailing only No Limit Hold'em in terms of popularity.  Proponents like the action and the strategic complexity that comes along with Pot Limit Omaha, but new players can sometimes get tripped up on the basic mechanics of the game.  If you're looking to learn the game, you've found a solid place to start with our guide to the rules of Pot Limit Omaha.

Pot Limit Omaha: Key Terms

Before we talk about how to play the game, here are some key terms and definitions that will help make our discussion more efficient:

  1. PLO: The standard abbreviation for Pot Limit Omaha.
  2. Bet the pot: Since you can only bet up to the size of the pot in PLO, saying "I bet the pot" or "I raise the pot" is saying "I want to make the maximum bet possible."
  3. Blinds: Like No Limit Hold'em, PLO forces two players to put in "blind" bets before anyone gets cards.  These forced bets are called the small blind and the big blind, or SB / BB.  Some PLO games (especially live games) are played with a forced third blind called a straddle, but this blind is not a part of the standard rules for PLO.
  4. The button: A disc or other symbol that represents the rotating dealer position.

Pot Limit Omaha: Basic Gameplay

Pot Limit Omaha plays just like No Limit Hold'em except for two crucial differences:

  1. In PLO, you get four hole cards instead of two.
  2. In PLO, your maximum bet at any point is limited to the current size of the pot.  You can't go "all-in" in PLO unless your stack size is smaller than the size of the pot.


Otherwise, the mechanics of the two games are identical, so you can refer to this guide to the rules for No Limit Hold'em for a more complete breakdown of PLO gameplay.  Abridged version:  Players receive four cards each, face down followed by a betting round.  The remaining players move to the flop, where three shared cards are revealed followed by betting.  Next comes a fourth card (the turn) and a third round of betting, followed by a fifth card (the river) and a final round of betting. 

Pot Limit Omaha: How You Make a Hand

Players used to hold'em often have trouble internalizing this aspect of PLO.  When you're playing Pot Limit Omaha, you must use two cards from your hand and three cards from the community cards to make your five card hand.  You can use any combination of cards following this rule, but the rule itself is rigid.  A common situation where players become confused about this rule:  Let's say you hold the ace of hearts in your hand and the board has four hearts on it.  You have no other hearts in your hand besides the ace.   Do you have a flush?

In hold'em, you would have a flush, but in PLO you cannot make a flush in the situation described above.  Remember - two from your hand and three from the board.  For this reason, it's actually terrible to be dealt three of a kind of four of a kind to start in PLO - you can only use two of those cards.

Pot Limit Omaha: Betting Rules

Thanks to a technicality that new players often overlook, betting and raising the pot can be a trickier task than you might think.  Let's say you're playing PLO and are in a hand with just one opponent remaining.  The size of the pot is $100, and your opponent bets $100.  How big a raise can you make?  If you said $200, you're wrong - but don't feel too bad about it, as everyone struggles with this part of PLO at the outset.  Your actual raise size is $400 total.

Why?  Because the size of the pot when you make your raise isn't actually $200.  The sequence of betting goes like this: Your opponent bets, you first call that bet and then you raise.  Your call counts toward the size of the pot for the purposes of figuring out how big a bet you can make.  That means there's actually $300 in the pot, so your total bet would be ($100 call + $300 pot-sized raise) $400.

With the basics of PLO firmly under your belt, it's time to visit some of our top site lists to find your best option for playing Pot Limit Omaha at an online poker room.