Omaha Best Starting Hands. A Quick Guide

Jakub Szczotka
12 wrz 2023
6 mins read

When it comes to No Limit Hold'em, it is very easy to pinpoint the best possible starting hands: AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT, 99 and AK-AJ. Visualizing all possible combos on the hand matrix is also very easy. However, things get a little dicey when we talk about Pot Limit Omaha.

After all, you have twice as many hole cards, which result in over 270,000 unique hand combinations preflop (in Texas Hold'em, there are only 1,326)!

Even if you already have experience in Omaha poker, it's not easy to wrap your head around such a considerable number. Fear not; we're here to help and list the best Omaha starting hands and the qualities that make certain combos stand out.

Top 10% of starting hands in No Limit Hold'em is easy to visualize

Equities for starting hands in Omaha are much closer than in Hold'em

What do we mean by that? Things are quite simple in NL Hold'em; whenever you get pocket aces, you will have around 80% equity vs any other hand (e.g. Aces have almost 82% versus Kings). KK and QQ are also massive favorites against a random hand, and with each pip less, that advantage shrinks (side note: the biggest possible preflop advantage in Hold'em is 94.63% vs 5.37% - in the KK vs. K2o matchup).

Things get more complicated in PLO. In Omaha, hands can be ranked by the raw equity vs. every other hand, but this methodology is less accurate than in the Hold'em case. Except for the raw equity, every starting hand has a few qualities that can be used to evaluate it. Let's not get ahead of ourselves and start with the list of the best Omaha hands equity-wise.

The crème de la crème of Omaha hands

The most significant difference to Hold'em is that the best Omaha starting hand - AAKK double suited - has "only" 67% to 33% equity lead vs. all possible hands combined. The same combination has only 52% equity vs. the second-best combination - AAJTds (ds stands for double suited). When we compare AAJTds (leaving the two Kings as possible outs) vs. the best Kings - KKQQds, the lead improves to 65% to 35%, but it's still smaller than Aces vs. Kings in NLH.

It is one of the essential characteristics of PLO - the preflop equities run much closer than in NL Hold'em. What conclusions should you draw from this fact?

Firstly, you are rarely incentivized to go all in preflop (also, the "Limit" sometimes prevents you from doing so). Stacking off with the best holdings is profitable in PLO; it is just less profitable than in Hold'em. Most of the money in PLO lies in the postflop spots, in which you often capitalize on your opponent's preflop mistakes.

Secondly, a proper preflop selection of hands is vital. Nowadays, even mediocre players have a rough idea of what to open/call/raise at specific positions in both Hold'em tournaments and cash games. The same cannot be said about PLO. When you are inexperienced, you can get carried away with opening or calling hands just because your four hole cards look good according to NLH standards.

Thirdly, the importance of position is significant. Opening and defending too wide of a range while playing it out of position is a recipe for disaster.

Adding to the fact that there is no single hand chart to visualize all the possible combos, it is easy to conclude that learning the good PLO preflop strategy, let alone postflop, is impossible. What to do if the circumstances are so unfavorable? You have to outsmart your opponents. The good news is that the playing field is even, and an even better one is that the more opportunities your opponents have to commit a mistake, the bigger edge you can create.

A way to visualize your possible holdings in a particular spot

Pot Limit Omaha preflop is all about categories

The comprehensive optimal preflop PLO strategy is an extensive topic, and it takes a lot of work with poker tools (like PLO Genius) to master it. Of course, memorizing all possible preflop decisions in Pot Limit Omaha is virtually impossible, so you must learn how to quickly and accurately evaluate the hands you are being dealt.

Here's our guideline; the first step in reducing the distance between a Pot Limit Omaha newcomer and better players.

To keep your preflop opening frequencies in check, you should think about three factors before you decide to put the chips into the pot:

  1. Nuttiness
  2. Connectedness
  3. Suitedness


The average Omaha hand that wins on showdown will be stronger than the average hand in Hold'em. The reason is simple, four hole cards give you much more possibilities to make a strong hand. You should always remember that!

So, whenever you decide to raise or call with a hand - prioritize those that can make a highest-ranking hand. Unless you are playing heads-up, you should mostly aim at making nuts.

That's why you should value having an Ace high flush draw and the best straight draws possible so much. These components allow you to cooler your opponents rather than vice versa. While any flush in Hold'em is usually good at showdown, in Omaha, especially in multiway pots, it's quite likely that if you do not have a nut flush, someone else has. The same goes for sets. The situations in which multiple players hit two pairs, set, three of a kind or a full house are not rare, so you favor hands that will dominate your opponents' holdings!

Since it's easier to hit a nut flush in PLO, having an Ace in a certain suit has additional merit - you have the most important card in the deck when the flush draw completes, allowing you to bluff effectively.


Barring the ones with high pairs, the best Omaha starting hands are heavily connected. Combinations like KQJT, JT98 or even JT87 realize their postflop equity exceptionally efficiently. Such hands usually hit poorly or very well, making them simple to play.

Whenever you evaluate your holding, beware of hands with so-called "danglers". Dangler is a card that does not connect with your other cards (like 5 in KQJ5) and weakens your hand's overall value.


What's even better than connected Omaha hands? Double suited hands that are connected. Suitedness is as important as connectedness. Having a flush draw helps in many cases, and occasionally you'll be holding two flush draws on the turn. In such an instance, even if one of your flush draws is not nutted, denying potential flush draw outs to your opponent will still be useful.

Generally speaking, the lack of possibility to make a flush causes only the best unsuited hands to be playable in the full ring Omaha games. Also, remember that having more cards in the same suit cuts the number of your outs, so the ideal situation is to have precisely two cards in the same suit or a double suited hand.

If you follow these basic criteria, choosing which hands to open in Omaha will be easier

Of course, raising first in is only a part of the preflop strategy, but solid fundamentals are necessary for such a complex game (and the ability to identify marginal hands at every stage of preflop play is a must).

Since PLO is played mostly in a cash game format, another thing to consider is the rake factor. The bigger the rake is, the fewer hand combinations you can profitably play preflop. Stack sizes are important as well - they also influence which preflop holding is open and which is a fold.

As you can see, there are many things to evaluate, and due to the number of variables, even the best players need to practice a lot to keep a strong edge over the competition.

And that's precisely why we've created PLO Genius. Our poker software will help you keep your preflop game sharp completely for free. Check it out yourself!