Omaha Hi-Lo: Learn the Split-Pot Game with Twice the Fun
If you've recently discovered Omaha Poker and wanted to try a different variation of it, you might want to check out Omaha Hi-Lo. This is a 'spilt-pot' version of Omaha poker, where players compete for both the 'high' and 'low' halves of the pot. It is a tiny bit more complex than Omaha Hold'em. But fear not, this guide will tell you everything you need to know, including the rules, strategies, and where you can play it online.
The Basics of Omaha Hi-Lo Poker
If you're familiar with pot-limit Omaha, you're well on your way to learning the ins and outs of Omaha hi lo rules.
This version of Omaha poker is also referred to as Omaha 8, Omaha O/8 or Omaha High-Low. As the name suggests, it is a split pot game, meaning two players share the winnings at the end of a hand. Much like Pot-limit Omaha, Omaha Hi-Lo involves four hole cards for each player.
...two players share the winnings at the end of a hand.
The primary goal of the game is to make the best five-card hand using two hole cards and exactly three community cards. Different combinations of hole cards and community cards can be used to make separate high and low hands.
Omaha Hi-Lo Poker Rules
As we mentioned earlier, the basic rules for Omaha Hi-Lo are very similar to pot-limit Omaha, or Omaha Hold'em.
A player must create the best hand from his hole cards and the community cards. If one player is still active after all the other players have folded before the showdown, this player wins the whole pot without having to show a hand. However, if there is a showdown (more than one player has called in the final betting round), hands are examined and compared to see who has the best high hand and who has the best low hand. The pot is then shared between these two players.
It is worth remembering that this version of Omaha is usually a fixed-limit game. This means that there is a limit on what players can bet and raise. Only four bets may be raised on each street, which is why the 4th bet is called the 'cap'.
How to Play Omaha Hi-Lo Poker
A standard hand, or round, of Omaha Hi-Lo plays out in much the same way as a game of Omaha Hold'em.
- The Preflop: After the dealer has dealt four cards to each player, there is the Preflop. This is the initial round of betting where players buy into the pot. The action begins with the player to the left of the dealer, known as the small blind, then proceeds left in a clockwise direction. Once players have chosen to bet, the dealer continues to the flop.
- The Flop: During the flop, the dealer deals three community cards face up in the centre of the table. Once the dealer has completed this, another betting round occurs. During this round of betting, players can bet, check, call, raise, or fold.
- The Turn: Once all players have acted, the dealer proceeds to the Turn. He/She deals out a fourth community card. A third betting round follows this in the exact manner of the previous round.
- The River: The final community card is then dealt, in what is known as the river. Again, this final round of betting is exactly the same as the previous two rounds.
- The Showdown: If 2 or more players are still active at this stage of the hand, then the game becomes slightly different than pot limit Omaha. Players reveal two different hands, a high hand and a low hand.
The High Hand
In Omaha Hi-Lo, the high hand is determined exactly the same as in Omaha Hold'em and follows traditional poker hand rankings. You can find these standard poker rankings below.
The Low Hand
If you are new to split pot games, the low hand can be a bit more tricky to explain.
When arranging your low hand, you can use the same cards you have used to arrange your high hand. As long as there are at least two hole cards.
To enter the low hand, you must pass a qualifier. In a standard game of Omaha Hi-Lo, a low hand qualifies for half the pot if it is an 8-low or better (i.e. lower than 8s).
The low hand follows Ace to 5 lowball hand rankings. Aces are counted as the lowest value and flushes and straights are not counted. This makes 'a wheel' (A-2-3-4-5) the strongest low hand possible (which isn't a bad high hand either). The worst qualifying low hand is 8-7-6-5-4.
If there is no qualifying low hand, the high hand 'scoops' the entire pot.
Omaha Poker High Hand Rankings
Like in standard flop games of poker, such as Texas Holdem and Pot Limit Omaha, the high-hand ranking system goes from a royal flush to high card in Omaha high low.
Here are the ranking hands in order from strongest to weakest:
Omaha Low Hand Rankings
Organising a low hand to try and win half of the pot is the biggest difference between Pot Limit Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo.
A player must have a qualifying hand to be eligible to win the low half of the pot. The qualifying low hand must be an unpaired hand of 8 or lower. If a player has even one pair, regardless of whether the card value is lower than 8, the hand will not qualify for the low half of the pot.
The same rules apply relating to a combination of at least 2 hole cards and 3 community cards.
For low hands, aces are considered the lowest-value card.
Flushes and straights are completely ignored for lowball hands. This means that 'a wheel' is the strongest lowball hand (5, 4, 3, 2, Ace).
Omaha Hi-Lo Tips and Hints 💡
There are quite a few strategies to winning Omaha hi-lo. It is always important to have a strong starting hand in which a play can 'scoop' the pot. The best hand to start with is a double ace, 2 and a 3. This hand is very strong as it puts a player in contention for both the high hand and low hand.
If you've been dealt a 7, 8 and 9, it is advised that you fold this hand as it won't qualify for a low hand and make for a weak high hand.
Players also often make the same mistakes in Omaha Hi-Lo. For instance, more often than not, players will call all the way to the river with only a high or low potential. To maximise your chances of winning, you should have hands to compete for both halves of the pot.
Also, many players raise with a starting hand of Ace-2, which in turn makes players fold early on. If you have a starting hand like this, you should see the fold cheaply and draw more players into the pot.
To be profitable at Omaha hi-lo, it is necessary to avoid these mistakes.
Find Casinos to Play Omaha Poker Online
With Omaha poker becoming increasingly popular, players interested in playing the Omaha high-low split version should be able to find online games on our highly recommended NZ poker sites. We recommend that you start off on free-to-play versions of the game to familiarise yourself with the different lowball hands and strategies before advancing to real money games.
Omaha Poker – Summary
While there are some differences between regular Pot-limit Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo, the Hi-Lo version is not a difficult game to learn. Especially if you know the basics of standard Omaha hold'em. The most important thing to remember while playing Omaha Hi lo poker is to understand what are strong hands for the low half of the pot and not make the mistake of only looking at your high hand to win the pot.
YouTube. Pokernews: How to Play Omaha Hi-Lo | Beginners Guide | PokerNews", https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKP_AqcwFYs
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