Omaha Hi-lo Basics

If you enjoy Texas holdem poker, you may also enjoy Omaha hi-lo. Omaha hi-lo is a community card game like holdem and one that features big pots and lots of action. In addition, there are some very different strategic elements to Omaha hi-lo, so it is sure to provide a new and exciting challenge. If you read the posts in an online poker forum it is evidential that Omaha hi-lo has grown a lot in popularity lately.

As in Texas holdem, Omaha hi-lo features a small blind of half a bet and a big blind of a full bet to start the action, with players calling, folding or raising the big blind and action proceeding from the immediate left of the dealer position on every hand. Omaha hi-lo also features a board of a three card flop, a one card turn and a one card river, with betting before the flop and after each round of board cards.

Unlike Texas holdem, Omaha hi-lo players receive four cards and must use two and only two of those cards with three on the board to make their best five card poker hand. For those used to Texas holdem, this can sometimes be tricky, as they will be tempted to read hands using only one of their cards or three or four of their cards.

Omaha hi-lo is a split game, which means the best hand splits the pot with the “worst” hand. In Omaha hi-lo, aces are low and straights and flushes do not count against you, so the “worst” hand is A 2 3 4 5, also called a wheel. Your hand is determined by your highest card, so the next worst hand is A 2 3 4 6, followed by A 2 3 5 6, etc. Also, you must have an 8 or better to win the low side of the pot, so the worst low hand you can win with is 8 7 6 5 4.

It is important to remember that in a nine handed Omaha hi-lo game, 41 of the 52 cards in the deck are in play. This means that if there is a “nut” or best hand, it is very likely that someone has it or something close to it. If the board reads 6 3 2 K K, an 8 4 in your hand is not going to win you the low. You are going for the best low possible, which in this case would be A 4. Similarly, a full house is likely to win the high hand in the above flop. Since the game is played hi-lo, many hand combinations are possible. In an all high game, it is not that likely that someone would hold a K 6, K 3 or K 2 for a full house, but these could all easily be part of playable Omaha hi-lo hands, for example A K Q 2, K J A 3, or even K Q 6 6.