Beginners Guide to Omaha Hi-Lo
Omaha Hi-Lo, sometimes called Omaha Hi-Lo 8-or better is a poker game with a twist! At showdown the pot is split between the highest poker hand and the best 'low' which is a hand containing 5 different cards 8 or lower. Omaha high low can be played with a fixed limit betting structure or using pot-limit betting - where each player can bet up to the size of the current pot.
In Omaha Hi-Lo Poker each player is dealt 4 starting cards. The flop, turn and river are dealt in the same way as in Holdem Poker. At showdown each hand must be made of exactly 2 cards from your starting hand and 3 cards from the community cards board. The high hand and the low hand can each use 2 different cards from your hand. For example:
Your Starting Hand = A-A-2-3
Community Cards = A-3-4-6-J
Your high Poker Hand = A-A-A-6-J (Trip Aces using A-A from your hand and A-J-6 from the board)
Your Low Poker Hand = A-2-3-4-6 (A 6-Low using A-2 from your hand and 3-4-6 from the board)
Around 30% of the time the community card board will not contain 3 different cards 8 or lower. In this case no low hand is possible and the whole pot will go to the highest poker hand.
The golden rule in Omaha Hi-Lo Poker is to try and win both the high and the low sides of the pot with every hand you play. Taking both sides of the pot is called 'Scooping', this should be your objective and should largely determine your starting hand selection.
You actually need to play fewer hands in Omaha Hi-Low than in the high-only version of Omaha. Starting hand selection is very important in this form of poker - the fact that each opponent has 4 cards in their hand means you can only draw to the highest and lowest possible hands after the flop. It can become very expensive to draw to a 7-low and a pair of kings only to find that one opponent has a better low hand and another is holding Aces for the high.
Good starting hands in Omaha Hi-Lo should mostly contain an ace and at least one other low card. If another card shares the same suit as the ace this is an added benefit - those same cards can be used to make a low hand and a flush for the high. Hands containing only high cards are sometimes playable before the flop in Omaha Hi-lo, however if they miss the flop and low cards appear then they should usually be discarded quickly.
An ever present risk in Omaha Hi-lo is sharing one side of the pot with an opponent, while another player takes the other side. This usually happens when 2 or more people get the same low hand and is known as being 'Quartered'. An example would be that you hold A-2-J-J and your opponent holds A-2-K-K and you both make a good low. Now you split the low pot and your opponent gets the high. For every $1 you put into the pot you get exactly 25c back. This can be even more of an issue if you get caught in between 2 opponents raising and re-raising each other. It can sometimes be best to exit a hand early if you suspect you are in danger of being quartered.
Good luck at the tables!
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