Omaha Hi-Lo is a popular poker variant played much the same as Omaha Hold’em, except that two players will normally split the pot – the High Hand winner and the Low Hand winner. Both Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo have seen a significant incline in favoritism over the past few months, becoming increasingly popular among live and online poker rooms. Omaha Hi-Lo is a game for 2-10 players, using a standard deck of 52-cards.
Object of Omaha Hi-Lo
The object of Omaha Hi-Lo is to use the 9 cards available to you – your own 4 Hole Cards and the 5 Community Cards – to develop the strongest possible 5-card poker hand; then, using those same 9 cards, develop the weakest possible poker hand. While this may seem fairly easy, there are two distinct rules governing Omaha Hi-Lo.
The first regards hand development restrictions – the player must use exactly 2 hole Cards and exactly 3 Community Cards when developing a High Hand or Low Hand. He may use different Hole Cards and Community Cards for each hand, but it must be the same 2+3 ratio. Just like when playing 365bet, you need to be strategic and careful.
The second rule is that Low Hands must be “8 or Better” in order to be a “Qualifying Low Hand”. Because of the importance of this rule, we will provide a separate section below to define it…
Qualifying Omaha Hi-Lo Low Hand
In order to qualify as a winning low hand, the hand must contain no card higher than an 8. Straights and Flushes are not considered combinations, and Aces are counted as the lowest card when developing and Low Hand. Therefore, the best possible Omaha Low Hand is: A-2-3-4-5.
In the same token, the worst Omaha Low Hand that still qualifies would be 4-5-6-7-8.
Betting Structure of Limit Omaha Hi-Lo
Omaha Hi-Lo can be played in all limits – Fixed Limit, Pot Limit and No Limit. For this tutorial, we will use a Fixed Limit betting structure. Fixed Limit means that the stakes of the game determine the size of all Bets and Raises throughout a hand.
There are 4 betting rounds in Omaha Hi-Lo. For the first two betting rounds, all Bets and Raises must match the low-end stakes, while the second two betting rounds double the required Bet/Raise amount to meet the high-end stakes. For example, a $2/$4 game of Omaha Hi-Lo would require $2 Bets/Raises, increased to $4 Bets/Raises for the final two betting rounds.
The Fixed Limit Omaha Hi-Lo stakes also determine the Small and Big Blind amounts. The Small Blind is always 50% of the low-end stakes; the Big Blind equal to the low-end stakes. A $2/$4 FL Omaha Hi-Lo game would require a $1 Small Blind and $2 Big Blind.
The Small Blind is placed by the player left of the Dealer Button. The Big Blind is placed by the player left of the Small Blind.
All other betting options are detailed below.
Decline to wager, but remain active in the hand. This can only be done when no player has Bet before you in the current betting round.
- Bet: The first wager made in the current betting round.
- Call: To wager an amount equal to the previous Bet.
- Raise: To wager an amount higher than the previous Bet.
- Fold: To surrender your cards and the current pot.
All-In: To bet all remaining chips. An All-In bet must be pushed into a separate pile from the main pot. When going All-In, you cannot win an amount from any player that is higher than your own All-In bet. Note that in a Fixed Limit game of Omaha Hi-Lo, All-In is only an option if you have too few, or just enough chips to Bet, Call or Raise.
How to Play a Hand of Limit Omaha Hi-Lo
In this example hand of how to play Omaha Hi-Lo, we’ll utilize $22/$4 stakes and a Fixed Limit betting structure, as described above.
First, the Small Blind and Big Blind bets are placed. The dealer will then give each player 4 cards, face-down. These are the Hole Cards, to be viewed only by the player they are dealt to. The first betting round begins…
1st Betting Round
Pre-Flop: Betting starts with the player left of the Big Blind. This player may Call the Big Blind, Raise or Fold. Betting continues in this fashion until the Small Blind bettors turn. This player may Call (or Raise) the current bet by adding enough chips to his Small Blind to do so. If this player Folds, the blind bet is forfeit. The Big Blind bettor may also Call/Raise in the same manner. If no player has Raised until now, this player can choose to Check, since his Big Blind already matches the current Bet. Once all players have Called or Folded, the game continues.
2nd Betting Round
The Flop: The dealer will place 3 cards face-up in the center of the table. These are Community Cards, used by every player, in conjunction with their own Hole Cards. The second round of betting commences, in the same fashion as the last, but this time starting with the player left of the dealer button, as there are no more Blind Bets to be concerned with.
3rd Betting Round
The Turn: A 4th Community card is dealt, then another round of betting begins. For this and the next final round of betting, all Bets and Raises must increase to equal the high-end stakes of $4.
4th Betting Round
The River: A 5th Community Card is dealt, followed by the final betting round.
If enough players have Folded at this point to determine a winner, there is no need for a Showdown. Otherwise, the Showdown will commence between all active players. Since there can be two winners, we’ll split it up.
All active players must combine exactly 2 Hole Cards and 3 Community Cards to develop the highest 5-card poker hand (see “poker Hand Ranks” below). The highest ranking hand wins half of the pot.
All active players then combine exactly 2 Hole Cards and 3 Community Cards (they don’t have to be the same cards used in the High Hand) to develop the lowest possible hand (see “Qualifying Low Hand” above). The lowest hand wins the other half of the pot.
No Qualifying Low Hand: If no hand qualifies for a winning Omaha Low Hand, the High Hand winner claims the entire pot.