If you know how to play Omaha Poker, you will find it much easier to start playing Omaha Hi Lo. Being a Poker game with frequently large pots, Omaha Hi Lo has become quite a popular game. Don’t get confused if you have heard another name of this same game. The reason being it is known by different names such as under:
Omaha High Low
Omaha hi-lo split-pot-8-or-better
In this high-low split pot variant of Omaha Poker, you will find players competing for both the ‘high’ as well as ‘low’ halves of the pot. This Omaha eight game is quite similar to Omaha high, with the exception of splitting the pot between best high hand and the best low hand. The number of hands that will be vying for the pot in Omaha Hi Lo remains constant since every hand has about six possibilities – but some of these hands aim for the high end, while some of them aim for the low end. Isn’t this an exciting twist?
Every player in Omaha Hi Lo is dealt four private cards (or hole cards) which belong to only that player. Additionally, there are five community cards dealt face-up on the table / board. Your aim is to form the best five card Poker hand by:
making use of only two cards from the four private ones (hole cards), and
making use of three cards from the table / board
Omaha Hi Lo Rules
This is a split pot Poker game, where the pot is split unless someone scoops it. So, how can you scoop the pot in Omaha Hi Lo? There are two ways:
To aim for both the best low hand and the best high hand
To have the best high hand when there is no qualifying low hand
When it comes to the high hand in Omaha Hi Lo Poker game, it is similar to the winning hand you can have in Omaha high or Texas Hold’em. In a situation where there is no qualifying low hand, the best high hand becomes the winner of the pot. When does such a situation arise of no qualifying low hand? It is possible when you have less than three unpaired cards which are ranked eight or lower on the table. But, how to determine a qualifying low hand?
The below are few rules to follow if you wish to have a low hand qualify for the pot in a game of Omaha Hi Lo Poker:
You need to use five cards from your hand for the low combination
You must have five different cards or unpaired cards that are ranked eight or under
You need to consider aces as low for the low hand (and when it comes to high hand, you need to consider the aces as high)
Your straights or flushes won’t be counted against the low hand and you can make a qualifying low hand which is even a flush or a straight. And this powerful hand can help you to win both the low and high halves of the pot – this is what is termed as a ‘scoop’.
Omaha Hi Lo makes use of the ‘California’ system or ‘Ace to Five’ to rank low hands. So, the best possible low hand you can have is 5,4,3,2,A. This is known as ‘wheel’. Remember that you rank a low hand from its highest card downwards (left to right). To understand powerful low hands, let us check examples below in descending order:
If you have the #1 game from above list in hand, you have the best possible low hand, and you can call this hand as five-low since it’s highest card is five. Similarly, you can call #2 hand as six-low. When two hands have the same highest card, then, you determine the better low hand by going down the ranks. For example, #2 is a better low hand as it is a six-four low as compared to #3 which is a six-five low.
If there is a situation where you show the same best low hand as some other player on the table, then, you can split / divide the low half of the pot for that Omaha Hi Lo game.
One critical rule to remember is that – you are free to use some of the same cards to make your high hand and low hand. For instance, the same two cards from your hole cards can be used for forming the combination for your best high hand as well as the best low hand. The only thing to follow is using two cards from your hole cards and three cards from your community cards – to form your Poker hand of five cards!
How Omaha Hi Lo Works in Real Game Time?
In this Poker game of Omaha Hi Lo, you can determine the player who will be the nominal dealer for the existing game using a marker called as the ‘the dealer button’. Prior to the commencement of Omaha hi lo, the player seated immediately clockwise from this marker button posts the first forced bet – ‘small blind’. The next player seated immediately clockwise to this player posts the ‘big blind’ that is generally twice the overall size of the ‘small blind’. Both the blinds may vary according to the stakes as well as the betting structure under play.
Omaha Hi / Lo Game Stages
Once every player receives their four hole cards, you can start betting in a clockwise direction around the table, starting with the player who is seated immediately clockwise from the big blind.
You (and every player on the table) get the option of playing your hand by either calling or raising the big blind, after watching your hole cards. This action starts from the left position of the big blind, and is considered as the ‘live bet’ for this round. The player who is in that position has the opportunity to either call, fold or raise. Here, if the big blind was 2, then, the player can call with 2, or initiate raise with at least 4. The round shall then continue in the clockwise direction. The betting is likely to continue during every betting round till all the active players on the table place equal bets in the pot.
Once you complete the initial round of betting on your table, the flop will be dealt face-up on the board. This flop is nothing but the initial three community cards that are available for all the players who have not folded. Once again, betting shall resume from the player who is seated immediately clockwise from the button.
When it comes to the limit game variant of Omaha Hi Lo, every bet and raise on the flop is in increment of the small bet. In a 2/4 game, it will be 2.
Once the betting is over for the ‘flop’ round, next up is the ‘turn’, which is the fourth community card in this Omaha Hi Lo game. It is dealt face-up on the table / board, and normal play begins as earlier.
In case of limit Omaha Hi Lo game, the raises as well as bets on the ‘turn’ are in increments of the big bet. In a 2/4 game, it will be 4.
The fifth and last community card ‘River’ is dealt face-up on the board after the turn round is done with. Same process of betting continues for this round like earlier rounds.
At the time when the final round of betting is over, if there are more than one player remaining on the table, the final person who put a bet or raise will show his cards. If there was no bet in the final round, the player positioned immediately clockwise from the button shall show his cards first. So, who is the winner in this Omaha Hi Lo?
The player who has the best high hand wins half of the pot and the player who has the best low hand shall win other half of the pot. If there are similar best hands shown by players, the pot share will be divided equally between them.
Once the pot distribution is completed, you can start a new game of Omaha Hi Lo. Let us look at the various formats in which Omaha Hi Lo Poker can be played.
Omaha Hi / Lo Poker Game Types
No Limit Omaha Hi Lo
As the name suggests, in this format of Omaha Hi Lo, you can bet with all the chips available with you as there is no limit on the same.
The minimum bet will be same as the overall size of the big blind – you can bet as much as you want as there is no limit (depending on the chips you have). The minimum raise needs to be at least equivalent to the previous bet / raise in the same round, and the maximum raise will be dependent on the size of your chips stack.
Limit Omaha Hi Lo
As compared to the ‘no limit’ variant, here you will have particular limit applicable for every game and every round of betting. The big blind and the small bet are identical. The small blind is ideally half the size of the big blind – though it might be larger based on the stakes involved.
Say, in a 2/4 limit Omaha Hi Lo game, big blind is 2 and the small blind is 1. At the same time, big blind is 15 and small blind is 10 in a 15/30 Omaha Hi Lo limit game.
In this Omaha Hi Lo variant, maximum of four bets are permitted for every player during every betting round. Betting in this case is pre-determined and structured. For pre-flop and flop, the bets and raises are equivalent to the big blind, while the same doubles up for the turn and the river.
Pot Limit Omaha Hi Lo
In this Omaha Hi Lo variant, you can place bets equivalent to the amount of chips present in the pot. You can place the minimum bet equivalent to the size of the big blind. However, you have the freedom to bet up to the overall pot size.
The minimum raise amount should be the same like in case of no limit Omaha Hi Lo game. The maximum possible raise is equivalent to the pot size comprising of total amount of the active pot, all the bets on the board, as well as the amount to be first called by the active player before raising. There is no limit on the number of raises permitted.
Mixed Omaha Hi Lo
Here, you have alternate rounds of Pot Limit Omaha Hi Lo game and Limit Omaha Hi Lo game. When the round moves from Pot Limit game to Limit game, the blinds are increased to maintain consistent stake levels.
1) Is Omaha hi lo easy to learn?
Yes, it is easy to learn Omaha hi lo especially if you have already played Omaha Poker.
2) How does Omaha hi lo differ from other poker game variants?
The major twist to take care of in Omaha hi lo is the option to apply for the best high hand and the best low hand. So, the pot is divided / split in Omaha hi lo – and you can potentially one (or more winners) for the best high hand and one (or more winners) for the best low hand.
3) Does Omaha hi lo provide more winning opportunities?
Yes, it definitely does. The pot gets divided into two halves, as players can aim to win the best high hand as well as the best low hand.
4) What makes Omaha hi lo popular?
Omaha hi lo is popular because it offers more winning possibilities with the same cards / hands and with frequently large pots.