What is Omaha Hi-Lo?
Omaha Hi-Lo poker has the same basic structure and format as regular Omaha. If you aren't familiar with Omaha then we would advise you to first read through our guide to How to Play Omaha in order to lay a proper foundation, and then pick up here for our discussion of Omaha Hi-Lo below.
Back already? Then let's move on.
Omaha Hi-Lo deals four hole cards to each player and five community cards, exactly as in Omaha. The betting rounds are also the same. The big difference in this variation is that your aim is to make two five-card poker hands instead of just one. Each hand must comprise exactly two hole cards and three community cards.
As stated earlier, one of your two hands must be Hi, and one must be Lo. This means that your Hi hand must be as strong as possible according to stands poker hand rankings. Your Lo hand should be 8-7-6-5-4 or lower. Should no hand at the table qualify as a Lo hand, the player with the winning Hi hand will win the entire pot.
It's important to note that, when making your low hand, you can choose whichever cards you want for the Lo hand as long as you use two hole cards and three community cards. If you want to use the same card twice - such as an Ace, once for each hand - you can do so.
Top Tips for Omaha Hi-Lo
The way you approach any poker game will always have an impact on your chances of winning. We will therefore spend the rest of this guide sharing a handful of key tips that should help you get off to the best possible start.
Study the Game
If you want to play Omaha Hi-Lo on a regular basis, you would do well to study this poker variant in some depth. Knowing standard Omaha is obviously a very good foundation, but studying books that are specific to Hi-Lo and applying what you learn will give you an edge that would take much longer to acquire by trial and error.
Build a Strategy
When building a strategy for Omaha Hi/Lo, it is important to keep in mind what type of player you are. Are you quite laid back or do you have an aggressive approach? Do you prefer to calculate every move, or are you also quite intuitive?
Some key ideas to consider adopting when building a strategy should include:
- Fold most of your hands that include either a 7, 8 or 9. Most of these hands will have a negative expected value.
- When you hit a good flop, you should definitely play more aggressively.
- Play hands that are definitely capable of “scooping the pot.” That means taking down the pot for both the Hi and the Lo hands.
- Consider bluffing on the river occasionally, especially if there isn't a Lo hand out.
These specific tips cover only a few areas. When you build your own strategy, take into consideration the kind of starting hands you intend to play with, how aggressively want to play and how well you are able to read opponents.
Avoid Common Mistakes
In addition to creating a strategy, you need to be aware of common mistakes that players can make when sitting down at an Omaha Hi-Lo table for the first time. Some of the most common mistakes made by beginners include:
- Playing too many starting hands.
- Raising with an A-2 combo in the early position. This forces players to fold instead of allowing them to see the flop “cheaply” and contine contributing to the pot.
- Seeing flops with four middle cards such as 6-7-8-9.
- Calling all the way with only a Hi or Lo potential.
Now with that being said, some of these moves can be tweaked a little to your advantage, depending on your play style. However, these moves are far too costly for most beginners, and so you're better off avoiding them, at least for the time being.
Best Omaha Hi-Lo Starting Hands
If you can memorize the best starting hands for Omanh Hi-Lo, you should be in good shape. The top 10 best starting hands to have are:
The reason for these hands being the best is because they have the best potential to scoop the pot. As we said earlier, this means being able to create the best high and low hand at the same time.
Consider the Odds
Numbers do not lie, so be sure to take the odds into consideration when playing. For example, if you have a hand such as A-2-3-4, there is a 5.6 percent chance that the flop will not contain any low card. There is also a 32 percent chance that it will include one low card, a 45.6 percent possibility that it will contain two low cards, and a 16.2 percent chance that the flop contains all low cards.
If the board has not yet paired on the flop or the turn, it will eventually pair on the river about 27.3 percent of the time. If you have a high hand, your chances of a high flop containing either two or three high cards are at 30 percent.