How to play Omaha Hi-Lo

While Texas Holdem is the world’s most popular card game, Omaha poker has a tremendous following. In fact, Omaha poker is considered more popular in Europe for cash games than Holdem. A common variant of Omaha is called Omaha Hi-Lo or Omaha 8 or Better. The difference between Omaha and Omaha 8 is the fact that when there is a qualifying low hand, the pot is split between two players. Let’s take a look at how to play Omaha Hi-Lo.

Omaha Hi-Lo will start very similar to Holdem with the dealer being determined by a small disc known as a button. The first two players to the left of the dealer will put in blinds. Blinds are forced bets that create action for the pot. The first player puts in a small blind and the second a big blind. The big blind is double to the small blind amount.

After blinds are posted, each player receives cards. Unlike Holdem, Omaha players receive four cards face down, also known as hole cards. Cards are dealt to each player one at a time starting with the small blind and continuing to the dealer in a clockwise fashion. Once each player has cards, the first player to the left of the big blind acts. Action continues until the small blind. If a raise has not occurred, the small blind may call the big, make a raise, or fold. If the pot is not raised, the big blind is last to act.

After the first round of betting is over, the flop is dealt. The flop is three community cards placed in the center of the table face up. A round of betting then starts with action beginning with the small blind and continuing around until the dealer button. After the betting is finished, the turn is dealt. A third betting round kicks off and when completed, the river is then dealt. One last betting round occurs and then showdown occurs. The remaining players then reveal their cards. The player with the best five card hand wins the high half of the pot. If there is a qualifying low, then the best low hand wins that half of the pot.

Besides the fact that each player gets four cards, there is another key difference of Omaha. In Omaha, you will play two hands from your hand and three on the board. You must play two cards in your hand. In Omaha Hi-Lo, many times there is both a high and low hand. A low hand is a five card hand with five different cards eight and under. Straights and flushes do not disqualify your low hand. You are not required to use the same two cards for both hands. For example, if you are dealt A-K-2-8 and the board falls 3-4-7-K-8, then you would use the K-8 in your hand to make two pair for high and the A-2 in your hand to make the a seven-low. Aces swing in this game, which means that they play both high and low. The best possible low hand in Omaha Hi-Lo is a wheel. This is also a five high straight. You will typically scoop the pot when you catch a wheel.

Another concept to touch on is quartering. There are times where more than one player will share half of the pot. Usually this occurs when more than one player catches the same low. When this happens, that half of the pot is split in half and the players receive a quarter of the pot. This is known as quartering. Sometimes a player will have the best high and tie for low. In this case, they get three quarters of the pot.

When learning how to play Omaha Hi-Lo, you need to keep in mind that you want to be drawing for the best high and the best low. Many new players get into the trap of trying to draw for any reasonable low or reasonable high and they end up losing money with second best hands. You want to be drawing for the nuts or get out in this game. The object of the game is to scoop pots, and it is impossible to do so when you chase inferior hands.
Almost every online poker site has some type of Omaha Hi-Lo game spread. The typical version you will find is Limit Omaha Hi-Lo. However, in recent years, Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo has become popular. So much so that it is regularly offered in live events and even at the World Series of Poker. In most live casinos, you will find Omaha Hi-Lo offered in primarily limit format, but you can usually find a game spread at most casinos. If they don’t offer it, most are willing to do an interest list. In you can always learn more on Omaha Hi-Lo.

Omaha Hi-Lo is a game that offers players lots of action compared to Holdem.  If this version of Omaha is hard for you, you could always check for simple Omaha poker. The pots tend to get hefty in Omaha Hi-lo as the game encourages drawing and bad players also tend to feed the pot. When looking to expand your game, look at picking up Omaha Hi-Lo.

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