Omaha Hi-Lo Explained

Omaha Hi-Lo is a complicated beast and much easier to understand in practice. By using your head you can cash in on slow-thinkers

Think you’ve got the hang of bog standard Omaha? Okay, well it’s time to introduce a twist in the form of Omaha Hi-Lo, a variation that allows two winning hands to share the pot – the best high hand and the best low hand. Take a deep breath…

For a hand to qualify for the low, it must consist of five unpaired cards with the highest being no greater than an Eight (the game is also referred to as Omaha 8-or-better).

As with Omaha (High) you have to use two of your hole cards and three from the board, so for a low to qualify there must be three different cards.

Eight or below on the board. If not, there’s no low and the high hand scoops the whole pot.

The best low hand, the ‘nut low’ is A-2-3-4-5 (referred to as ‘the wheel’ or ‘bicycle’) – straights and flushes don’t count against low hands. So A-2-3-4-6 of hearts would be a 6-4 low and a flush for the high. Remember too, that players can use different cards to form their high hand and their low hand (or same ones) and that you should always be aiming to win both of them.

Judgement Call

For this reason, correctly assessing the strength of all your hole cards is key so you maximise the chances of making the best hands both ways. The best starting hand therefore is A-A-2-3 double-suited and you should push this to the max before the flop. But any low hand with potential high strengths is acceptable.

Winning at Omaha Hi-Lo is usually achieved by playing extremely tight and simply waiting out the opposition, and you shouldn’t escalate the betting without outs in both directions. Players often make the mistake of thinking their A-2 is going to win them half the pot, but other players will often have the same low, meaning that you’ll get ‘quartered’ (and this can amount to less than you’ve put in to play.)

Similarly, as a general rule middling hands like 6-7-8-9 double-suited aren’t worth playing at all as you’ll never win a low with them, and whenever you connect the low will often be out there. Be patient, be vigilant and the pots will come your way.

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