Omaha Hi/Lo, also known as "Omaha High Low," "Omaha H/L," "Omaha/8," or "Omaha 8-or-better," has grown incredibly popular all over the world due to its frequently large pots. It is an interesting and exciting poker type derived from Omaha Poker. Omaha Hi/Lo shares similarities with regular Omaha poker, the only difference is the pot split between a high hand and a low hand.
Omaha Hi/Lo Poker Rules
Omaha Hi/Lo is similar to regular Omaha Poker. Hence, learning the Omaha Hi/Lo shouldn’t be a problem if you know how to play the regular one. In general, they use the same Omaha poker rules. Each player is dealt with four-hole cards, as in any type of Omaha poker. Players must choose whether to check, bet, raise, or fold as each community card is revealed in the betting rounds to create the best five-card that includes exactly two hold cards.
Omaha Hi/Lo is so named because the best hand for high and the best hand for low split the pot. To create your high hand and low hand, you may combine two cards from your hand in a variety of ways, but for each hand, you must use exactly two cards from your hand and three community cards from the board – neither more nor less.
The poker hand ranking system in Omaha Hi/Lo will include the low hands — the high hands are the same as most of the poker types. A low hand in Omaha Hi/Lo must contain five different cards, all of which must be ranked eight or lower, in order to be eligible to win the low portion of the pot. This game is played with an “8-or-better” qualifier. Low hands are determined in Omaha Hi/Lo exactly the same way they are in 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo. If there isn’t a low hand that qualifies, the high hand takes home the entire pot.
The “Ace to Five” or “California” system is used in Omaha Hi/Lo to rank low hands. The best possible hand is a “wheel”: 5, 4, 3, 2, A. Straights and flushes do not count against a hand, and Aces are always low in reading the low hand. The sample qualifying low hands listed below are ranked from least powerful (#1, will hardly ever win the low half of the pot) to most powerful (#10, the nuts).
- 8, 7, 6, 5, 4
- 8, 7, 6, 5, 3
- 8, 6, 4, 2, A
- 8, 4, 3, 2, A
- 7, 6, 5, 4, 2
- 7, 6, 5, 2, A
- 7, 5, 4, 3, 2
- 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
- 6, 4, 3, 2, A
- 5, 4, 3, 2, A
Keep in mind that a low hand is always ranked from highest to lowest. Due to the fact that hand #9’s highest card is a 6, it is known as a “Six-low.” Hand #1 is a “Eight-low,” and Hand #5 is a “Seven-low.” Going further down the ranks allows you to distinguish between close low hands in poker slang, so hand #9 would be referred to as a “Six-Four low,” which is better than hand #8, which is a “Six-Five low.”
A qualifying low hand that is also a straight or a flush is a very potent hand that has the potential to win both the high and low portions of the pot. Keep in mind that straights and flushes do not count against your low hand. That’s referred to as a “scoop.”
Betting limits of Omaha Hi/Lo
Like regular Omaha Poker, there are three main types of betting limits in Omaha Hi/Lo.
- Pot Limit Omaha Poker – In this version of Omaha Hi/Lo, the small blind is equal to the minimum bet, but the maximum bet is always the pot size. A raise must be at least as much as any bet or raise that has come before it in the same round. For instance, if the first person to act wagers $5, the second person must match that wager with a minimum of $5 (for a total wager of $10). Maximum raise: The pot size, which is determined by adding the active pot’s value to the sum of all bets placed at the table as well as the amount that the active player must call before raising. Note that there is no ‘cap’ on the number of raises allowed.
- No Limit Omaha Poker – The big blind size serves as the minimum wager in No Limit Omaha Hi/Lo, but players are always free to place additional bets up to their entire stack. No Limit Omaha Hi/Lo requires a minimum raise of at least equal to the previous bet or raise in the same round. The maximum raise depends on your stack size (your chips on the table) and there is no “cap” on the number of raises in Hi/Lo.
- Fixed Limit Omaha Poker – In this version, the bets are placed in pre-set, structured amounts. All bets and raises both before the flop and after it are the same size as the big blind. All bets and raises double in size on the turn and river. Each betting round in Limit Omaha Hi/Lo allows each player to place a maximum of four bets. This consists of a bet, a raise, a re-raise, and a cap (final raise).
Dealing of a Hand in Omaha Poker
A marker known as “the button” or “the dealer button” in Omaha Hi/Lo designates which player is the nominal dealer for the current hand. The first forced bet, known as the “small blind,” is placed before the game even starts by the player starting clockwise from the button. The “big blind,” which is typically twice as large as the small blind but can vary depending on the stakes and betting structure being used, is posted by the player who is immediately clockwise from the small blind.
The big blind is equal to the small bet in limit games, and the small blind is typically half as big but may be larger depending on the stakes. The small blind is $1 and the big blind is $2, for instance, in a $2/$4 Limit game. The small blind in a $15/$30 Limit game is $10, and the big blind is $15.
The size of the blinds in Pot Limit and No Limit games are used to identify the games (for instance, a $1/$2 Omaha Hi/Lo game has a small blind of $1 and a big blind of $2).
Each player is now dealt four hole cards. Starting with the player “under the gun,” betting action moves clockwise around the table (immediately clockwise from the big blind).
The Betting Options
Like other variations of poker, Omaha Hi/Lo allows players to fold, check, bet, call, or raise. Which alternatives are actually available depending on what the previous players did.
- Fold — To give up on your current bets by folding your cards face down on the table and giving up. Only fold if you believe your hand is too feeble to stand a chance against the others.
- Check — To pass. If you don’t take any action (bet), there is nothing to call. You can choose to “check” if you don’t feel like placing a bet. The action will return to you to call, fold, or raise if there is further action from your fellow players in the betting round.
- Bet — Depending on the quality of the hand, the player places a specified quantity of bets (or bluff if they are feeling adventurous). The amount must exceed the big blind.
- Call — To put in the bare minimum of the bet amount into the pot required to keep a hand active.
- Raise — To bet more than what is necessary to call, requiring other players to do the same.
After receiving the hold cards, each player has the option to call or raise the big blind with his hand. The big blind, which is a “live” bet in this round, is where the action starts to the left of it. The choice is the player’s to fold, call, or raise. For instance, if the huge blind was $2, calling would cost $2, and raising would cost at least $4. After that, the table is circled clockwise.
On the board, three cards are now dealt face-up. This is referred to as “the flop.” The three cards that appear on the flop in Omaha Hi/Lo are community cards that can be used by any remaining players in the hand. Starting immediately clockwise from the button, bets on the flop are placed by the active players. The betting options are the same as pre-flop, but if no one has placed a bet before, players may choose to check, which moves the action clockwise to the next player.
The “turn” is dealt face-up on the board after the betting for the flop round is over. The turn is the fourth community card in Omaha Hi/Lo. The next betting round starts with the player who is currently active and moves clockwise from the button.
The “river”, which is the fifth and last community card is dealt face-up on the board once all betting for the turn round has concluded. The same betting guidelines that were described above for the flop and turn also apply for this round of betting, starting with the active player immediately clockwise from the button.
If more than one player remains after the final betting round, the remaining players reveal and compare their hands to decide who the winner or winners are. In Omaha, Half of the pot is won by the player with the best five-card hand for high, and the other half is won by the player with the best five-card hand for low.
Keep in mind that in every Omaha game, players must combine exactly three cards from the board with two (and only two) of their four hole cards to make the best poker hands. The players with the best hands will split the pot’s high and low shares equally if there are identical hands. The best hand(s) for high wins the entire pot if no hand qualifies for low (i.e., is a “eight low” or better).
A new hand of Omaha is ready to be played when the pot is given. New hands are dealt to each player, the button now advances clockwise to the following player, and blinds and antes are once more posted.