The Rules of Omaha Hi-Low

What is Omaha Hi-Low?

After Texas Hold'em and Pot Limit Omaha, Omaha Hi-Low is probably the third most popular poker variant. Several names are used to describe this variant : Omaha Hi-Low, Hi-Lo at all, Omaha-8, Omaha-Eight-Or-Better, etc. All names refer to the same variant. In order to simplify this article, we will refer to this variant as Omaha-8

The basics and the unfolding of an Omaha Hi-Low hand

The basics are the same as in almost all poker variants: there is a dealer, two blinds, tables consist of 2-10 players, the action is clockwise, there is preflop action, flop action, river turn action, and when necessary, there will be a showdown, when the people still in the hand will have to show their cards to determine who wins the jackpot

Blindes

The blinds are determined by the position of the dealer. The player immediately to the left of the dealer will be the small blind and the player immediately to the left of the small blind will be the big blind. The big blind will always be (with some exceptions) twice the size of the small blind

Distribution of cards

Each player is dealt 4 cards. The distribution is clockwise starting with the small armour. Cards are dealt one by one until all players have received 4 cards. The private cards of each player must of course remain hidden

Turn of speech

After the cards are dealt, the floor is given to the Under The Gun player (the player to the left of the big blind). The turn to speak is clockwise. The last player to speak after the cards are dealt is the big blind (this is the preflop action)

Flop and post-flop

The action takes place exactly as in the Hold'em games. The dealer is always the last player to speak on all streets (flop, turn, river). After the river, there will be the felling to determine the winning hand. The rank of the hands is the same as in Hold'em

How to determine the best hand?

This is where it's different from the Omaha Pot Limit. Omaha-8 is played like Omaha Hi; each hand must have a high, i.e. a stronger hand. The rank of the hands is the same as in Hold'em or Omaha Hi. The difference is that there will be a second pot in play if the common card board contains 3 or more cards with a value of 8 or less. For example, if a board is A-2-5-K-Q, there will be a "low" pot to play in addition to the high. Don't forget that the ace is considered a 1. The ace is stronger than the king as in most variations, but will count as a 1 to determine the low. Note that for there to be a low, at least 1 player must have 2 cards in different hands from the three cards that make up the low on the board. For example, if a player has A-2-6-K in his hand, his low will not be considered since he cannot make up 5 different cards of 8 and under

To use our example from Table A-2-5-K-Q, a player could have a hand like 3-6-A-A to form a low. The best possible low (the nuts low) is what we call the wheel. The wheel is: 5-4-3-2-A (the low is often written from the highest card to the lowest card). Our higher player would therefore have a triple ace for his high and 6-5-3-2-A for his low

In closing, remember this: all Omaha-8 hands will have a Hi at slaughter, but not always a low. Even if the common table is A-3-4-5-7, there will not necessarily be a low at slaughter

When at least one player qualifies for the low, the final pot will be divided into two equal parts; the player with the best hand (hi) will get 50% of the pot and the player with the best low will get the other 50% of the pot. When two players have the same low, they will split half of the pot (i.e. 25% of the total prize pool)

Determining the best low at the beginning can be difficult. As a reference, here are 5 types of possible lows, ranked from the strongest to the weakest

  • 5-4-3-2-A
  • 6-4-3-2-A
  • 6-5-4-3-2
  • 7-5-4-3-2
  • 7-6-5-2-A

Similarities with the Omaha Limit Pot

  • The unfolding of the hands is the same (except at slaughter)
  • There is always a play high in every hand
  • Each player must use exactly 2 cards from their private cards to make up their hand and exactly 3 cards from their community cards to make up their high or low

Differences with the Omaha Limit Pot

  • When the table shows at least 3 cards of value 8 and under, players may play for the low (if at least 1 player can complete the low with two of his or her private cards)
  • When a low is possible and at least one player qualifies, the player with the best hand (hi) will only be entitled to 50% of the pot if he does not have the best low

Some tips and basic information about Omaha Hi-Low

Just like in Omaha Hi, double-assorted hands gain a lot of strength over unmatched hands. The best possible hand for Omaha-8 is A-A-2-3 double-assorted, e.g. Ah-As-2h-3s. Thus, the hand will be able to do the nuts flush, the nuts quad, the nuts straight, the nuts straight-flush. The hand has enough to win a high and a low. It is very important to keep this in mind; when choosing your starting hands, have enough to win a high AND a low. A hand like J-T-Q-K is very strong in Omaha Hi, but less interesting in Omaha-8 since it will not be able to make a low if the board gives a possibility of low. In general, it is not advisable to fight for half the pot with a hand that is not the nuts. With a hand like J-T-Q-K on A-2-3-K-K for example, you are fighting for a maximum of 50% of the pot without even being sure you have the best hand. This is the most common mistake among beginners, fighting for only 50% of the pot. Don't be like them

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