How to Play Omaha Hi-Lo Strategy

Omaha Hi-Omaha Hi-Lo, also known as Omaha High-LowO8 and Omaha 8-or-Better, is one of the most popular and entertaining forms of poker in the world. When the poker boom hit, a significant number of Omaha players moved to Hold'em, as that's where all the games and action were. Now interest in Omaha has been rekindled thanks to its heavy action and complexity of play compared to No-Limit Hold'em.
Almost every live and online poker room spreads Omaha as an alternate variation to Hold'em. Stud and its variants are most commonly limited to the larger American casinos, while Omaha is more universal. Learning to play this game will open up the door for making massive profit against players unable to remove themselves from their Texas Hold'em mindsets.

The majority of O8 games you will play – especially at the lower limits – will be very active and aggressive games with upward of five players seeing a flop every hand. This is even common in many higher-limit games! For the sake of this beginner Omaha Hi-Lo Strategy guide we'll map out basic for playing O8 in a loose-aggressive cash-game.

On this page, you'll find the the basic rules of how a Omaha Hi-Lo poker game works, and the key differences between Omaha High and Omaha Hi-Lo. However, if you're not yet familiar with the rules and game play of standard Omaha High poker, check out our dedicated guide on how to play Omaha poker.

Omaha Hi-Lo Basic Rules

Omaha Hi-Lo is a game where the pot is sometimes split between two or more players. It is mainly about winning the high hand, which is done just like in any other game, you should have the best hand after the river. However, if there are three cards from 8 downwards, for example      where  counts as both the highest and lowest, then there is also the possibility of a low hand qualifying.

The best high hand in the example above is QT, which gives a straight, and the best low hand is 23, where the player plays 8-4-3-2-A.

The pot is then split 50/50 between the player with the high hand and the player with the low hand. If two or more players have QT, they share the high pot, and if two or more players have 23, they share the low pot.

The absolute best hand to have in this example is QT32 as you have both the best high hand and the best low hand.

On a board that goes     , for example, no low hand qualifies, which means the high hand takes the entire pot and ATxx is the best hand you can have. Same here, if two or more players have ATxx they split the pot.

That being said, you should always focus on winning the high hand first, but it's always good to have a low addition to your hand. For example, if you have    , you have a good opportunity for nice high hands and at the same time   can give you a low hand.

Omaha Hi-Lo Rules – The Showdown

Assuming you understand how to play Omaha High, let's look at what distinguishes the two games. Omaha Hi-Lo is a “split pot” game, meaning that at showdown, the pot is divided in half, with one half being awarded to the winning best hand, and the other half to the best qualifying “low hand.” If the same player is winning both high hand and low hand without splitting with any other players it´s called a scoop.

The High

The winning high hand in Omaha Hi-Lo is identical to that of Omaha High. There are no qualification requirements for the high, meaning there will always be a winning high hand.

The Low

Low hands must qualify to be eligible for winning the low half of the pot.

  • A low hand is composed of any two cards from a player's hand, and any three cards from the board (community cards).
  • The cards a player uses for his best High hand have no effect on the low. The player can use the same cards, different ones or a combination from his hand.
  • A qualifying low hand is defined as five unpaired cards, all with ranks at or below 8.
  • Aces are considered low for the low hand.
  • Flushes and straights are ignored for the low, meaning the best low possible is A-2-3-4-5 regardless of suits.
  • Low hands are counted from the top down, meaning the hand is only as good as its highest card.
    For example:
    •      is lower than     
  • Any hand with a pair, or with a card higher than 8, does not qualify, even if the rank of the pair is below 8.
  • Suits do not count toward a low; any players sharing the exact same low must equally split the low half of the pot. (Winning half of the Low pot, and nothing from the High pot is known as being quartered.)

Omaha Hi-Lo Poker Hand Rules

In this table we are showing an example of a split pot in Omaha Hi-Lo.

Board

4hearts45clubs57spades7QspadesQAheartsA

Player 1:

AclubsA2spades2KheartsKKspadesK

Player 1:

AspadesA3spades3QheartsQQdiamondsQ

High Winner

Player 2 wins with three-of-a-kind queens

QheartsQQdiamondsQQspadesQAheartsA7spades7

Low Winner

Player 1 wins with a 7-5-4-2-A Low

7hearts75clubs54hearts42spades2AclubsA

Player 2 wins the High Hand using   from his hand to make three of a kind Queens which is better than Player 1's best High hand which is     .

Player 1 wins the Low hand using   from his hand. Player 2 also have a low hand qualifying but has   in his hand which is why Player 1 wins.

Omaha Hi-Lo Scoop Rules (Winning both High Hand and Low Hand)

In this table we are showing an example of a player winning both High and Low (Scoop) in Omaha Hi-Lo.

Board

KheartsK3diamonds34diamonds48spades82diamonds2

Player 1:

AheartsAKspadesKQdiamondsQ2spades2

Player 2:

JheartsJJheartsJ7hearts76hearts6

High Winner

Player 2 wins with a flush, jack-high

JdiamondsJ10diamonds104diamonds43diamonds32diamonds2

Low Winner

Player 2 wins with a 7-6-4-3-2 Low

7hearts76hearts64diamonds43diamonds32diamonds2

In this pot, Player 2 scoops with the best high hand and the best low hand. Many players will think that Player 1 will win the low because A-2 is a lot lower than 6-7. But the fact is that you count the highest card in your low hand first, meaning that Player 1 has an 8, (8-4-3-2-A) while Player 2 has a 7, (7-6-4-3-2) and that makes Player 2's hand the winning low hand.

Additional Omaha Poker Hi-Lo Rules

  • If there is an extra odd chip, unable to be split in half, this chip is always added to the pot awarded to the winning high hand.
  • If there is no qualifying low hand the entire pot is awarded to player with the winning high hand.
  • Players can win one or both halves of the pot with the same or different cards from their hand.
  • A player does not have to announce what half of the pot she's playing for at the beginning of the hand. This is only required in other variations of poker, known as “declare” games.

Omaha Hi-Lo Poker Strategy

Loose Omaha Hi-Lo is when five or more people see the flop on average. It's a fascinating game and quite different from any other form of poker. This game has become increasingly popular due to the fact there is so much action involved. In loose Omaha Hi-Lo, the expert player does not have a huge edge over the intermediate player, but both have a considerable edge over the weak player. Loose Omaha Hi-Lo is a hand-value-driven game, which means that there is not much bluffing or semi-bluffing involved.

Keep in mind that the strategies outlined in this text are for beating a loose Omaha Hi-Lo game. Some of them may not work in a tight/aggressive high-limit Omaha Hi-Lo game. The article assumes basic knowledge of the rules and structure of the game. If you are unsure about what it means to scoop the pot, get quartered or counterfeited or know how to calculate pot odds, we recommend that you refer to the book suggestions at the end of this article. Note: all information contained in this article consists of general advice on how to play. Remember that in poker there are always exceptions to the rules.

Omaha Hi-Lo Poker Strategy

How to Win at Omaha Hi-Lo

Just like Omaha Hi, O8 is considered to be a nut game. Meaning that if you don't have the nut hand, there's a very good chance you will NOT win the pot. For this reason you want to be very selective in the hands you play and only play hands with “nut” potential. The most important thing to remember is the scooping advice. Your main goal in O8 is to win both the high and the low.

In reality, scooping (winning both the high and low) is a difficult thing to do and, for the most part, rather rare. When playing Omaha your goal is to play for the high with a redraw to the low. If you have the nut high you're guaranteed half the pot. Holding nothing but the nut low still puts you at risk for being quartered or worse

  1. Seldom raise before the flop.
  2. Remember that your aim is to scoop the pot.
  3. Be able to fold on the flop very often.
  4. Play premium .
  5. Select your table carefully. Only play in loose games where 5+ players see the flop on average.
  6. Hone your ability to quickly calculate accurate Omaha odds.

All of this advice is very general but will serve you well if you apply it judiciously. Seldom raising before the flop does not mean that you should never ever raise before the flop, though. But in a game like O8 with almost-guaranteed high and loose action, raising before the flop with anything less than a premium hand does little more than increase the size of the pot.

Key advice for Limit Omaha Hi-Lo

Starting Hands & Pre-flop

  • You should play approximately 30%-35% of your hands.
  • Only play hands that include A-2, A-3 or 2-3 for low hand (although a backup low card adds value.)
  • Starting hands should have four cards (9+) for high hand. (bar A-9 hands with two big cards which you shouldn't play at all.)
  • To mix up your play, occasionally play A-4 and A-5 suited if the other two cards also work well with the hand.
  • Fold most hands that have 7, 8 or 9. Most of these hands have negative EV.
  • Don't raise in early with your good A-2 hands. Instead, raise in late position with several callers ahead to build a pot with the best hand.

Flop

  • When you hit a good flop, play more aggressively.
  • Fold your hand on the flop very often.
  • Play hands that are capable of scooping the pot.

Turn & River

  • Don't play after the flop if you don't have the nut potential.
  • Occasionally bluff on the river if there's no low hand out.
  • You should bluff infrequently.
  • Only play marginal starting hands in late position, when several players called before you.

Common Mistakes in Limit Omaha Hi-Lo

  1. Playing too many starting hands.
  2. Calling all the way with only a high or only a low potential.
  3. Seeing flops with four middle cards, like 6-7-8-9.
  4. Raising with A-2 in early position and making players fold instead of seeing the flop cheaply with more players in.
  5. Calling with only a low draw when the flop comes with two high cards.
  6. Calling with just a high draw when the flop comes with two low cards.

Omaha Hi-Lo Starting Hands

The best starting hands in Omaha Hi-Lo are A-A-2-3 double-suited followed by A-A-2-4 double-suited. This kind of hand is very strong because it can be played for both high and low, which gives it great scoop potential. Of course, being suited or (even better) double-suited adds value to every hand.

With four cards in Omaha it is possible to create 16,432 unique combinations. This fact, combined with the possibilities of winning with both a low and a high hand, makes a top list of starting hands in loose O8 very different from those for other . Since there are so many more kinds of playable hands in loose Omaha Hi-Lo than in Hold'em, a list limited to the top 100 starting hands leaves out too many playable four-card combinations.

However, the following lists should provide you with a good idea of what types of starting hands are strong in loose Omaha Hi-Lo.

Best Starting Hands in Omaha Hi-Lo

It is essential that you consider how all of these hands vary in strength, depending on the x-card/s and whether the hand is non-suited, suited or double-suited. All x-cards containing a 6-9 usually weaken the hand. However, in general, all of these combinations are strong hands in loose Omaha Hi-Lo. For example, an A-2-K-K double-suited is significantly stronger than an A-2-Q-8 non-suited, even though both hands belong in the A-2-x-x category. Furthermore, an A-A-K-K double-suited is quite a bit stronger than an A-A-Q-7 non-suited, etc.

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