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Omaha Hi-Low Games

Omaha High Low Poker

Omaha High-Low

Basics for Omaha Hi/Low

by Shirley Rosario
Omaha Poker Game

Learning Omaha Hi/Low

Omaha High Low BasicsOmaha Hi-Low is one of several variations of Omaha Poker. It is played similar to Texas Hold’em, but instead of each player being dealt two hole cards, they are dealt four. Like Holdem, community cards are used in combination with the cards from a player’s hand. Omaha Hi/Low is a split game which means that on qualifying hands, half of the pot is awarded to the high hand and half of the pot is awarded to the low hand. In order for a hand to qualify, three cards on the board have to be eight or lower without being paired. For example, there would be no qualifying low hand on a board of KJ223 because even though there are three low cards, there are only two ranks that are eight or lower (the deuce and the three). A board like A2233 would have a qualifying low because even though there are paired cards, there are three different ranks of cards that are eight or lower (the ace, deuce, and the three).

In Omaha High-Low, players try to win some of all of the pot by making a high hand and/or low hand by using two cards from their hands and three from the board. An ideal situation would be to win the whole pot by either winning the high AND the low hand or winning just the high hand when there is no qualifying low hand. This is called scooping in Omaha. Although scooping is the “ideal situation,” it much more common for players to win either the low side OR the high side.

The first thing to remember when playing any sort of Omaha game is that you MUST ALWAYS use exactly two cards from your hand and three from the board to make the best five card hand (low or high). If there are four spades on the board and you have the ace of spade with no other spades in your hand, you do not have a flush. If you have three spades in your hand and there are two spades on the board, you also do not have a flush. Remembering to use two cards from your hand is one area where new players get into trouble because it costs them money when it shouldn’t. Of the four hole cards players are dealt, they can use any two to make a high hand and they can use any two to make a low hand. Sometimes players use the same two cards to make their high AND their low hand (typically when players make a wheel). It doesn’t matter what two cards you use to make any part of your five-card hand so long as you use TWO.

The importance of hand selection is the next thing players should remember. In Texas Hold’em, post flop play is more critical than in Omaha. Because of this, Omaha starting hands are key to becoming a winning player. If a player starts out with a better hand than his opponents every time, then over the long run they are most likely going to come out ahead of those said opponents especially if they are getting value out of their superior hands preflop by raising. There are several schools of thoughts regarding hand selection and obviously players need to do what works best for them. Some players use a point system, some players play hands that only contain A2xx, and other players play starting hands that contain several (or all) wheel cards. Players who use any of the three systems above will be better off than many players who mistakenly think that any four cards can win in Omaha. While that statement might be true on any given hand, it is not true over the long run.

Once a player understands the basics for Omaha Hi Low poker games, the rules of the game (such as a player must always use exactly two hole cards from their hand along with three from the board) and proper hand selection, they can move on to more advanced Omaha High-Low strategies including scooping, cooperation, pot manipulation, etc. Another form of the game, called Pot Limit Omaha, has become quite popular and is worth learning if you like action.

While the game might be a little difficult to learn at first, players should find that with practice Omaha High-Low games are some of the easiest games to beat over the long run. If nothing else, it is a good idea to at least have a good understanding of the game especially for players who are interested in playing mixed games like H.O.R.S.E. or H.O.S.E.

Also see Learn Omaha Poker and Transitioning from Holdem to Omaha Hi/Lo

Basic Omaha HiLo Poker Strategy

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(c) Shirley Rosario

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