Omaha Hi-Lo (a.k.a. Omaha 8 or Better) is a very interesting poker variation where the pot can be shared by both the high and low hand. The frequently split pots add an extra element of strategy into the equation, which makes this a good game for skilled players. If you are interested in the basics of Omaha Hi-Lo, then take a look at our rules section.
As mentioned before, its possible for both the high and low hand to share the pot in Omaha Hi-Lo. So the overall goal of Hi-Lo is to play hands that are capable of winning both the high and low part of the pot. To do this, players must use two out of their four hole cards (face-down cards that only you see) along with three cards from the five community cards (face-up cards that everybody uses). There are no exceptions to the combination of cards that must be used.
Understanding the high hand in Omaha Hi-Lo is pretty easy since high hand rankings are the same as in Texas Holdem and Omaha. However, the Lo hand is what gives a lot of beginners difficulty. The first thing to understand about low hands is that a players hand must contain five cards that are 8 or lower (hence 8 or Better). So a 3-4-5-6-8 hand would qualify as low, but a 3-4-5-6-9 hand would not. Along with this thought, no cards in a five-card low hand can be the same value - i.e. 2-3-4-5-5 is not a low hand; its just a pair of 5s.
When determining winning Hi-Lo hands, the first card thats looked at is the highest qualifying card. For example, a 2-3-5-6-7 hand would beat a 2-3-5-6-8 hand because the 7 is lower than the 8. If two low hands tie, the next highest qualifying card is looked at; so A-2-4-5-7 would beat A-2-4-6-7. Assuming there are no qualifying low hands, the high hand would scoop the whole pot.
Ace is the lowest possible card in Omaha Hi-Lo, and its also the highest, thus making it very valuable when going for the Hi and Lo portions of the pot. The wheel straight of A-2-3-4-5 can be used as a high hand, and its also the best possible low hand in Hi-Lo. One more thing worth mentioning is that straights and flushes are ignored when ranking low hands. So 4-5-6-7-8 will still be beaten by A-3-4-5-7 despite being a straight.
While there are no dealers in online poker, the button signifies the dealer position in Omaha Hi-Lo. The button is the best position in an Omaha Hi-Lo game because players in this position act last, and get to see their opponents actions before making a decision. The button moves clockwise so that each player gets to be on the button.
The first player to the left of the button receives their cards first; this player must also post the small blind (half the size of the big blind). The big blind is two spots to the left of the dealer, and they must post a bet thats double the size of the small blind. In a $3/$6 game of Omaha Hi-Lo, the small blind would post a $3 bet, and the big blind would post a $6 bet. The blinds are posted before hole cards are dealt; if everyone folds before the flop, the big blind wins both blinds. Blinds move clockwise one seat after every hand, and players must post blinds or sit out if they dont. If this happens, they must post the big blind to re-enter the game.
Much like Texas Holdem and Omaha, Omaha Hi-Lo offers three variations based on the betting limits. Here is a look at each betting limit:
No-Limit - In No-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo, theres no limit to how much money players can bet during their turn.
Pot-Limit - Players can bet an amount equal to the pot size and what they need to call in Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo. For example, if the pot size is $20 and the player needs to call $10 to stay in the hand ($30 total), they can make a maximum raise of $30.
Limit - Betting sizes are fixed in Limit Omaha Hi-Lo. During the first two betting rounds, raises are limited to the big blind amount; so in $5/$10 Limit Hi-Lo, players can only bet $10. In the last two rounds, players raise twice the size of the big blinds. The most bets players can make in a Limit Omaha Hi-Lo betting round is four (one bet and 3 raises).
First Round (Preflop) - Each Omaha Hi-Lo hand begins when the blinds are posted. Four hole cards are then dealt to each player, and players arent supposed to show their hole cards or look at opponents hole cards. The first player to the left of the big blind begins the action by choosing to call the big blind, raise or fold; players cant check in the first betting round and must call the big blind or raise to continue. Betting continues clockwise around the table, and if someone raises during the hand, other players must call the raise or re-raise to keep playing. The amount that a player can raise or re-raise all depends on the Omaha variation.
Second Round (Flop) - When the first betting round is done, three community cards are dealt (flop). The small blind starts the flop betting by either checking, raising or folding. Betting continues clockwise around the table, and every player has the same options unless someone bets; once a bet is made, players can call, raise or fold.
Third Round (Turn) - After the fourth card is dealt (turn), the third betting round begins. The betting action is the same as in the previous two rounds with one exception - the raise increments are equal to the big blind (instead of the small blind like in previous rounds). For example, in $10/$20 No-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo, players must bet at least $20 when betting or raising; from there, they would raise to $40, $60, and so on.
Fourth Round (River) - The fifth and final community card marks the last betting round. All of the betting actions and bet increments are the same as with the turn.
Showdown - When two or more players are left in a hand after the river, the they show their cards to see who has the best hand. The last person to bet or raise shows their hand first, and other players show their hand if its better; if its not better, they can muck the hand without showing it. Whoever has the top hand will win the pot, and pots are divided between players when hands tie. As mentioned before, both the high and low hand can split the pot; for instance, A-K-Q-J-10 (high hand) would split the pot with A-2-3-6-7. Also, if two low hands tie, they would split the low portion of the pot (quarters).