Omaha Hi Lo - Real Money Games, Rules & Strategy Tips
Basic principles and how-to-play strategies for Omaha High Low Poker shown here are those generally agreed to and recommended by the experts for bet limit games. An understanding of these basics is needed for all levels of competitive play. Solid intermediate and expert level poker normally require study of the more advanced game tactics and considerable hours of online or actual card room playing experience.
Limit Omaha High Low Poker Rules - 2 to 10 Players
- Highest hand splits the pot with the lowest qualifying low hand
- Players MUST use TWO of their hole cards combined with three from the board to make their highest and lowest hands. Any two of the players four cards can be used for high, and any two can be used for low
- To qualify for the low half of the pot, the low hand must be 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 or lower
- Ace plays both high and low
- Three raise limit per round
- Cards speak
The image below depicts the card distribution and betting procedure for Omaha/8.
How to play $2/$4 limit omaha eight or better, hi-lo split with a double blind:
At casino Omaha tables, a round plastic marker called the dealer "button" is placed in front of the player who would be dealing if a house dealer were not provided. The button is moved one seat clockwise after each game and the card distribution and betting starts to the left of that position.
Each player is dealt four cards face down. Then, a total of five community cards are dealt face up in the center of the table in three betting segments (3-1-1). After all the cards are dealt the players make the best hand that they can by combining any two of their two hole cards with any three of the five community cards.
Using the illustration above, a player holding a jack and a four would end up with a full house, jacks over fours. If he is also holding a six and an ace, he would have a qualifying low hand of 8, 6, 5, 4, A.
The betting procedure goes like this:
(1.) Before each player is dealt four down cards, the player at the immediate left of the button, called the "Small Blind" is forced to bet $1 (half the minimum bet). Then the player to his left and two seats to the left of the button, called the "Big Blind", is forced to bet $2. Each player is then dealt a four card hand. Then the player at the left of the big blind is first to act and he must either call the big blind's $2 bet, raise, or fold his hand. Continuing in turn clockwise, all the players around the table either call, raise or fold.
When the betting gets back around to the small blind, he or she can fold and lose only the half minimum bet of $1 placed earlier, call the amount necessary to get up to the betting level or raise $2 if there is a raise left.
The big blind is then the last to act before any cards are turned up in the middle. The blinds are played in the first round only.
(2.) The dealer turns three cards up in the center of the table. This is the "Flop". As always, after the flop, the player at the left of the button is first to act. There are no more forced bets and the players can all check around if they want to. Bets right after the flop are at the $2 minimum bet level.
(3.) Now comes the "Turn" card with more betting that now goes to the $4 level.
(4.) Finally the last, or "River" card is turned up. The last $4 betting round takes place. The players still in the contest reveal their hole cards and the highest hand wins the pot or splits with the lowest qualifying low hand. Of course, the ideal result is to win the high end with no split or have the cards to win both ways.
In Omaha High-Low the high hand winner must split the pot with the player with the best qualifying low hand. There is always a high hand winner but not always a low. For your hand to qualify for low, it must have five denominations no higher than an eight. Any two of your four down cards are played for high and any two are played for low.
Players must play exactly two out of their hands for each direction. Aces are played both high and low. Straights and flushes do not disqualify a hand for low, so a player ending with 5 4 3 2 A would have an unbeatable low hand and a 5 high straight to play for high. A player with this hand would have a good chance of winning both ways. He or she could also have another high hand better than the straight.
The most important thing to keep in mind in split pot games is the big profit difference between winning half the pot and "scooping" it all. It is a lot more than just twice as much. Scooping the pot usually builds a healthy addition to your stack of chips. Getting half usually puts you barely ahead of where you were before you started playing the hand.
Expert Omaha Hi Lo players only play starting hands, like those recommended here, that have a good chance of winning both ways. Omaha is a game of "nuts". With so many players with so many cards, finding so many reasons to play, a final hand with a fairly good high and a fairly good low can easily get clobbered by better hands both ways.
So after the flop or maybe the turn, if it looks like you don't have an almost certain winner for one end and a decent shot at the other, or the best high hand with no qualifying low probable, you should usually fold up and wait for the next hand.
- (5 4 3 2 A). Can be played as the lowest possible hand, or a straight for high, or both.
- Suited Player Hand(s)
- Two of the players four cards of the same suit.
- Double Suited Player Hand(s)
- Two of the players cards of one suit and two of another suit.
- Three of a kind with two of the three in your hand (One in your hand and two on the board is "trips").
- Nut Hand
- An unbeatable high or low hand. Sometimes called a "lock".
- Flop, Turn. River
- The community cards in the order of distribution. See top illustration.
- Win both high and low ends of the pot or win it all with a high hand when there is no low.
- Fast Play
- Bet, raise and re-raise to get as many other players out as possible.
- Slow Play
- Just check or call along to keep other players in the game and increase the pot odds.
- Check when you can and fold if you have to call a bet made in front of you.
Denominations for this Game
High Cards - A, K, Q, J, 10
Middle Cards - 9, 8, 7
Low Cards - 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A . . (even though eights and sevens may be used as low hand qualifiers)
Throw-Away Starting Hands
These should be automatically folded without any further consideration:
Quads - (including) A A A A
Trip Threes thru Trip Kings - 333X - KKKX
Lowest Card is 4 thru 9 Paired or Unpaired - i.e. 4567, 67QQ, 47JK, 88KK, 9TJQ etc.
Playable Starting Hands
The best possible starting hand is AA23(DS). The other starting hands below are randomly listed rather than in power order.
Includes non-suited, suited, paired, and unpaired hands unless otherwise noted.
Trip Aces and a 2 or 3 - AAA2, AAA3
Pair of Aces and Two Low Cards - i.e. AA23, AA44, AA35, AA26, AA66 etc.
A,2 and Anything - A2XX
A,3 and Two Low Cards - i.e. A346, A355, A356, A335 etc.
Any two cards suited unless otherwise noted. Double suited better but not necessary.
Trip Aces and a 4 or 5 Suited - AcAA4c, AdAA5d
Trip Deuces and Ace Suited - 2h22Ah
Pair of Aces and Two High Cards Suited - i.e. AhAXhX, AAXsXs etc.
2,3 and Two Low Cards Suited - i.e. 233c6c, 23c46c etc.
Ace Suited to Anything - AcXXXc
Two High Pair Double Suited - i.e. KhKdQhQd, TcTsJcJs etc.
Four Unpaired Low Cards - i.e. 2c4s5c6s, 3d4h5h6d etc.
- Remember that you only play to scoop the pot, so after the flop, if your high hand is not a certain winner and will probably have to split with the low, or if you are playing for low and don't have a decent shot at the high hand, usually check/fold and get out early.
- Slow play most Omaha hands. It is very difficult to run players off in this game and early raises are risky unless you know you can't lose.
- Usually avoid playing middle suited connectors. Hands like 8h 9h that are often very playable in Holdem and Omaha high, are bad news in high-low split. To make the high end of a straight, you have to catch the cards that will also qualify low hands. To play these you also need a suited ace or an A2.
- Don't overbet A2, A3 and 2 3 nut lows. These are often shared with another player and you can end up getting "quartered". In other words, if there are two playing the same nut low and one going high, you are in a situation where every bet you make contributes 1/3 to the pot that will only pay you 1/4 back. You do better if you can check around. Fast play in this situation only makes you money if there are three or more other players with either high or losing low hands.
- Watch out for uniform flops, like 8 7 6, they can easily turn into straights that can overtake your high pair trips, or other good hand.
- Beware of Suited Flops that can make a completed flush. In this case, you should usually hold the nut in that suit, or have trips or two pair that can fill up.
- Check the raisers chips. Players that are close to all-in often rush the betting just to get all their chips in a sink-or-swim last hand.
- Study your opponents, especially when you are not playing hands and can pay careful attention. Do they find more hands to play than they fold? Do they bluff? Can they be bluffed? Do they have any "tells" (give away mannerisms) that disclose information about their hands etc.
- Get caught bluffing once in a while. It is a way to vary your play and not be too predictable. You win pots that you don't deserve when your bluff works. You lose a few chips when it doesn't work but it will get you calls from weaker hands down the line when you are really strong and need the action.
- Pay very close attention to your cards. Omaha High Low hands can get confusing and it is sometimes easy to think you have a nut hand winner when you don't, or have the best possible hand and not realize it. Be careful to avoid these costly mistakes.
Have fun and GOOD LUCK!