Omaha Hi Lo Poker

Like 7 Card Stud Hi Lo, Omaha Hi Lo shares many similarities in rules and structure as its normal counterpart, Omaha Holdem. In fact, the only notable difference applies in the way in which the pot is awarded. In Omaha Holdem, only the player with the highest ranking hand receives the pot. However, in Omaha Hi Lo, both the player with the highest ranking hand and the player with the lowest ranking hand each receive a half of the pot. While the normal distribution of the pot is between two different players, the formation of two separate hands is possible through the use of community cards.

In this scenario, a single player is able to win the entire pot by having both the highest and lowest hand. For example, a 2-6 straight could be the lowest hand on the table but also qualify as a straight that could beat the other players' hands.

Understanding the Lo Hand in Omaha Hi Lo

The Lo hand in Omaha Hi Lo is exactly how it sounds, the hand of the lowest value according to standard poker hand rankings. When determining the Lo hand, the Ace is considered to be the lowest card. A common rule in Omaha Hi Lo is that any hand with a card higher than an eight cannot qualify to be considered for the Lo half of the pot. With this in mind, it is possible for a hand counting as Ace low to win the pot. For example, a hand with A2456 would defeat a hand containing 56789 as the nine exceeds the required 8 or lower rule. Any pair is less valuable than any single card when determining the Lo hand.

Another rule that helps to determine the Lo hand in Omaha Hi Lo is the rule that both straights and flushes are not considered when forming the hand. So, a hand with A2345 would seem to be more valuable than a hand of JQQ45 under normal rules and thus, not qualify for the Lo hand. However, it is actually one of the best low hands possible in Omaha Hi Lo. Just like with the high hand in Omaha, the Lo hand must use at least 2 of the hole cards from the player. If there are no players that have a Lo hand to qualify for the Lo half of the pot, the entire pot is awarded to the player with the Hi hand.

Omaha Hi Lo Strategy

Strategy in Omaha Hi Lo is very similar to other Hi Lo games in that the object is to win the entire pot or quarter another player qualifying for the Lo pot (tie hands for the Lo pot divide the Lo half of the pot into two equal halves with the winner of the Hi hand taking 75% of the entire pot). An important consideration in Omaha Hi Lo is learning how to determine truly valuable starting cards for both the Hi and the Lo - not cards that are strong for just one portion. For example, a low qualifying straight like 2-6 is very powerful for both the Hi and Lo halves. However, hole cards of two high pairs like Q,Q and K,K have a good chance at the Hi but will not qualify for the Lo.

Most professionals will recommend very tight play when participating in Omaha Hi Lo. This means looking out for powerful scoop hands (hands that will compete for both the Hi and Lo) and folding hands that will need some help to win the Hi and cannot win the Lo. This is not to say that you should be folding AA, KK because you can't win the Lo - but starting card selection and patience is more important in Omaha Hi Lo than it is in any other poker variation.