Omaha Hi Lo Rules: How to Play Omaha Hi Lo Poker

As you would probably expect, Omaha Hi Lo is a variant of the popular Omaha poker game and it is a rather popular one. In America the Hi Lo version of the game is almost a more popular choice than the original game whereas in Europe, the original is still the more commonly played one.

Given that the online community and the major poker tournaments are geared towards the US ideals (if not exactly the US players), the Hi Lo version is popular in online casinos and at many poker tournaments. Hi Lo variants require players to put a greater level of thought into their game and to be flexible in their thinking. Players who are good at Omaha should be able to transfer these skills to Omaha Hi-Lo but to the novice player, it can be difficult to play for both ends of the scale at the same time.

How to Play Omaha Hi Lo

It should be no surprise that the general run of Omaha Hi Lo follows the pattern set by Omaha and the game plays out as follows:

  • Each game begins with two players to the immediate left of the dealer placing a small and big blind bet. These are mandatory bets which happens every hand. For every new hand the dealer button passes one space to the left. The dealer then provides each player with four cards face down.
  • The dealer begins the game by dealing a card to the player to his left and then continuing clockwise until all players have four cards. If the dealer is involved with the game, they will take the last card.
  • The betting round begins when the player to the right of the player that received the first card makes the first bet. The betting process makes its way around the table in a clockwise fashion with every player getting the chance to fold, raise or call the blind/bet. Once the betting round is over the deal burns the next card in the pack (discards) and proceeds to turn over three cards, which become community cards. This stage is referred to as the Flop.
  • Once The Flop has occurred, players get the chance to bet, raise, call or they can check their bet, which means they do nothing while getting the chance to see the actions of other players.
  • Another card is burned by the dealer before another card is turned over and placed into the community card section. This stage of the game is referred to as the Turn and players have the chance to check, bet, call or fold.
  • After the betting round is complete, the dealer will turn over another card into the community card section; this is referred to as the River. Any player that is still involved in the game will take place in the final round of betting.
  • This leads to the Showdown where a player will have to use two of their own hole cards and three of the cards in the community section to win.
  • As you would expect from a Hi-Lo game, there is a deviation from the standard Omaha game at this point. If there are not three cards less than a 9 in the community section, it is impossible to create a Lo hand and the pot goes to the player that has the highest ranking hand. However, if there is the opportunity to create a Lo hand, the pot will be split between the Hi and Lo winners.

Best Omaha Hi Lo Starting Hands

Due to the fact that the most important decisions in Omaha Hi Lo are made before The Flop, it is important to get a good starting hand. A good starting hand in a Hi-Lo game is not as straightforward when compared to a standard poker game. The need to have both elements covered means that a split hand is best with an example of A,A,2,x being good, as long as the x is a low number that is not another two. Ideally, x would provide the chance to make a connection so a 3, 4 or 5 would be more than satisfactory for an opening hand.

The basic rule of thumb is if you can get a high pair and then two low numbers that are not a pair then you are on track with a good starting hand. With respect to a bad opening hand, low pairs and a run of middle numbers (6 through 9) would be deemed a bad opening hand.

Omaha Hi Lo Poker Tips

  • Play to scoop the pot. After the flop, if the high hand is weak, feel free to fold and save your money for later hands.
  • Tight play is advised because early raises can see the pot run away from you. If you are totally confident, feel free to play aggressively but on the whole, playing tight will often be right.
  • Beware of suited flops because unless you have an unbeatable Hi hand, this could be exactly what your opponent needs.
  • Always double check your cards. This is obvious advice for a poker player but Hi Lo games can be confusing so be sure of your holdings.