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How to Play Omaha Hi-Lo Poker? Full Guide

After Texas Hold ‘em poker, the next most popular poker variant is Omaha poker. The Omaha High-Low, Omaha Hi-Lo, or Omaha 8 or Better, as it is also known, uses the same betting structure as Texas Hold ‘em poker, with some crucial differences. The players get four hole cards and five community cards, but they must use two of their hole cards and only three community cards to make a five-card hand. Here, our experts will outline how to play Omaha Hi-Lo poker, and we’ll also outline playing rules and strategy tips.

Omaha Hi-Lo Poker Overview

The goal in Omaha poker, as in Texas Hold ‘em poker, is to make the best five-card hand using only two of the four hole cards and three community cards. But there is a crucial feature in Omaha Hi-Lo, as this is a split pot game, meaning the best high hand wins half the pot, while the best low hand wins the other half of the pot. Hence, the name Omaha Hi-Lo refers to the high and low hand winning the pot.

The rules state that each player can use two hole and three community cards to make the best possible hand, but they can use a different combination of cards to make separate high and low hands. In the case of no qualifying low hand that has five cards below 8, only the best high hand will win the pot. There is also a chance for the same player to win the high and low hands, and this is known as scooping.

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Omaha Hi-Lo Poker Rules

The Omaha Hi-Lo poker game has rules that are very similar to the Texas Hold ‘em poker rules. The main rule is the four hole cards, where you only can use two hole and three community cards to make a hand; you can combine the different cards for the high and low hands, but the rule is to always use two hole and three cards from the board. Here are the Omaha Hi-Low rules, which we outline here:

  • Blinds: Omaha Hi-Lo uses blinds, which are mandatory bets to build the pot. The player immediately to the left of the dealer places the small blind, and the next player on the left places the big blind
  • Dealing the cards: the players get four hole cards, with the dealer giving one card to each player, continuing the dealing until all players get four hole cards
  • Pre-flop: the player gets to see their hole cards, and they can decide on the subsequent action, like folding, calling, or raising the bet
  • Flop: once the betting round ends, the dealer places three cards face-up on the table, which is known as the flop. The players start betting, starting from the first active player on the left of the dealer
  • Turn: once the flop round ends, the dealer turns the fourth card on the table, and the remaining players start betting
  • River: the river is the fifth community card that the dealer places on the poker table, and the fifth round of betting starts with the remaining players checking or raising the bet
  • Showdown: once the final betting round ends, the last player who placed a bet or made a raise will show their hand. If there was no betting done, the first active player on the left of the dealer reveals their hand, and so on, and the winner is decided. The player with the highest hand wins one half of the pot, while the player with the lowest qualifying hand wins the other half

Omaha Hi-Lo Starting Hands

Because Omaha Hi-Lo poker uses four hole cards, there is a big difference in the number of starting hands and the possible combinations. In Texas Hold ‘em poker, there are 169 starting hands with 2652 combinations when we add the different suits. However, in Omaha poker, there are 16,432 starting hands, or 270,725 combinations, when we add the different suits. This makes poker math so complex and almost impossible to do, which is why we’ve listed the best and worst possible starting hands you can get when playing Omaha poker:

Best Omaha poker starting hands
1 A-A-2-x (double suited) (x can be any card)
2 A-A-2-4 (double suited)
3 A-A-2-3 (suited)
4 A-A-2-5 (double suited)
5 A-A-2-4 (suited)
6 A-A-3-4 (double suited)
7 A-A-2-3 (not suited)
8 A-A-2-2 (double suited)
9 A-A-3-5 (double suited)
10 A-A-2-6 (double suited)
As you can see from the table, the best starting hands in Omaha Hi-Lo poker are quite different from the best starting hands in other Omaha poker variants and differ entirely from Texas Hold ‘em starting hands. These are the starting hands that give you the best winning chance because the objective is twofold – you need to make a high and low hand. Because you can only use two hole cards and three community cards to make the best high hand and the best low hand, you see that the best hand includes a pocket pair of aces and low connected cards.

The worst Omaha poker starting hands also deserve mention, and one of the worst starting hands you can have is the 2-2-2-2. Because you can only use two hole cards, you are essentially left with a pocket pair of twos, which means you will get beaten by almost every other hand. The same goes for any other four-of-a-kind starting hand or when you get four suited cards. Also, unsuited middle hands are very challenging to play, so we recommend you consider folding your hand if you get an unsuited combination like J-9-8-6 or something similar.

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Omaha Hi-Lo Card Hand Rankings

The winning high card hands in Omaha Hi-Lo are the same as in Texas Hold ‘em poker, which you can see in the table below. However, the difference is in lowball ranking hands, as the rules state, “the lower, the better,” which makes the hand with A-2-3-4-5 the best lowball winning hand in Omaha High-Low poker.

Hand name Cards
Royal Flush 10-J-Q-K-A in the same suit
Straight Flush J-10-9-8-7 – any five consecutive cards in the same suit
Four of a Kind Four of the same card plus a fifth card
Full House Three cards of one rank and two cards in another rank
Flush Five cards in the same suit, no matter the sequence
Straight Five cards in a sequence, no matter the suit
Three-of-a-Kind Any three cards of the same rank plus two other cards
Two Pair A hand with two distinct pairs plus a fifth card
Pair A hand with a pair of cards and three other cards
High Card A five-card hand that does not fit any of the hands above
Here, we also list the lowball winning hands, as the Omaha Hi-Lo rules state that the lowball hands need to have an 8 or lower card. To qualify, the players need to have a set of five unpaired cards lower than 8. The Ace (A) counts as a low card and as a high card, which is why it is one of the best hole cards to have in your Omaha Hi-Lo starting hand. Before we list the lowball winning hand in Omaha Hi-Lo, here are the rules related to winning the lo in Omaha Hi-Lo:

  • The player makes a low hand using any two cards from the four hole cards and three and any three cards from the board (community cards)
  • The cards the player uses for his best high hand don’t affect creating the low hand, as the player can use the same, different, and a combination of their hole cards
  • To quality, a lowball hand needs to have five unpaired cards that rank below 8, and the Aces are considered the lowest in lowball hands
  • The low cards don’t include pairs, and the low hands are counted from the highest card down, meaning A-2-3-4-5 is the best lowball hand on Omaha Hi-Lo poker
  • The suits don’t matter in a lowball hand, and any players with the same low hand will split the low half of the pot
Hand Name Cards
Five High or Wheel – the best lowball hand in Omaha Hi-Lo 5-4-3-2-A
Six High 6-4-3-2-A
Seven High 7-5-4-2-A
Eight High 8-6-5-3-A

Limit, Pot-Limit vs. No-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo Poker

While we talked about the general rules on how to play Omaha Hi-Lo poker, we had to outline other varieties of the same game, like Limit and No-Limit poker:

✅ Limit Omaha Hi-Lo Poker

Limit Omaha Hi-Lo poker, or LO8, as it is often referred to, has a limit on the bets the players can place. In this variant, the players can place a bet that is limited to the amount of small and big blinds. The players can place bets in the amount of the small blind in the first three betting rounds, and bet and raise the big blind on the turn and river. The other rules are the same in all Omaha poker variants.

✅ Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo Poker

The Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo poker is referred to as PLO, and it has a specific rule related to the bets, more precisely, the maximum bet one can place. In PLO, the maximum bet one can place is the size of the total pot, including the call. It may be challenging to calculate the size of the pot initially, but over time, you can easily do the math. Check-raising is common in PLO, as is the all-in move.

✅ No-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo Poker

There is a No-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo poker variant, and per the rules of this game, the players can place a minimum bet, which is the amount of the big blind, while there is no limit on the maximum amount they can bet or raise. The raise amount must be the same or higher than the previous bet/raise in the same round, and the max is the size of your chips stack on the table.

Omaha Hi-Lo Poker Strategy & Tips

While you can apply some of the same Texas Hold ‘em  tips and strategies to Omaha Hi-Lo poker, we want to share some more tips that we believe will be helpful when you play this poker variant online:

  • Be selective with your starting hand, and don’t think that four of a kind is a good starting hand
  • There are fewer bluffing chances when playing Omaha Hi-Lo poker because any show of strength is a clear indication of a strong hand
  • A double suited starting hand gives you two possible flush draws, so you should prefer playing such hands
  • A-2 or 2-3 gives you two possible straight draws, so you have improved odds of winning the hi and lo pots in Omaha Hi-Lo

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What is Omaha Hi-Lo poker?

Omaha Hi-Lo poker is a split-poker variant where the pot can be split between two or more players. You can win the pot in two ways: by winning the high hand by having the best high hand or/and by having the best low hand with 8 or lower cards. In Omaha Hi-Lo poker, the Ace counts as the high and as the low hand.

What are the Omaha Hi-Lo hand rankings?

The high hand ranking is the same as Texas Hold ‘em poker, as follows: royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, full house, flush, straight, three of a kind, two pair, pair, and high card. But, the lowball winning hand is the lowest unsuited hand, and the best one is A-2-3-4-5.

What’s the best starting hand in Omaha Hi-Lo poker?

The best starting hand in Omaha Hi-Lo poker is a hand that has two Aces and 2 and 3, which gives you the best shot at winning, as you can make a high and a low hand.

What’s the best winning hand in Omaha Hi-Lo poker?

The best high winning hand in Omaha Hi-Lo poker is the royal flush, with T-J-Q-K-A in the same suit. The best lowball winning hand is the A-2-3-4-5.

Can I win the high and low hand in Omaha Hi-Lo poker in the same round?

Yes, you can win the high and low hand in Omaha Hi-Lo poker in the same round. The rules state that you can use two hole cards and three community cards to make the high hand and use two hole cards and three community cards to make the low hand, but you can use any card combinations. Winning the low and high hand in the same hand in Omaha Hi-Lo poker is known as scooping.

Is Omaha High-Low poker profitable?

Omaha High-Low can be profitable, especially when you consider that each player gets four hole cards, which is a considerable advantage as the extra information provides a mathematical advantage. Also, the game is more profitable because you get two ways to win the pot: by drawing the best high hand or the best low hand.

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