Omaha Hi/Lo Rules

Omaha Hi-Lo is a popular poker game. Also known as Omaha 8 or Better, the game is a variant of Texas Hold’em and is played in the exact same format as Omaha Hi but it is a split pot game. The player with the highest hand will win half of the pot and the player with the lower hand will win the other half if their hand’s highest card isn’t higher than an eight.

Aces can be used to form both a low or high hand. Because of this, having an ace is a lot more valuable in Omaha hi lo games then it is in Omaha hi as it is critical to scooping the low and high sides of the pot. If one of the community cards is an ace you can still use it as low or high or both, whichever gives you the best low and high hand.

Buttons and blinds

The dealer’s button in Omaha hi-lo is used to indicate the position of the player who would be dealing the cards if that player was to actually deal the next hand. A small blind and big blind is posted by the two players directly to the left of the button.

In fixed limit Omaha Hi-Lo, the big blind is typically the same as the game’s minimum bet, and the small blind is half the size of the big blind, but can be larger, depending on the stakes being played. However, in pot limit and no limit Omaha Hi-Lo, the games are referred to by the size of their blinds. For example in a $5/$10 Omaha Hi/Lo pot limit game, the value of the big blind is $10 and the small blind is $5.

The first round of Omaha Hi-Lo

After the blinds have been posted, four hole cards are dealt to each active player. The first betting round commences with the first active player to the left of the big blind. Each player has the option to place his or her bets.

The flop

Upon completion of the first betting round, the dealer will turn over three community cards face up in the middle of the table (known as the flop.) Betting starts with the first player to the left of the button. Players have the options of calling, raising, or folding. If no bet has been made, players may check without making a bet, otherwise they are required to call the bet made from the last person who acted. Once all flop bets have been called, the dealer will turn over the fourth community card (called the turn.)

The turn

Betting is exactly the same on the turn as on the flop. Once all bets have been called, the dealer will turn over the last and final card on the board (called the river.)

The river

Betting is exactly the same on the river as on the flop and turn. Once all bets have been called, there is a showdown between all the players still left in the game.

The showdown

After the cards have been revealed by the remaining players still left in the pot at showdown, the button moves clockwise around the table to the next player and a new Omaha Hi-Lo game begins.

Scooping the pot

Although Omaha hi lo is a split pot game with players with the highest and lowest hands splitting the pot, the main objective is to try and scoop the whole pot by winning with both the high and low hand. The other way to scoop the pot is if there is no qualifying low hand, in which case the high hand gets to scoop the whole pot.

Since you’re dealt four cards in Omaha you’re allowed to use any combination of 2 cards in your hand to form the best high and low hand. Just like in Omaha High, Omaha Hi-Lo requires you to use two of your hole cards together with three community cards to make the best five-card hand.

Understanding hi and lo hands in Omaha Hi-Lo

Making the high hand in Omaha hi-lo is exactly the same as Texas Hold’em. The player(s) with the highest-ranking hand as per the standard hand ranking system wins the high pot.

Whilst understanding how to make the hi hand is very easy to come to grips with especially if you have a background in hold’em, making the low hand in Omaha hi-lo can be a little trickier to get your head around because any hand with a card higher than 8 or with a pair does not qualify for the low part of the pot. For example, a hand with A-2-4-5-6 would beat a hand containing 5-6-7-8-9 as the second hand contains a card that is higher than an eight.

When playing Omaha Hi Lo, an important consideration is what starting hands to play. You don’t want to play hands that are strong for just one portion of the pot. For example, a hand with 3-4-5-6-7 is very powerful and would likely win both the Hi and Lo halves of the pot. However, starting hole cards with big pairs like KK and AA would have a good chance at winning the Hi hand but will not qualify for the Lo hand.

Standard Rules for Omaha Hi-Lo

In Omaha Hi-Lo there are specific betting limits for each round of betting, depending on which of the betting limit games you’re playing.

In fixed limit Omaha Hi-Lo games, during the first two rounds, players should place bets, which must be equal to the lower betting limit of the game (which is the same as the big blind.) But then in the last two betting rounds, bets are set at the higher betting limit of the game.

When playing limit Omaha Hi Lo, a maximum of four bets is allowed during each betting round. This includes one bet and three raises after which the betting is capped and no more raises are permitted. Once the pot is capped, the players who are left to act have the option to either raise or fold. On the other hand, in pot limit Omaha Hi-Lo games, there is no limit on the number of raises for each betting round. All bets/raises are only limited by the amount of chips in the pot, so bigger pots can develop at a quicker rate.

Folding can be done at any time assuming it is your turn to act. The action will them move to the next player and you would not be considered as part of the game for the completion of the current hand, and thus forfeiting your rights to scoop part of the full pot.

Players also have the option of checking when it is their turn to act, in which the player passes the action onto the next player without placing a bet. This option is not always available, however, as it depends on the actions taken by the last player who acted. If there was a betting action made by the previous person, then you would be required to at least match this bet if you wish to continue in the hand.