The Easy 8-Step Process to Mastering Omaha Hi-Lo

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Ready for a roller-coaster ride? There's nothing better than Omaha Hi-Lo (8 or Better) to get those poker juices flowing! Don't let the fact that this game is played in a fixed limit or pot limit format fool you. It can be filled with crazy action and mind-bogglingly big pots.

Just as in Hold'em, there are 4 rounds of betting, and a pot that is split 50/50 at showdown. Both the low hand and the high hand receive an equal share. Nice! With two ways to win, in addition to getting 4 starting hole cards (instead of the normal 2), players have loads of ways to make hands and win monster pots.

Want to know how to play? Follow 888poker's simple 8-Step guide to Omaha Hi-Lo rules and in no time, you'll start “scooping” pots like a pro!


Table Positions in Omaha Hi-Lo

At a normal 9-max Omaha Hi-Low table, positions are exactly the same as in Texas Hold'em. There are two mandatory bets called the Small and Big Blinds, and the game is usually played in pot limit or fixed limit formats. In pot limit games, the pots can get huge. So even though, the player sat directly to the left of the BB is first to act pre-flop, they could find themselves facing an all-in by the time the action gets back to them.

Newbie Tip: Having position in a hand is really important when deciding which ones you choose to play – same as in Hold'em.


Poker Hand Rankings

Just as in Hold'em, a Royal Flush is the best high hand in Omaha Hi-Lo. But remember, this is a split-pot format, so there is also a low hand to take into account. The Lo is ranked using the 8 lowest cards in the deck; Eight through Ace. The best possible Low is 5-4-3-2-A. You must still use only 2 of their 4 starting cards along with any 3 community cards, but you can use different ones for the Hi and the Lo.

Newbie Tip: Give yourself the best chance of winning by playing A-A-2-3 double-suited. It's considered the best starting hand in Omaha Hi-Lo strategy.


Pre-Flop Action

The player directly to the left of the big blind, also called the Under-the-Gun player (UTG), starts the ball rolling. They can fold (not play the hand), call (match a prior bet or raise) or raise (increase size of current bet). In Fixed-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo, pre-flop, the bet amount is set at the lower of the two table limit stakes. Action continues clockwise until every player has had a chance to act. With no prior raise, the Big Blind can also check.

Newbie Tip: Choose starting hands that can make both low and high hands in this split-pot game. You'll be able to win 100% of the pot.


Post-Flop Action

After the pre-flop betting action ends, the first of 3 community cards – called the Flop – are dealt out. All active players in the hand can use the flop to make their hand. In Fixed-Limit, betting is still fixed at the lower limit. In Pot-Limit, it’s just like on every street. The minimum bet is equal to the big blind and the maximum bet is equal to the amount in the pot at any given time. The first active player, left of the button, starts the 2nd betting round. Action continues clockwise until each player has had the chance to act.

Newbie Tip: In Omaha Hi-Lo Rules, the Ace can be used to form both low and high hands.


Post-Turn Action

Next up is the 4th community card, called the Turn. This card is also is open to use by all active players. From this point on, in Fixed-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo, the betting limit is raised to the higher stake, which is usually double the lower stake. As in previous rounds, players have the option to check, bet, call (if there's a bet), raise (if there's a bet) or fold.

Newbie Tip: With the betting stakes doubled on the Turn in Fixed-Limit, this is a great time to build a big pot with a raise – as long as you have a good hand.


Post-River Action

The River is the last and final community card available for all players to use to make their hand. The remaining players in the game will have exactly the same options as on the Flop and Turn: They can check, bet, call (if there's a bet), raise (if there's a bet) or fold – depending on prior action in the hand.

Newbie Trivia: The Omaha Hi-Lo name 8 or better originates from the fact that a qualifying low hand must have five non-duplicate cards, Eight through Ace – 8 or better!


Scooping at Showdown

The Showdown is the crowning glory of an Omaha Hi-Low hand. It occurs as long as more than one player is still active a hand. During this stage, each of the remaining players must use ANY 2 of their 4 hole cards + ANY 3 of the 5 community cards to form both a Hi and a Lo. The best low hand gets half the pot and the best high hand gets the other half.

Newbie Tip: Have the best Hi and Lo hands at showdown, and you get to scoop the pot. That's 100% in your stack.


It's Omaha Hi-Lo Vs. Texas Hold'em!

If Hold'em is the carefree, brash youth of poker, Omaha Hi-Lo is its crazy aunt or uncle. You know, the one who would always fill your pockets with chocolates and sweets when you were knee-high – as soon as your parents weren't looking. That said, Omaha Hi-Lo has been gaining ground in recent years, finding 4 nice spots on the 2015 WSOP Vegas roster.

Here are just a few differences that make Omaha Hi-Lo so special:

  • You get 4 cards to play with, instead of 2. (Told you it was a crazy game!)
  • Even though you have 4 hole cards, you must use only 2 to make a hand.
  • You cannot “play the board”. You MUST use 2 of your 4 hole cards – not 1, not 3, not 4.
  • There are 2 ways to win – with a high hand and/or a low hand.
  • Omaha Hi-Lo players seem to be a lot wilder and crazier than No Limit Hold'em players. (Just don't quote us on that one!)

For the official Omaha Hi Lo rules to the game, including all terms and conditions, please click here.

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