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Omaha Hi/Lo

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Introduction:

Omaha Hi/Lo and regular Omaha are basically the same, with one exception that makes for a big change in strategy. The premise for Omaha Hi/Lo is that there are two winning hands for each game: the strongest (highest) hand, and the weakest (lowest) hand split the pot.

The game itself is still played the same as regular Omaha, with each player starting with 4 "Pocket Cards" face down. 5 community cards are then dealt face up, and the highest and lowest hand split the pot. As with Omaha the winning hand must contain 2 pocket cards, and 3 community cards.

Here's where things get interesting. For a hand to qualify as a low hand, it can't have any card higher than an 8. Because Aces count both as a high card and as a low card, the best possible low hand is:


You're probably thinking, "Isn't that a straight?" And you'd be right, except that in Omaha Hi/Lo, any hand that qualifies for the low is not affected by straights or flushes. This creates an interesting situation: You can qualify for both the highest and the lowest hand in a game! If you win both, you will take the whole pot.So, let's say it's your lucky day, and you've been dealt the & , and the community cards hold the . Your straight flush will (most likely) take the high hand, and because neither straights nor flushes count in the low hand ranking, you've got the best possible low hand. Congratulations, you've just "scooped the pot," taking 100%!

Now, to determine the highest hand we'll use the standard hand rankings, which can be viewed on our Hand Rankings page. To determine the best low hand, the highest low card is used. If two players share the same high card, then the next lowest card is used, and so on.

If there are no hands qualifying as a low hand (i.e. every hand holds a card higher than an 8), the highest hand will take the whole pot.

The rest of the game play is the same as regular Omaha...Online poker room has three different types of Omaha Hi/Lo, with the only difference being the amounts and limits available for each betting round. In a Fixed Limit game, both the bet and raise amounts for each round are a preset amount. For example, in a $5/$10 Fixed game, both the bets and raises for the first two rounds of betting must be $5, no more, no less. The last 2 rounds have a bet/raise amount of $10.
In a Pot Limit Game, the maximum bet/raise can't be more than the current pot amount. So, if the pot is $30, you can't bet more than $30. One thing to note: If you are raising on a player's bet, your call is already included in the pot. So, for example, let's say the pot is $100. Player X opens the betting with $100. Your maximum bet is now $300 (Pot = Initial $100 + Player X's $100 + your $100)

The final game type is No Limit. The name says it all; there are no maximum bet limits. You can bet as much as you like during any round of betting, with the minimum bet being the big blind amount. No Limit Omaha Hi/Lo makes for some pretty big pots, and lots of action.

Now that you've chosen a game type, it's time to talk about 3 other betting concepts... The Stakes, The Cap and The Blinds.


The Stakes:


The stakes are tied directly to the game type you select. For a Fixed Limit game, the stakes dictate the bet and raise amount for each round. Let's use our $5/$10 stakes example again. In the first two rounds of betting, both the bet and the raise must be $5, no more, no less. The last 2 rounds have a bet/raise amount of $10.


The Cap:


In a fixed limit game, each round of betting can consist of one bet and has a maximum of three of allowable raises, known as the cap. So, if a bet is made, that bet can only be raised three times, after which all players must call, or fold. However, if only two players remain in the hand the cap is increased, to a maximum of 5 raises. This rule is in effect for all the betting rounds, with the idea being to speed up play.

In both the Pot Limit and No Limit games, the stakes represent the amounts posted as the blinds. More on the blinds next...


The Blinds:


The blinds are mandatory bets posted by two players at the start of each hand, before any cards are dealt. The player directly to the left of the dealer posts the small blind, which in a fixed limit game is half the small stake, rounded down to the nearest dollar, and in pot limit/no limit games is equal to the small stake. The player to the left of him posts the big blind, which in a fixed game is equal to the small stake, and in pot limit/no limit games the big stake.

Sound complicated? It really isn't. Let's use our trusty $5/$10 stakes again. In a fixed limit game, the small blind posts $2 (half of $5 rounded down). The big blind posts $5. In a $5/$10 pot limit/no limit game, the small blind posts $5, and the big blind posts $10.In Omaha Hi/Lo we use blinds as an incentive for players to play a hand, and build the pot. Consider the blinds like a mandatory bet and raise; any players that want to play the hand must match the big blind to stay in. The blinds are considered live bets, so when the action goes around the table and returns to them, they have the option of checking, calling, raising or folding as they see fit.

Some other notes about blinds: Any player has the option of sitting out and waiting for the big blind to reach them. However, if a player sits out and misses posting the big blind, then that player will be required to post a big blind and a small "dead" blind before returning. This rule is in place to prevent potential abuse from players who join a table and then leave before having to post the blinds.

One thing we haven't talked much about is the dealer. In poker each player in turn plays as the dealer. At the table we represent the dealer position with...


The Dealer Button:

The Button is a graphic symbol that represents the theoretical dealer. After each hand the button moves clockwise to the next active player, who becomes the dealer for that hand. This player is considered to be "on the button," and is the last person to act in the betting round. The first player to the left of the button is the first player to be dealt cards, and is the first player to act in each betting round.


The Game Play


Pre Flop:


The Pocket Cards: (AKA the Hole Cards).

The dealer deals each player 4 cards face down. Only the player can see his/her hole cards. After the deal, the next player after the big blind decides whether to call, raise or fold the big blind. Each player in turn is given these options, until all bets are called and the big blind checks. Don't forget, in a fixed limit game, any raises are limited to the lower stake amount, and in a pot limit game, the bet can't exceed the pot amount.


The Flop:

Now the dealer turns over the first three community cards, called "the flop". All betting rounds start with the player directly to the dealers left. For fixed limit games, this round of betting still uses the lower stake, so in our example $5/$10 game, any bets or raises must be $5. The pot limit and no limit rules don't change.


The turn:

(AKA Fourth Street).

The fourth community card is dealt, and a new betting round begins. The bet amount for fixed limit games increases to the upper stake. Betting continues until all bets are called.


The River:


Here the final community card is shown, and the last round of betting takes place. The bet amount for fixed limit games is still the big stake.


The Showdown:


Now all the bets have been called, and it's time to pay the winners. The last player to bet or raise during the final betting round (the river) will show their hand first. If all the players checked through (nobody bet) on the river, the player to the left of the dealer will show first. The remaining players' hands will be automatically revealed moving clockwise, unless a hand is weaker than the winning hand shown. In this case, you'll have the option to show, or muck (fold without showing). The highest and the lowest 5 card hands split the pot. A player can use any 5 cards in their hand to win either the high or the low, or both. Remember, a winning Omaha Hi/Lo hand must use 2 cards from the pocket, and 3 of the community cards. For a complete list of hand rankings, please consult the Hand Rankings page.


Buying the pot:


If during a betting round you make a bet and all players fold to you, you've bought the pot. You have the option to show or muck your cards.


Uneven split pot:


If the pot doesn't split evenly, the player with the high hand takes the extra chips.


Omaha High-Low - Basic advice


When you're playing Omaha High-Low your goal should always be to win the entire pot (also called scoop). Splitting pots will obviously not be nearly as profitable in the long run.
For example, if you scoop a $200 pot in which you have invested $50, your profit will be $150. If you split the same pot your profit will be only $50. In this example the profit of scooping is three time higher than the profit of splitting.
Scooping pots is the objective but opportunities to do so don't come very often. Discipline and a conservative approach are needed if you want to maximize your Omaha High-Low winnings.
Here are some things to think about:

* Look for loose games. What you want is tables where the average number of players seeing the flop is at least five.
* Be very selective about what starting hands you play. For low hand you need hands that include A-2, A-3 or 2-3. High hands require four cards with a value of 10 or higher. Hands containing a 7, 8 or 9 should almost always be folded. When it comes to pre-flop raising you should be even more selective.
* Pot odds are crucial in Omaha High-Low. If you're able to do these calculations correctly you will improve your chances of winning.
* If the flop doesn't go your way - fold. You generally need a good chance of winning both hands to stay in the game.
* If you do hit the flop you should play your hand(s) aggressively. This is an effective way to increase your profit.
* Take advantage of your position at the table. For example you should play more starting hands when you're in late position.
* Omaha is a hand-driven game. This means that you seldom should try to bluff your opponents.

The main thing in Omaha High-Low is to play cards that have a good chance of winning both hands. If you're not very selective about what hands you play you will have a hard time winning over time.


Strong starting hands in Omaha High-Low:
















Of course there are variations in strength within these groups of hands. For example A-A-2-2 is a better hand than A-A-2-8 and A-2-K-K is a better hand than A-2-Q-J. Suited and Double-suited (for example two hearts and two spades) hands are stronger than non-suited ones.


Other playable starting hands in Omaha High-Low:




(fold if the flop doesn't show an ace)








(fold if the flop doesn't show an ace)

And any four cards between Tens and Aces.