Omaha Hi-Low remains one of the most popular poker games, thanks to its massive pots. The game is known by many other names, including Omaha 8 or Better, Omaha Hi-Lo, Omaha High Low or simply Omaha 8. Poker fans who have played Omaha Hi already know the rules to this entertaining game. This variant of Omaha poker is engaging and fun at every level.
During games of Omaha Hi-Low, players are dealt 4 hole cards, along with 5 community cards. Players must use at least 2 hole cards along with 3 community cards to form the winning 5-card hand. The qualifier in Omaha Hi Low is 8 or Better. That means, the low hand must contain 5 unique cards that are less than 8. In the absence of low hands, the high hand scoops the pot!
It has been said that Omaha Hi-Low began around World War II, when poker’s popularity started to blossom. Of course, the undisputed king of poker games is Texas Hold’em, with Omaha close in tow. Legend has it that a California native named Robert Turner introduced Omaha poker to the Golden Nugget Casino some 30 years ago. At the time, William Boyd, a.k.a. Bill popularized the game with patrons and the called it Nugget Hold’em.
Unfortunately, the name was a flop but the game was a raging success. Back in 1984, Omaha featured as a $1,000 buy-in event at the World Series of Poker (WSOP). That iconic game was won by David Sklansky, and it took a further 7 years before Omaha Hi-Low enjoyed the same status at the WSOP.
Joseph Becker claimed the spoils of victory with a staggering $119,400 prize for winning the Omaha-Hi-Low tournament. At a buy-in of $1,500, it was a big deal. Since the 1991 WSOP, Omaha Hi-Low poker games have enjoyed top billing around the world. Many more people now enjoy poker, and this is one of their all-time favorites.
There have been many big winners of Omaha Hi-Low poker events over the years, most recently Abe Mosseri who won event #9 at the 2017 WSOP playing Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better for a staggering payday of $388,795. Even more impressive was Bryce Yockey’s win at the $10,000 buy in pot limit Omaha 8 tournament in the Omaha Hi-Lo Championship. He walked away with $511,147 and a glittering poker bracelet!
The rules of Omaha Hi-Low poker are similar to those for Omaha Hi. The current game’s dealer is indicated by the dealer button. Before play begins, the player clockwise of the dealer button will pay a mandatory bet known as the Small Blind. Next, the player clockwise of the Small Blind will pay another mandatory bet known as the Big Blind.
In most cases, the Small Blind is half the size of the Big Blind, but variations are possible. When you play limit Omaha Hi-Low poker games, the small bet is equal to the size of the Big Blind. In these games, the Small Blind is usually 50% of the Big Blind, but this can vary as well. If you are playing a $4/$8 limit Omaha poker game, the Small Blind is $2 and the Big Blind is $4. In a $10/$20 limit game, the Small Blind could be $8 and the Big Blind $10.
In Omaha Hi-Low poker games, each player in the hand is dealt 4 private cards. Only that player can use those 4 cards. Additionally, 5 cards are dealt into the middle of the table – the community cards – for all players to use. As with standard Omaha poker, players are required to use 2 of their 4 hole cards, in addition to 3 of the 5 community cards to form the best 5-card hand. Omaha Hi-Low poker is different in that two hands share the pot, provided the rules have been met. For the high hand, 8 or Better serves as a qualifier and for the low hand the 5 cards must rank 8 or lower. If these conditions have not been met, the high hand will win the whole pot. The strongest possible hand – the nuts – in Omaha Hi-Lo is 5, 4, 3, 2 & Ace. Note that Aces are counted as 1 according to the California system for hand rankings.
Getting started with Omaha Hi-Lo poker games is as easy as taking a seat, and buying into the game. Once the Small Blind and the Big Blind have been posted, each player is dealt 4 pocket cards. The betting continues around the table in a clockwise fashion, starting with the player who is left of the Big Blind. During the pre-flop phase of play, players have the option to raise or call the Big Blind. In the pre-flop session, the action left of the BB is a live bet. This player can choose to call, fold or raise accordingly. If the Big Blind was $4, the cost of a call would be $4, or at least $8 to raise. Poker play continues in a clockwise fashion around the table. Bets will continue until all active players have made equal-value bets in the pot.
Next up is the flop. This includes the first 3 community cards dealt into the middle of the table. All players still in the hand – active players – can use these community cards to form their best 5-card hand. Once again, play continues with the first player clockwise of the button. During limit Omaha Hi-Lo games, bets are in increments of the smaller portion of the betting stakes. In a $4/$8 game, that would be $4. The following round of play is known as The Turn – the fourth community card. Play continues with the active player clockwise from the dealer. After the turn, betting continues in increments of the higher portion of the stakes, in this case $8. The river is the fifth and final community card. Once again, the first active player clockwise of the button will commence betting.
The showdown takes place if 1+ player remains in the round. The final Omaha Hi-Lo poker player to raise or bet will reveal his or her cards. If the final round of play did not include a bet, the player clockwise from the button will show his/her cards. Since there are two possible winning combinations, the player with the low 5-card hand wins 50% of the pot and the player with the high 5-card hand wins 50% of the pot. If there is no qualifying low hand, the high hand scoops at all!
There are many unique hand ranking options for Omaha Hi-Lo poker games. Let’s consider the top 5 Omaha Hi-Lo hands for ranking low hands:
Remember, any hand that does not meet the 8 or Better criteria in Omaha Hi-Lo poker is a low hand and any hand that does is a high hand. Some of the strongest starting hands you can have in this game are Ace-Ace-2-4 or Ace-Ace-2-5.
Here are the standard hand rankings of poker games. These include the following:
10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace of the same suit
5 cards in sequential order in the same suit, for example 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 of spades
a kicker card and 4 cards of the same rank such as a 7 and a King of hearts, King of diamonds, King of spades, and King of clubs.
this hand contains 2 cards of a matching rank and 3 cards of the same rank such as 3 Queens and 2 Kings
these are 5 non-sequential cards of the same suit. If two players have a Flush, the highest-ranking card wins out
a straight consists of 5 non-sequential cards of different suits
this hand consists of 3 cards of the same rank and 2 cards that are unrelated
a kicker, two cards of the same rank, and another two cards of a different matching rank
three unrelated cards and two cards of the same rank
this is simply the highest card in your hand of 5 cards. If you have 2, 4, 8, 10, and Ace, the Ace is your high card.
There are 4 types of Omaha Hi-Lo poker games available to players at 888poker:
What qualifies as a high hand in Omaha Hi-Low Poker?
During games of Omaha Hi-Low poker, the high hand that wins is the same as that for Omaha Hi. There are no requirements for the high hand and there is always going to be a high hand.
How do you form a winning hand in Omaha Hi-Low poker?
You need to use precisely 2 of your 4 pocket cards in addition to 3 of the 5 community cards to form the best 5-card hand.
What percentage of hands should you play pre-flop?
Experts advise that poker players should play between 30% and 35% of their pre-flop starting hands. For low hands, it is advisable to play 2-3, Ace-2 and Ace-3. For the high hand, 4 cards should be played only if they are 9 or higher.
How is Omaha Hi different to Omaha Hi-Low?
With Omaha Hi-Low, players have to form a low hand (less than 8), using the rules of Omaha poker games. There is also a high hand – any hand that is not a low hand scoops up 50% of the pot. If there is no qualifying low hand, the high hand wins it all.
Visit the official Omaha Hi page here