Omaha Hi-Lo is one of the most popular games currently on offer across the US online poker community for one simple reason: action. Although split pot poker variants may appear somewhat confusing for casual players, the mechanics are actually relatively simple. Moreover, once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll find that it’s a game where bluffing and big pots reign supreme.
Of course, if you’re an amateur with little experience of US online poker in America, then we don’t recommend jumping into a juicy Omaha Hi-Lo cash game. Because the game awards half the pot to the winning high hand and half the pot to the winning low hand, Omaha Hi-Lo takes a lot more concentration than variants such as Texas Hold’em. When you play Texas Hold’em at some of our recommended top USA poker sites, the winning hand at showdown is the highest ranked.
However, Omaha Hi-Lo adds a twist to this format, so our strategy tip is to learn the basics in a high only game first. Become familiar with hand rankings, betting structures and basic strategy by playing Omaha before you jump into the action packed world of Omaha Hi-Lo.
Five Things You Need to Know about Omaha Hi-Lo:
- Omaha Hi-Lo is a split pot game where half the pot goes to the high hand and half to the low hand.
- The high hand scoops the pot if there is no qualifying low hand (a hand where the highest value card is an eight).
- Omaha Hi-Lo is one of the most action packed US online poker games.
- Omaha Hi-Lo can be played in a Limit, Pot Limit, No Limit or a Mixed Limit format.
- Always hone your skills in “high only” games before testing yourself at the Omaha Hi-Lo tables.
The Basics of Omaha Hi-Lo Poker
Ok, at this point we’ll assume you haven’t jumped into one of our poker sites, United States dollars in hand and anted-up at an Omaha Hi-Lo table without gaining experience anywhere else. Assuming you’ve taken some time to learn the basics of poker, you should now be ready to run through a few rounds of low stakes Omaha Hi-Lo.
Before the game kicks off, Omaha Hi-Lo’s main structure is similar to other poker variants. Before your four hole cards are dealt, two players will be required to ante-up a small blind and big blind. Following this the button is placed to the right of the small blind and these facets of the game move around the table in a clockwise fashion.
Once everyone has received their hole cards there is four betting rounds (although not all will be completed if a player’s bet isn’t matched): pre-flop, flop (three community cards), the turn (fourth community card) and the river (the final river card). At each stage, an active player is permitted to check, bet, raise or fold depending on the preceding action.
The Rules of Omaha Hi-Lo
Now we know how to bet, let’s go through the basic rules of Omaha Hi-Lo. An Omaha 8-or-better (as the game is also known) low hand must consist of five different cards ranked eight or below. If this is the case then that hand will be eligible to win the low portion of the pot. One point to not when you’re playing USA online poker and Omaha Hi-Lo is that if there is no qualifying low hand, the high hand wins the entire pot.
For determining an Omaha Hi-Lo hand, this game uses the Ace to Five system. Straights and flushes do not count against a hand and Aces are always low (when you’re reading the low hand). Because of this, the best possible hand is: 5, 4, 3, 2, A. Following this logical trend, here’s a list of the top ten Omaha Hi-Lo hands from the tenth weakest to the strongest:
*Note: a low hand is always ranked from its highest card downwards. So for example, hand #10 is known as a five-low because its highest card is a five. A final point to remember, because this game has split pot format, is that straights and flushes do not count against your low hand. So making a qualifying low that is also a straight or a flush is a very powerful hand because it can win both the high and low halves of the pot (a scoop).
In terms of defining a winning high hand, you simply have to look at the standard ranking of poker hands which ranges from a high card and a pair, to a royal flush.
Solid Omaha Hi/Lo US poker players will discover a lot of opportunities to take advantage of, as many online American poker players don’t understand this game.
Types of Omaha Hi-Lo Poker
Omaha Hi-Lo is played under the following betting structures:
- Limit Omaha Hi-Lo – Bets are limited to a certain size every round.
- Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo – Bets can be as large as the pot size.
- No Limit Omaha Hi-Lo – A player can bet all of their chips.
- Mixed Omaha Hi-Lo – The game alternates between rounds of Limit and Pot-Limit.
Biggest Winners in Omaha Hi-Lo History
Because Omaha Hi-Lo is one of the most popular poker games online in America, there have been a number of big winners in recent years. However, if you want to determine the biggest MTT winners, we need to look at the World Series of Poker:
- Roland de Wolfe – 2009 WSOP $5,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Champion – $246,616.
- Sammy Farha – 2010 WSOP $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Champion – $488,241
- Viacheslav Zhukov – 2011 WSOP $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Champion – $465,216
- Joe Cassidy – 2012 WSOP $5,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Champion – $294,777
- Danny Fuhs – 2013 WSOP $5,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Champion – $277,519
- Brock Parker – 2014 WSOP $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo Champion – $443,407