Omaha Hi Lo Poker Strategy

Omaha Hi Lo Poker

Omaha Hi Lo Poker, also known as Omaha 8/b in live and online card rooms, is a very fun fast-paced action game. You are dealt 4 cards, 2 of which you HAVE to use along with 3 from of the 5 community cards to make your best 5 card high hand and your best 5 card low hand *if low is in effect* for the current hand (see below).

In Omaha Hi/Lo there is a high pot, and if 3 cards on the board are 8 or under, a low side of the pot is in effect. For example, if the 5 community cards showing are : 210K34, there is a low in effect, if you are holding A5 in your hand you have A2345 ( the highly chased after wheel) and may win high and low side of the pot ( known as "scooping" or "sweeping" the pot). If the community cards look like this: KKJ83, it is a high only pot because there are not enough low cards on the board for a low hand to qualify for half of the pot.

Now that formalities of the game are out of the way, you are probably wondering, "what strategy can I use to win at Omaha Hi Lo Poker?".

Part I - Basic Omaha Hi Lo Poker Strategies

As in most poker games, your starting cards are the base of your hand. A fundamental Omaha Hi Lo poker strategy is that you want to play hands with the most possibilities for making a high and a low hand. AA23 or AA24, any hand with AA and 2 lows 5 or under are premium starting hands in Omaha Hi/Low, especially if one or both of your aces are suited with the other low cards in your hand. If you have As Ac 2c 3s, you have a ton of low possibilities (assuming low cards flop for you), two nut flush possibilities, and your AA plays for high as well. A good high starting hand may look like this: JJKK or AA1010 (possibly single or double suited as I have mentioned above). When you put your money in the pot on a starting hand you want to have at least 3 or 4 hand possibilities going in. If you have Jh Js Ks Kh you have 2 high flush possibilities, 2 quad or full house possibilities and a nut straight possibility. This is a good high hand to play.

One thing I need to stress about Omaha Hi/Low poker is that a nut hand usually wins the pot. With typically 9 players at an Omaha Hi/Low table with each player receiving 4 starting cards, then adding to that the 5 community cards, there are 41 cards out of the deck in play. If A23 is on the board and you are holding 56 for your low, you may get in trouble because most likely someone is holding that 45. The same thing is to be said about playing flushes that aren't the nuts. You may be holding KJ of hearts and 3 small hearts are on the board. Usually someone has that ace suited. You can call a bet, but if you get stuck in a raise-fest between high and low it might sting a little when you see your opponent is holding AQ of hearts. My point is, DO NOT raise the pot unless you have the nuts - more times than not it will get you in trouble.

A bad part about Omaha Hi Lo is having to split low with other players. All too often you can be raising your nut A2 only to find out that you lost money because 2 other people have the same A2. Sometimes, especially when there are a lot of players in the pot, it is a BAD idea to raise your low unless you have a high hand to go along with it. If you have a high and a low you should feel good about betting and raising as you are pretty sure that at least half, if not more, of the pot is coming to you. Be careful of raising your low starting hands pre-flop. As 3 other low cards have to hit the board for a low to even qualify, unless you are suited or double suited with lows and the aces, it is like throwing money away when your needed low cards do not flop.

Omaha Hi/Low poker, being a hand after hand action game, attracts a lot of "bingo" players (players who call to see the flop with any 4 cards, sometimes even raising just for the heck of it). If you want to get away from the bingo players and the chasers, it is better for you to play Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Low. If you flop a nut straight in Pot Limit, you can run out people chasing for a flush or full house easier than you would be able to in a fixed limit game. Remember, it is hard to bluff in Omaha Hi Lo. So if you are betting, do it with the nuts!

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