The best of both worlds, Omaha Hi Lo combines the game mechanics of traditional Omaha poker with the added upside of additional payouts and large pots.
In Omaha Hi Lo, the pot is split between two winners: the best high hand, and the best low hand.
Our expert guide to Omaha Hi Lo poker will cover:
To win a hand of Omaha Hi Lo poker, a player has two options:
Each pot will be split evenly between two winners.
Players must use exactly two of their four personal cards and three of the five shared community cards. Each player is able to use different card combinations to submit their high hand and their low hand, but each combination must be comprised of the same ratio: two personal cards with three community cards.
If there is no qualifying low hand (more on the qualifier in a minute), the entire pot goes to the player with the best high hand.
The deal and betting rounds follow a similar format to Texas Hold’em, with a flop, turn and river each interspersed with rounds of betting.
Read on for a more detailed look of how to play and rules.
Again, the purpose in Omaha poker is to have either the best high hand, or the best low hand. Each pot will be split equally between these two hands, and in the event of no qualifying low hand, the pot will be awarded to the high hand.
Omaha Hi Lo poker follows a similar dealing structure to standard Omaha poker:
Each player must use exactly two of their personal cards combined with three of the five community cards to make their hands.
Players can use different hole and community cards for their high and low hand, but the ratio of community & hole cards must remain the same. Aces can be used as either a high or a low card, depending on which hand you’re building.
Most variations of Hi Lo poker employ an “8 or better” qualifier for the low hand.
This means that in order to be eligible to win the “low” half of the pot, all cards in the hand must be ranked eight or less.
For this example, let’s imagine we’re playing $5 / $10 Hi Lo. This means that the small blind, the player directly to dealer’s left, bets $5 and the big blind, seated to the left of the small blind, bets $10.
Each player is then dealt four cards face down.
The first round of betting beings with the player located directly to the left of the big blind. Players can then call the big blind of $10, raise the $10 to whatever amount (if no limit) or the value of the pot at the time (which in this case would be $15) or the player can fold their cards.
After bets are in, the dealer will flip over three community cards referred to as “the flop”.
The first active player to the left of the dealer begins the next betting round. That player can either check (no bet), bet or fold. The players next to the first bettor can either check (if person before them checked), call (match previous bet), raise the bet to their liking or fold.
After the post-flop round of betting is complete, the dealer flips over a fourth card, deemed “the turn”, and another round of betting ensues.
The same bet type options as in the post-flop betting round are available to each active player.
Whomever is remaining in the hand gets to see the fifth and final community card – “the river” – and enjoys one final round of betting.
After the post-river round of betting is complete, all remaining players reveal their hole cards. The person with the best Omaha Hi hand wins half the pot, and the person with the best Omaha Lo hand wins half the pot. This can be same person and when the same person wins both pots, it’s referred to as “scooping” the pot.
If no player qualifies for the Lo win, the player with the best Hi hand wins the entire pot.
While the double-pot may seem confusing at first, the hand rankings are really quite straightforward, and once you play a few hands, you’ll get a hang of it quickly.
Judging the best high hand in Hi/Lo poker is very straightforward, especially if you’re familiar with other hand poker rankings.
High hands follow the same ranking system as popular games like Texas Holdem. The best hands are ranking here, from best to worst:
|Royal Flush||Five sequential cards of the same suit, 10 through Ace|
|Straight Flush||Five sequential cards of the same suit|
|Four of Kind||Four cards of the same value|
|Full House||Three cards of the same value and two different cards of the same value|
|Flush||Five cards of the same suit|
|Straight||Five sequential cards|
|Three of a Kind||Three cards of the same value (other two cards are irrelevant)|
|Two Pair||Two cards of the same value and two different cards of the same value (the fifth card is irrelevant)|
|One Pair||Two cards of the same value (the other three cards are irrelevant)|
|High Card||None of the above; defer to the highest-value card in the hand|
Determining Low hand ranks is more unique, but no more complicated.
Low hands are ranked using the California system, meaning straights & flushes don’t count against a hand, pairs & three/four of a kind do count against the hand, and Aces always count as a low card.
Using this system, unpaired hands are ranked beginning with the hand’s highest card (for example, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 would be “7-low”)
The best possible low hand is known as “the wheel”: A, 2, 3, 4, 5 (5-low).
The next best possible hand would be A-2-3-4-6 (6-4 low.)
The latter hand would lose to the former because 6 is higher than 5. This same pattern continues throughout the deck: 6-low beats 7-low, 7-low beats 8-low, etc.
While flushes and straights don’t count against your hand, pairs do. This means that the lowest pair (e.g. A-A-2-3-4) would still lose out to the highest single-card hand (e.g. 9-10-J-Q-K).
In short: stay focused on low cards and avoid pairs & three/four of a kind – lowest hand wins.
Be sure to see the flop – the first three community cards – before placing any raises. While there are some exceptions to this strategy, a little patience goes a long way in Hi Lo.
With two ways to win each hand and four hole cards each, calculating probability can be a bit of a mess. We avoid not bluffing, unless you’re very comfortable with the game.
Again, with two ways to win and four-hole cards for each player, starting hands are likely much higher than you’d expect. Play with caution, assume everyone has a strong hand off the start.
Omaha hi lo is a variation of the popular poker game Omaha / Omaha hold’em, in which players have an opportunity to win twice on each hand, the hi (strong hi hand) and the lo (strongest lo hand).
It’s a royal flush, Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and 10 in the same suit.
The best low hand in Omaha hi lo is 5-4-3-2-A off-suit and is sometimes referred to as wheel/bicycle.
The best Omaha hi lo starting hands are A-A-2-3 double-suited followed by A-A-2-4 double-suited. Why? Because you’re in great position to win the Hi and Lo and “scoop” the pot.
The primary difference is the split pot that is awarded to the winner of the Hi (strongest high hand) and Lo (strongest low hand). While there are nuances within Hi Lo, like low hand typically must qualify, the same player can win both halves of the pot.