Omaha Hi-Lo is a poker player favorite worldwide because of it’s exciting potential for winning the game’s notoriously large pots. Also referred to as Omaha 8-or-better, the purpose of the game is to make the best five-card poker hand for both high and low ranking hands, hence the name Omaha Hi-Lo. Each player is dealt four cards, known as the ‘hole cards’, which they keep to themselves. The community or ‘board’ cards, of which there are five, are dealt facing down on the table and are revealed to everyone throughout the various rounds of the game. Using any combination of two cards from the hole and three cards from the board, each player creates their best possible high and low five card poker hands. While two different hole cards and/or three different board cards may be used to make the high and low hands, the hand must always consist of exactly two hole cards and three board cards.
A low hand in Omaha Hi-Lo is comparable to a low hand in 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo—the low hand should have five different cards, which are ranked eight or lower. If there is no qualifying low hand from any player at the end of the game, the player with the winning high hands wins the entire pot instead of half. When ranking low hands in Omaha Hi-Lo, the cards must be in descending order from highest to lowest and may not be higher than eight. Straights and flushes do not count against your hand and remember that aces are always one. The best possible low hand would therefore be: 5, 4, 3, 2, A, what is known as a ‘wheel.’
In terms of the betting formats, Omaha Hi-Lo is played in four basic structures. Limit Omaha Hi-Lo is played with specific bet limits for each hand and round and each player is limited to only four bets per round. Pot limit Omaha Hi-Lo sets the maximum bet as the size of the pot and the minimum raise as at least the same amount as any previous raise. In the No limit format, the minimum bet must be at least the size of the big blind, but there is essentially no max and you can bet up to all of your chips. The final format of Omaha Hi-Lo is called mixed and is played by consistently alternating between Limit and Pot-Limit rounds.
After it is determined who goes first, they make their move. Next, the player immediately clockwise to the previous better makes the ‘big blind’, which is typically twice the size of the small blind depending of the chosen Omaha Hi-Lo format. Each player is then dealt their four individual hole cards and must in turn, call or raise the big blind or choose to fold. This initial round, called the ‘pre-flop’ continues until all of the players have put an equal amount of chips into the pot (or have folded). The second round is called the ‘flop’ because the first of the three board cards are revealed and in this round, the first player to bet is once again the person positioned immediately clockwise to the button. The following round begins the same, as did the previous one during, which the fourth board card is turned over. The fifth and final card is revealed in the round known as ‘the river’ and presumes the same way as did the other rounds and is the last round of betting. Ultimately, all players hands are revealed during the ‘showdown’ round, beginning with the last person to have made a bet or raise; however, if no bets were placed in the last round then the person immediately clockwise from the button assumes the position again.
The winner or winners of the Omaha Hi-Lo game is determined by the best qualifying low hand and the best qualifying high hand and if identical hands are present, then the two players split the pot. Likewise, if no qualifying low hand, the player with the best high hand wins the entire pot.