Omaha Hi-Lo Poker – Challenges That Don’t Exist When You Play High Only

Posted on May 8, 2015 by Denise Marie

Omaha Poker is a community card poker variation that shares some similarities with other community card games such as Texas Hold’em. The differences, however, are quite great. The similarities attract many new Omaha players but the differences sometimes make it difficult to adjust to Omaha poker. A player who wishes to have a substantial advantage over other Omaha players will work hard at learning the vital nuances of Omaha. It’s not all that hard to do and can reap rich rewards.


Click to learn more on how to play Omaha Hi-Lo Poker

The big difference in Omaha over other community card games is this: players must use three community cards and two hole cards to form their hand.

Players receive four hole cards but use only two of them.

This is by far the area where new players and even the occasional veteran trip up. To repeat: although you get four hole cards you can and you must use only two of them; and although there are five community cards you can and must use only three of them.

Many hole-card holdings are not as good as they look because you can play only two hole cards.

The Omaha Hi-Lo variation presents strategy challenges that don’t exist when you play high only. It is important, before the flop, to honestly evaluate your hand in light of the rule stated above. New players need to study closely how to evaluate their low-hand possibilities. Ace through five is the best low hand, and is not considered a straight if it is being played as a low hand. Most games require that the low hand be headed by an eight or less. This actually makes a low hand headed by an eight a weak low hand. It will not win many low hand showdowns.

Because the low hand must be headed by eight or less, there are hands without a qualifying low hand. In that case, the high hand wins the entire pot.

It is also not uncommon for players to share the winning low hand. Then they divide the half of the pot that goes to the low hand. It is called “being quartered” and renders betting on the low end unsound in some cases.

A disk, called the button, rotates from hand to hand. The button is the “dealer”. Even if the house deals, we need a “dealer” to know who the blinds are.

Play Sequence

This part will seem familiar to community-card players.

The small blind is to the dealer’s left. S/he bets a fraction, usually a half, of the minimum bet.

The big blind is to the small blind’s left. S/he must usually make a bet equal to the minimum bet.

Unlike antes, the blinds are bets. In the first round they must be called, at least.

Each player receives four down cards.

The first round of betting takes place, beginning with the small blind. S/he must, at least, call the big blind. S/he may also raise. Folding is, of course, an option. It is true that no one likes folding, but it is the best play for most players, on most hands, at this point.

After betting round one, the flop is revealed on the board. The flop is three community cards. Because there will ultimately be nine cards in play, many players stay to see the flop.

The next round of betting begins. This round and the next two as well, are begun by the player to the left of the big blind.

After the second round is over the turn card is revealed.

Another round of betting takes place.

Then the river card comes out.

The last round of betting ensues.

At the showdown, it is determined if there is a qualifying low hand. If so, the pot is divided between the high hand and the low hand.

Players must use two hole cards and three community cards to determine their hand.

If a player is playing both high and low, s/he may use different hole and community cards for the two hands.

Betting Rules

In most games, there will be betting limits.

The first two rounds are played at the lower limit and the last two rounds are played at the upper limit.

Some games have pot limits. This allows bets equal to the pot at any given time. New and inexperienced players are advised to stay away from pot limit games.

In Omaha, no-limit games are not common.

The blinds make their bets first.

The first round is begun by the small blind.

All subsequent rounds are begun by the player to the big blind’s left.

Most tables limit the number of raises to three.


A Pair is more of a restriction than an advantage. If one of the Pair is a communal card of the same value as one your hidden pocket low cards, this means that your hidden pock card won’t give you a low-hand advantage.

When there are less than four Players at the table, you still lose money if the pot is quartered.

Decide quickly if you are eligible to play the low hand, and adjust your betting accordingly.

If you have a strong high hand after the flop, it is advisable to play aggressively through to the end. This ensures that you have a good chance to winning at least half of the pot.


Omaha Hi-Lo Poker is an intricate game because of the winning variations. You need to think carefully, are you going for the highest qualifying hand, the lowest, or both? The object of Omaha Hi-Lo is to finish with the either the highest qualifying hand, or the lowest qualifying poker hand, and split the pot.