Over the past few years, the poker variant of Omaha Hi-Lo has grown by huge proportions, and it is one of the most popular games available at online poker sites today.
The attraction of Omaha Hi-Lo (also known as Omaha High Low and Omaha 8 or Better) is made that much greater thanks to the huge pots that are played out for in this game, as well as due to the fast paced action and complex game rules that prove a challenge for poker lovers.
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Omaha Hi-Lo in a Nutshell
Omaha Hi-Lo is essentially a variant of Texas Hold'em, which is considered the number one poker game in the world, both online and off. It is a nine card poker game that is played between two to ten players with up to four distinct betting rounds. Each player is dealt four hole cards (private cards) for his use only. The dealer will deal five community cards face up during the course of the game. The objective of Omaha Hi-Lo is to make the best five card hand poker possible using two cards out of the four hold cards, as well as three cards from the community cards.
The pot at the end of the game is divided between the player who managed to make the best hand for the high, and the player who made the best hand for the low. This is why the game is called Omaha Hi-Lo. The best high hand will always win part of the pot, however there are limitations to the lowest hand winning. This hand will need to meet specifications as dictated by Omaha Hi-Lo rules – ie. that it needs to have denominations that are not higher than eight, nor can it contain pairs. The hand should be at least 8-7-6-5-4 low in order to win this portion of the pot. Should there be no qualifying low hand in the game, the high hand winner takes the entire pot.
There are several versions of Omaha Hi-Lo offered, with the main difference between them being the limits for betting rounds and the amount of chips played.
Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo - The player needs to bet the amount of chips in the pot.
Limit Omaha Hi-Lo - There is one specific betting limit in each game and round.
No Limit Omaha Hi-Lo - No limit is placed on the betting amounts and a player can wager all the chips he has available.
Mixed Omaha Hi-Lo - This version alternates between rounds of Limit and Pot Limit Omaha. The stake levels are kept consistent by increasing the blinds when the game alternates between Pot Limit to Limit.
Blinds in Omaha Hi-Lo Poker
Before a game of Omaha Hi-Lo commences, the first forced bet, called the ‘small blind’ is posted. Another bet in this game is the ‘big blind’ which is traditionally twice the size of the small blind. However, the rules of the blinds sizes can vary from game to game and they depend on the stakes and betting structure.
Blinds in Limit games - The big blind is the same as the small bet, while the small blind is half the size of the big blind. So, for example, a $2/$4 Omaha Hi-Lo Limit game will see the small blind posted at $1 and the big blind at $2.
Blinds in Pot Limit and No Limit games - The size of the blinds determine the games. For example, a $1/$2 Omaha Hi-Lo game will have a big blind of $2 and a small blind of $1.
Betting in Omaha Hi-Lo Poker
As with most variants of poker, Omaha Hi-Lo players can choose to take certain actions when betting in the game, namely – fold, check, bet, call or raise.
- Fold: To discard the poker cards and give up any interest in the pot.
- Check: To decline to bet but keep the cards.
- Bet: To place a bet. Subsequent players can then fold, call or raise.
- Call: To match the amount of chips that the previous player wagered.
- Raise: To not only match the previous player’s bet, but also to increase it.
The Sequence of Play in Omaha Hi-Lo Poker
The Preflop Stage
- The dealer button indicates which player has been selected to act as dealer in the current game.
- The player nearest to the dealer’s left posts the small blind, while the player to the small blind’s immediate left posts the big blind.
- Each player is dealt four hole cards (private cards) by the dealer. Only the player can see his own cards.
- Betting begins in a clockwise position around the table, beginning with the player clockwise from the big blind.
- The players have a choice to play the hand by calling or raising the big blind.
- Betting continues on the betting rounds until all players (excluding those who have folded) have placed equal bets in the pot.
- Once the first round of betting has been completed, the dealer begins the ‘flop’ stage, ie. dealing cards face up on the board. Three of these cards are dealt for all players to use.
- Another betting round begins with the active player clockwise from the button.
- All bets are increments of the small bet at this stage of the game when Limit Omaha Hi-Lo is being played out.
- After the betting round is completed, the dealer deals a fourth community card, known as the ‘turn’, for all players to use.
- Play continues with the active player immediately clockwise from the dealer.
- All bets are in increments of the big bet when Limit Omaha Hi-Lo Poker is being played.
- After the betting round is completed, the dealer deals the fifth and final community card on the board, known as the ‘river’ for all players to use.
- Betting continues with the active player immediately clockwise from the dealer.
- Should there be more than one remaining player at this stage of the game, the last person who bet needs to show his cards to everyone else.
- The player who formed the best five card hand for high takes home half the pot.
- The player who formed the best five card hand for low takes home the other half.
- If identical hands were formed, high and low shares are divided equally between all those players with the best hands.
- Should no hand qualify for the best low hand, the best high hand takes home the entire pot.
Special Rules for Limit, Pot Limit and No Limit Omaha Hi-Lo
Although all three of these versions of Omaha Hi-Lo carry the same rules, there are a few exceptions that should be noted.
Limit Omaha Hi-Lo
- Players wager pre-determined, structured amounts.
- During the pre-flop and flop rounds, the bets and raises in the game are equal in size to the big blind.
- During the turn and river rounds, the size of bets and raises automatically double.
- Up to four bets are allowed during each betting round per player.
Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo
- The minimum bet is the same size as the big blind.
- Players are entitled to bet up to the size of the pot.
- The minimum raise in Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo must be at least as much as the previous bet or raise in the same round.
- The maximum raise is the size of the pot, as well as all bets around the table, plus the amount that the active player needs to call before raising.
- There is no cap on the number of raises that are allowed.
No Limit Omaha Hi-Lo
- The minimum bet is the same size as the big blind.
- Players, however, can wager as much as they want as long as they have that number of chips.
- The raise amount must be at least as much as the previous bet or raise in the same round.
- The maximum raise in No Limit Omaha Hi-Lo is the size of the stack of chips.
- There is no cap on the number or raises allowed
Omaha Hi-Lo Poker Hand Ranking Chart
Omaha Hi-Lo Poker Hand Rankings Descriptions
||A straight flush involving Ten, Jack, Queen, King and Ace
||Five sequential cards of the same suit with the high card being less than an ace
|Four of a Kind
||Four cards with the same value
||Three cards of the same value and a separate pair of cards of the same value
|| Five cards of the same suit
|| Five cards with sequential values (cards of any suits)
|Three of a Kind
|| Three cards with the same value
||Two separate pairs of cards with the same value
||Two cards of the same value
||No other combination, the value of the highest card wins
The extra angle of trying to make the best lowest hand certainly adds an element of excitement to Omaha Hi-Lo. Players need to familiarize themselves with the different rules of this game in order to progress and become good at Omaha Hi-Lo, and many online poker sites offer free software that can be downloaded and played in order to hone skills and boost confidence in the game.
With its fast paced action and similarity to many of the rules of Texas Hold'em, it comes as no surprise that Omaha Hi-Lo is considered one of the most exciting and popular poker variants around.
Posted by CCJ Team