One of my favorite poker variations is Omaha Hi/Lo. It is often wild
and always fun. The great thing about Omaha Hi/Lo is that someone always
has a great hand and any four starting cards can win a portion of the
pot. There is not nearly as much waiting for something good to play
as you often experience in Hold’Em.
If you are just learning to play poker you need to review the one thing every poker game has in common: Hand Ranking. Check out the Poker Hand Rankings to see the strengths in order from best to worst. At the end of each poker hand, the player with the five card combination ranked highest on the Poker Hand Ranking list wins half of the pot if there is a Qualifying Low hand. If there is no Qualifying Low hand the High hand wins the entire pot. In Omaha Hi/Lo, as in most other Low variations, a Qualifying Low hand consists of any 5 different cards lower than an 8. Straights and Flushes do not count against the Low hand so Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, all of hearts, is the lowest hand you can get and has the same Low value as the same hand with multiple suits. A, 2, 3, 4, 5 of hearts will probably also win you the half of the pot given to the High hand (Straight Flush).
Omaha Hi/Lo is played the same as Omaha, except for the way the pot is split at the end of the hand. Omaha, in its simplest form, is a variation of poker where every player at the table first receives four cards face down. After a round of bets by all players, three cards are placed on the table face up (these three cards are called The Flop). After another round of betting a fourth card is placed face up on the table (this card is called The Turn). After another round of betting the fifth and final card is placed face up on the table (this card is called The River). After all five community cards are face up on the table, a final round of betting takes place and the players left in the hand show their four face-down cards. The player who has the five card combination consisting of two cards in their hand and three face-up cards on the table of the highest Hand Ranking wins the hand. If there is a Qualifying Low, hand half of the pot goes to the player with that hand.
Betting and the Ante
Betting moves clockwise and always starts with the player to the left of the dealer. Omaha Hi/Lo usually has forced bets called Blinds. Before each hand is dealt, the player immediately to the left of the dealer places a bet called the small blind and the player to the left of this player places a larger bet called the big blind. The amount of the blinds is set beforehand and is typically an indicator of the size of the pots at the table. A table with a $5 big blind will produce bigger pots than a table with a $2 big blind. At a $2 table the small blind is usually $1 and the big blind will be $2.
The first round of betting (when all players have four face-down cards) requires a minimum bet equal to at least the amount of the big blind to stay in the hand. The round of betting following The Flop also requires a minimum bet equal to the big blind. The last two rounds of betting (after the 4th and 5th face up cards) require a minimum bet equal to twice the big blind.
If you were involved in a typical hand of Omaha Hi/Lo poker at a $1 big blind limit table your experience may go something like this:
- You are dealt Ace, King Spades and 9, 2 of Hearts face down;
- Betting starts with the player to the left of the Big Blind and he calls $1;
- You and two other players after you call the $1 bet, everyone else folds;
- The flop is placed face up on the table and is 4, 8, 10;
- The player to the left of the dealer bets $1, you call the bet with $1;
- The other two players fold leaving you and the betting player;
- The Turn is a 5 giving you a Qualifying Low (Ace, 2, 4, 5, 8);
- The other player bets $2 (minimum bet now);
- You raise $2 by putting $4 in the pot, the other player calls $2;
- The last card is flipped face up (The River) and is a Queen;
- The player to the left of the dealer Checks (bets nothing);
- You bet $2 and the other player calls it by putting $2 in the pot.
Now the two of you show your facedown cards. Your opponent shows a straight, 10 through Ace and wins half the pot with the best High hand. You have the best Low hand possible and win the other half of the pot.
Poker hand rankings
5 Card Stud rules
5 Card Draw rules
7 Card Stud rules
Omaha Hi/Lo rules
Texas Holdem rules
Lowball and Razz poker rules
Crazy Pineapple rules
Triple Draw poker rules