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Omaha Hi/Lo Poker Strategy

By Gary Steele

I have never read anything on Limit Omaha Hi/Lo, so this is not an official strategy guide taken from all the other advice you see. I will admit, I have a lot to learn about the game, but the strategies I outline below do work. I have found it much easier to win Omaha Hi/Lo than Hold’Em, though the swings are not as violent. You will not have huge sessions of success followed by long periods of losses. I guess this just means Omaha Hi/Lo is not as exciting or profitable, but it is a nice calm way to pass the time and can easily be played without the constant attention Hold’Em demands.

My philosophy is that a player should always try to win the Low hand and should base their entire strategy on this. The High hand is so volatile it does not usually make sense to try to win it from any position, even with the best cards. There are usually just so many people in each hand that flopping a Set (Three of a Kind) is rarely enough to win the High hand. Occasionally you will get lucky and win the High hand as well when trying for the Low hand.

Any two of the lowest three cards is a very playable hand. With this combination you only need the missing third card on the flop to have the lowest Low hand possible. For example, if you are dealt 2, 3 in the hole, you just need an Ace to have the lowest hand possible. However, if you are dealt a 2, 4 you need to see an Ace and a Three to have a guaranteed Low hand.

You will not see these extremely low hands very often, but there are other hands you can play. You really need to have at least two of the lowest five cards for playing any hand. When trying to make a decision on whether to play marginal cards use:

  1. Position – Are you first to act with many people raising behind you? Would you play the hand for twice the Big Blind?
  2. Draws – Do you have a good Straight, Flush, or Full House draw?

With a little experience you will quickly be able to pick these opportunities out.

It is often profitable in Limit Omaha Hi/Lo to see the turn for one bet with a lot of outs, but don’t pay double the blind to see the river unless:

  1. You have an incredible number of outs;
  2. The pot is large;
  3. If you get any of the cards you are looking for you are guaranteed a win.

Keep in mind you are only usually playing to win half the pot so you have to calculate your odds on this amount. Calling one bet on the Flop to see the Turn shows you a cheap card and you get the implied odds of the bets after the Turn and River if you get the card you need.

Omaha Hi/Lo is a game of patience. Don’t be frustrated by the very long periods with nothing to play. If you only play good hands you will win in the long run, it will just happen slowly. Let your opponents play the trash and take advantage of their bad play when you have good cards.

Make sure your table is wild and loose. You want people sitting with you who will play anything they are dealt. In Omaha Hi/Lo you will have the High and Low Nuts (best hand) much more often than Hold’Em. When you have the cards, you want money in the pot, and lots of it.

Don’t be afraid to check when you are on a draw. I only bet on a draw when I am in late position, have a lot of outs, and have a chance to see a free River card. Omaha Hi/Lo is a game where everyone has a lot of outs. One bet is not going to typically chase people out of the hand. Plus, someone else will occasionally make the bet for you hiding the strength of your hand. Bluffs do not usually work. Make sure you bet when you have good cards. Like I said, people generally have lots of outs and will call you. Slow Playing does not usually get more money in the pot like it does in Hold’Em.

The Lo pot is often shared by more than one player. Do not pump the pot as high as it will go just because you have the best Lo hand possible. This usually results in two things. First, you end up paying a lot more rake for a pot that is probably going to be split evenly anyway. Second, you are giving half of each bet to the player with the high hand, while you are only getting a quarter of each bet if you split the low.

I hope you enjoy playing Omaha Hi/Lo as much as I do. It is a great game that is winnable if you are patient, even for beginners.

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