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Omaha Hi-Lo Poker: The Game for Demanding Players

Omaha Hi-Lo is even more complex Poker game than Omaha Hold'em (Omaha High). In principle the rules are common, however, as the name of the game suggests, a player can go for the best high and low hand. Due to a great number of combinations and a possibility to split the pot, Omaha Hi-Lo brings a very rich play and is favored by those players who can swiftly assess all risks and opportunities.

There are also other names used for Omaha Hi-Lo: Omaha Hi-Lo/8, Omaha/8, Eight-or-Better, Better Split. Tip: If you a novice to Poker, we recommend going through Poker rules, types and hand rankings first.

The basic rules are identical with Omaha High that is related to the phenomenal Texas Hold'em Poker. Though there is an extra rule.

Hi-Lo means that the pot can be split in halves, whereas one half can be won by a player with the highest hand (Hi) and the second half can be won by a player with the lowest hand (Lo). It is also possible that there is no lowest hand and the whole pot then belongs to the player with the highest hand (like in Omaha High).

What is the Lo Hand & How Is It Assessed?

It is important to know what the Lo hand is. Lo hand is any combination of five cards with the Eight as the highest possible card. The Lo hand does not necessarily have to be a Straight of tightly following cards. On the contrary, the Lo hand can be imagined as a Straight, where the "holes" are possible, such as e.g. A-2-6-7-8 or 2-3-4-5-7.

It may happen for instance that a player with the cards A-2-3-4-5 has the best Lo hand and at the same time this Straight is also the highest (Hi) hand in the game. Then the player wins the whole pot. As it is said: "Cards speak!"

As in "ordinary" Omaha (Hold'em or High) one always needs to remember that exactly two own (pocket) cards and exactly three community cards (on the board) must be used to make one's best hand. Therefore it is impossible to make the Lo hand unless there are at least three different cards from A to 8 on the board! An Ace is considered to be the weakest card in the Lo hand.

The lower the hand, the stronger it is. If more players manage to make the Lo hand, then the following procedure applies. The determination of the strength of the Lo hand starts from the highest card, not from the lowest card. Therefore e.g. A-2-3-6-7 is a weaker hand than 2-3-4-5-7. The highest card 7 is the same, but the second highest card is decisive because 5 is lower than 6 (even though the first hand begins with an Ace). Illustratively:

The Lo hand A♠ 2♥ 3♣ 6♠ 7♠ is weaker than the Lo hand 2♦ 3♦ 4♠ 5♥ 7♠.

Examples of Splitting the Pot between High & Low Hand

Imagine there are three players remaining in the game and the pot is 400 chips. The cards are the following:

1st player: A♠ A♥ J♠ 9♠

2nd player: K♦ 2♥ 3♣ 6♠, on the board: 4♠ 5♦ 7♣ (Flop) A♦ (Turn) A♣ (River)

3rd player: 2♦ 3♦ 5♥ 7♠

What are the best hands the players make and what is the outcome of this game? As always we have to consider that each player must use exactly two pocket cards and exactly three community cards in order to make their best hand as it is illustrated below. As the second and the third players manage to make their Lo hand, the pot will be split in halves.

The first player with the cards A♠ A♥ (from his hand) + A♦ A♣ 7♣ (from the board) has a beautiful hand Four of a Kind, thus the strongest high hand and he wins one half of the pot (200 chips).

The second player makes the Lo hand 2♥ 3♣ + A♦ 4♠ 5♦.

So does the third player with the cards 2♦ 3♦ + A♦ 4♠ 5♦.

They have got an equal Lo hand; therefore the second half of the pot (designated for the best Lo hand) is to be split between them. Each of them wins 100 chips. The first player wins 200 chips as there is no need for him to share the pot for the highest hand. One has to take these possibilities into consideration when playing Omaha Hi-Lo!

Change of Events in Omaha Hi-Lo

Let us give another example of how the best low hand can fade away easily in Omaha Hi-Lo. If your pocket cards are e.g. A-2-J-Q and the Flop cards are 6-7-8, then there is no better Lo hand than yours (A-2-6-7-8). But if A or 2 appear on the Turn or the River, thus those two cards that have made your best Lo hand, then your Lo hand is in danger.

Imagine that the cards 6-7-8-K-2 appear on the board. Your Lo hand is still A-2-6-7-8, but if any other player holds A-3, A-4 or A-5 he or she makes better Lo hand than you as he or she does not need to use the Eight. The respective Lo hands are: A-2-3-6-7, A-2-4-6-7 or A-2-5-6-7. The new cards on the Turn and the River (A or 2) increase your risks and decrease your opportunities.

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