This text aims to provide you with an introduction on how to play and win in a loose Omaha Hi-Lo game.
Strategy Guide for Limit Omaha Hi-Lo (cash game)
- Key Advice and Common Mistakes
- Pre-Flop Play
- Flop Play
- On the Turn
- On the River
- Starting Hands
- Odds and Statistics
Loose Omaha Hi-Lo is when five or more people see the flop on average. It is a fascinating game, quite different from any other form of poker. This game has become increasingly popular due to the fact there is so much action involved.
In loose Omaha Hi-Lo, the expert player does not have a huge edge over the intermediate player, but both have a considerable edge over the weak player. Loose Omaha Hi-Lo is a hand-value-driven game, which means that there is not much bluffing or semi-bluffing involved.
Keep in mind that the strategies outlined in this text are for beating a loose Omaha Hi-Lo game. Some of them may not work in a tight/aggressive high-limit Omaha Hi-Lo game. The article assumes basic knowledge of the rules and structure of the game.
If you are unsure about what it means to scoop the pot, get quartered or counterfeited or know how to calculate pot odds, we recommend that you refer to the book suggestions at the end of this article.
Note: all information contained in this article consists of general advice on how to play. Remember that in poker there are always exceptions to the rules.
Key skills to winning in a Limit Omaha Hi-Lo game
- Seldom raise before the flop.
- Remember that your aim is to scoop the pot.
- Be able to fold on the flop very often.
- Play premium starting hands.
- Select your table carefully. Only play in loose games where five or more players see the flop on average.
- Be skilled at calculating pot odds.
Key Advice and Common Mistakes
Key advice for Limit Omaha Hi-Lo
- In general, you should only play hands that include A-2, A-3 or 2-3 for low hand, though of course a backup low card confers additional value.
- You should usually only play hands that have four cards (9 and higher) for high hand. In order to mix up your play, you should occasionally play A-4 suited and A-5 suited if the other two cards also work well with the hand.
- Fold most hands that include a 7, 8 or 9. Most of these hands have a negative expected value.
- When you hit a good flop, play more aggressively.
- Fold your hand on the flop very often.
- Play hands that are capable of scooping the pot.
- Do not play after the flop if you do not have the nut potential.
- Occasionally bluff on the river if there is not a low hand out.
- You should bluff infrequently.
- Only play the more marginal starting hands in late position, when several players have called in front of you.
Common mistakes in Limit Omaha Hi-Lo
- Playing too many starting hands.
- Calling all the way with only a high or low potential.
- Seeing flops with four middle cards, like 6-7-8-9.
- Raising with A-2 in early position and making players fold instead of seeing the flop cheaply with more players in.
- Calling on the flop with only a low draw when the flop comes with two high cards.
- Calling on the flop with only a high draw when the flop comes with two low cards.
Starting hand guide for Limit Omaha Hi-Lo (full table, 8-10 players)
The best starting hands in Omaha Hi-Lo are A-A-2-3 double-suited followed by A-A-2-4 double-suited. This kind of hand is very strong because it can be played for both high and low, which gives it great scoop potential. Of course, being suited or (even better) double-suited adds value to every hand.
|Good starting hands|
|A-2-x-x (suited ace)|
|2-3-4-5 (fold if there is no ace on the flop)|
|2-3-4-x (fold if there is no ace on the flop)|
Any four cards between a ten and an ace.
A hand like A-4-4-4 suited is a trap hand. With this hand, you do not have much high potential and chances are that you will make second-best low hand. The odds for winning the low hand are only 1% and for making a flush, only 4%.
Hands that hold two gaps are often best to fold. The chances of making a straight are under 1% and you seldom win the low (for example, A-4-5-9).
Hands like 3-4-5-6, 4-5-6-7, 5-6-7-8 and 6-7-8-9 are hands that have a negative expected value. You will not win enough times with the low hand and will too seldom make the nut straight.
High pairs with two random cards like K-K-x-x or Q-Q-x-x are not playable, although a high pair with two low cards that also make your hand double-suited is playable in most games. For example K-K-2-4 double-suited is playable.
- You should play approximately 30%-35% of your hands.
- Generally, you should only play hands that include an A-2, A-3 or 2-3 for low hand.
- As a rule, you should only play hands that have four cards at least nine and higher for high hand. An exception is A-9 hands with two big cards; this type of hand should not normally be played at all.
- You should occasionally play A-4 suited and A-5 suited if the other two cards work well with the hand.
- Usually, do not raise in early position with your good A-2 hands. Instead, raise with it in late position when there are several callers in front of you. This type of raise builds the pot when you are likely to have the best hand going in.
Raising before the flop
You should not raise in early position with your premium hands in loose Omaha Hi-Lo. You do not want to reduce the field and commit a lot of money until you have seen the flop. If you are sitting in late position and there are a couple of limpers in front of you, then you should raise in order to build the pot.
Again, if you hold an A-A and a low card (like a two or three) or an ace suited, do not raise before the flop in early position. You want to avoid forcing your opponents to fold since these types of hands work very well in multi-way pots.
You could raise with pocket aces and two high cards from an early position to limit the field, since this type of hand plays well short-handed. An exception to raising would be if the raise is not likely to limit the field. If that is the case, it is most beneficial to call. However, if the flop comes with two or three low cards, fold this hand.
Four low cards
With this type of hand it is hard to scoop the pot and you do not flop the nut low hand often enough to make this hand profitable. If you do not hold an A-2, A-3 or 2-3, avoid playing this type of hand.
Four high cards
This type of hand can be worth playing for a high hand though you should be prepared to fold if there are two or three low cards on the flop.
You should only play this type of hand if you have two other good cards to go with your high pair. For example, if your hand is double-suited and/or has low potential, like a Q-Q-2-3 double-suited.
- Count the pot and the number of outs you have to make your hand and then determine if it is profitable to draw.
- You should only call with a drawing hand if you think you will get paid off if you hit.
- Consider which opponents you are up against and how they play their hands.
- Be prepared to fold your hand on the flop very often.
- When you hit, play more aggressively.
- Be ready to raise in a big pot if the flop gives you many different draws. A good example is if you hit a something like a weak flush draw, a third-best low draw and an inside straight draw. You should then raise to force your opponents out and give your hand a better chance to win if you hit. However, be prepared to release your hand if there is heavy action behind you.
- Do not draw for a low when the flop comes with two high cards. Similarly, do not draw for a high when the flop comes with two low cards, unless your hand consists of additional values, such as a flush draw.
Three low cards on the flop
- If you flop a straight draw and there exists no chance for a low, FOLD.
- If you flop a flush draw (not the nut flush draw) and there exists no chance for a low, FOLD.
- If you flop the nut flush draw and there exists no chance for a low, CALL/FOLD depending on the size of the pot.
Two suited cards on the flop
- If you have the flush draw and no low draw, only go for the flush if it is the nut flush draw.
- If there is a pair on the board, you should release your flush and straight draws.
On the Turn
- Play a straightforward game.
- In general, you should fold if there are three suited cards on the board and you do not have the flush.
- It is best to fold if there is a pair on the board and you do not have trips or a full house.
- You should fold if there is a potential straight on the board and you do not have a good draw for a better hand.
- If you have the nut hand, you should usually attempt a check-raise.
On the River
- You should basically play the same as on the turn.
- Play aggressively if you think you have the best hand.
- Occasionally you can bluff if there is no possibility of a low hand.
With four cards in Omaha it is possible to create 16,432 unique combinations. This fact, combined with the possibilities of winning with both a low and a high hand, makes a top list of starting hands in loose Omaha Hi-Lo different from other poker games.
Since there are so many more kinds of playable hands in loose Omaha Hi-Lo than in Hold'em, a list limited to the top 100 starting hands leaves out too many playable four-card combinations.
However, the list compiled for this article should provide you with a good idea of what type of starting hands are strong in loose Omaha Hi-Lo.
Premium starting hands
It is essential that you consider how all of the hands above vary in strength, depending on the x-card/s and whether the hand is non-suited, suited or double-suited.
All x-cards containing a 6-9 usually weaken the hand. However, in general, all of these combinations are strong hands in loose Omaha Hi-Lo.
For example, an A-2-K-K double-suited is significantly stronger than an A-2-Q-8 non-suited, even though both hands belong in the A-2-x-x category. Furthermore, an A-A-K-K double-suited is quite a bit stronger than an A-A-Q-7 non-suited, etc.
The Top Ten list
- A-A-2-3 double-suited
- A-A-2-4 double-suited
- A-A-2-3 suited
- A-A-2-5 double-suited
- A-A-2-4 suited
- A-A-3-4 double-suited
- A-A-2-3 non-suited
- A-A-2-2 double-suited
- A-A-3-5 double-suited
- A-A-2-6 double-suited
Odds and Statistics
If you hold a hand such as A-2-3-4, there is a 5.6% chance that the flop will not contain any low card, a 32% probability that it will include one low card, a 45.6% possibility that it will contain two low cards and a 16.2% chance that the flop contains all low cards.
If you have a high hand, the chance of a high flop containing two or three high cards is 30%.
You are dealt an A-2-x-x about 6.2% of the time and an A-2-3-x about 1% of the time.
If you hold an A-2 in a nine-handed game, there is a 36% likelihood that one or more players also hold an A-2.
In a nine-handed game about 50% of all players will be dealt a pocket pair before the flop.
If the board has not paired on the flop or the turn, it will pair on the river 27.3% of the time.
List of outs to help you calculate pot odds
Outs are the number of cards that will improve your hand. For instance, you hold two clubs and two clubs are on the board. There are nine clubs left in the deck. You now have nine outs to make a flush.
|Number of Outs||% in Turn||% in River|
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