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Omaha Hi-Lo: Basic Omaha Starting Hands & Strategy Tips
The most important decisions in Omaha Hi-Lo are made preflop, so it's crucial to know which hands to play and not to play.
Of course, the hands you play vary according to the information you have when making a decision.
Omaha Hi-Lo is a hand-driven game, meaning there is not much bluffing involved and usually the player with the best hand wins.
The best Omaha Hi-Lo starting hands have good potential to win both the high and the low.
Premium Starting Hands
It is essential that you consider how all of the above hands vary in strength, depending on the x-card/s and whether the hand is non-suited, suited or double-suited.
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.
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.
Please note that in the list below the abbreviation DS refers to a hand that is double-suited.
The Top 10 List
- A-A-2-3 DS
- A-A-2-4 DS
- A-A-2-3 Suited
- A-A-2-5 DS
- A-A-2-4 Suited
- A-A-3-4 DS
- A-A-2-3 Non-suited
- A-A-2-2 DS
- A-A-3-5 DS
- A-A-2-6 DS
|Playable 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 10 and an ace.|
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How to Play Hands with A-2: A Case Study
Omaha Hi-Lo will often play any hand that contains an A-2 regardless of the other two cards. While a hand containing A-2 does indeed have potential for the nut low, you need to be careful playing just any A-2 hand.
Not all A-2 hands are created equal; here's some to stay away from.
A-2 With Unsuited and Uncoordinated Cards
Hands with A-2 that are unsuited and uncoordinated are among the worst to play. Hands such as A-2-6-9 unsuited should only played sparingly. You're need to catch three cards for your straight and you're gapped as well.
If the deuce gets counterfeited, your hand is virtually worthless.
A-A-A-2 or A-2-2-2
Three aces with a deuce or three deuces with an ace are also terrible A-2 hands. In most cases you should fold this hand unless in the blinds. Even getting a suited A-2 here makes playing the hand marginal at best.
In most cases, the only way you're going to scoop here is to either catch a wheel or catch the case ace (or deuce) and the board produce another pair.
A-2 with Non-Nut Flush Holdings
Hands such as A-2 with two non-nut suited cards are hands that should be played carefully. Even if you make the flush, chances are it will not win as it will be second best or worse.
Often, the only way you're going to win any part of the pot with this hand is to get low. In most cases, you're going to throw money away chasing.
A-2 with Coordinated Trap Cards
A-2 with either 6-7,7-8, 6-8, 8-9, or even 7-9 are hands that you probably should only play in the blind. Sevens through nines are considered trap cards in Omaha Hi-Lo that will often give you the 2nd best hand for high.
If the ace is suited, this hand becomes a bit strong, but then you're looking to get your flush and low rather than hoping for a middling straight.
Many of the above hands are ones that you should only play in the blind unless you're playing against really bad opponents. You don't not want to call a raise with them.
Yes, you are starting with the two best low cards but when you have little to go with them, you are gambling for 1/2 the pot at best. Remember that counterfeiting is a definite possibility in the game. Do you really want to gamble for 1/4th of the pot?
Remember that not all A-2 hands are created equal and remember the above hands the next time you play. By playing these hands carefully, you will find yourself chasing less and avoiding big trap situations.