Omaha Hi-Lo, or O8 as it’s commonly called, are becoming more popular again both live and online. When the poker boom hit, a significant number of Omaha players moved to Hold'em, as that's where all the games and action were. Now interest in Omaha has been rekindled thanks to its heavy online poker action and complexity of play compared to No-Limit Hold’em.
Almost every live and online poker room spreads Omaha as an alternate variation to Hold'em. Stud and its variants are most commonly limited to the larger American casinos, while Omaha is more universal. Learning to play this game will open up the door for making massive profit against players unable to remove themselves from their Texas Hold'em mindsets.
The majority of O8 games you will play - especially at the lower limits - will be very active and aggressive games with upward of five players seeing a flop every hand. This is even common in many higher-limit games! For the sake of this beginner Omaha Hi-Lo Strategy guide we'll map out basic beginner strategy for playing O8 in a loose-aggressive cash-game.
On this page, you'll find the the basic rules of how a Omaha Hi-Lo poker game works, and the key differences between Omaha High and Omaha Hi-Lo. However, if you're not yet familiar with the rules and game play of standard Omaha High poker, check out these articles first:
Play Free Omaha Poker Hi-Lo Online
If you're looking to try out some Omaha Hi-Lo poker games online you can play them entirely free without having to make a deposit. Simply create a new account at one of the poker sites above that offer Omaha Hi-Lo games and search the "Play Money" lobby for the Omaha Hi-Lo tables. You likely won't find too much action there but you will have a chance to try out the game for free. Once you're ready to play for real money you can easily make a deposit to your account and move over to the real money Omaha Hi-Lo tables.
Omaha Hi-Lo Rules - The Showdown
Assuming you understand how to play Omaha High, let's look at what distinguishes the two games. Omaha Hi-Lo is a "split pot" game, meaning that at showdown, the pot is divided in half, with one half being awarded to the winning best hand, and the other half to the best qualifying "low hand."
The winning high hand in Omaha Hi-Lo is identical to that of Omaha High. There are no qualification requirements for the high, meaning there will always be a winning high hand.
Low hands must qualify to be eligible for winning the low half of the pot.
- A low hand is composed of any two cards from a player's hand, and any three cards from the board (community cards).
- The cards a player uses for his best High hand have no effect on the low. The player can use the same cards, different ones or a combination from his hand.
- A qualifying low hand is defined as five unpaired cards, all with ranks at or below 8.
- Aces are considered low for the low hand.
- Flushes and straights are ignored for the low, meaning the best low possible is A-2-3-4-5 regardless of suits.
- Low hands are counted from the top down, meaning the hand is only as good as its highest card.
- 2 2 3 3 5 5 6 6 7 7 is lower than A A 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 5
- Any hand with a pair, or with a card higher than 8, does not qualify, even if the rank of the pair is below 8.
- Suits do not count toward a low; any players sharing the exact same low must equally split the low half of the pot. (Winning half of the Low pot, and nothing from the High pot is known as being quartered.)
Omaha Hi-Lo Poker Hand Rules:
- Board: 4 4 5 5 7 7 Q Q A A
- Hand 1: A A 2 2 K K K K
- Hand 2: A A 3 3 Q Q Q Q
High Winner: Hand 2 wins with three-of-a-kind queens: Q Q Q Q Q Q A A 7 7
Low Winner: Hand 1 wins with a 7-5-4-2 Low: 7 7 5 5 4 4 2 2 A A
Omaha Hi-Lo Scoop Rules:
- Board: K K 3 3 4 4 8 8 2 2
- Hand 1: A A 2 2 Q Q K K
- Hand 2: 6 6 7 7 10 10 J J
High Winner: Hand 2 wins with a flush, jack-high: 2 2 3 3 4 4 10 10 J J
Low Winner: Hand 2 Wins with a 7-6 Low: 7 7 6 6 4 4 3 3 2 2
In this pot, Hand 2 scoops with the best high and the best low. Many players will think that Hand 1 will win the low because A-2 is a lot lower than 6-7.
Unfortunately, Hand 1 pairs his 2 on the river, meaning he has to use the 8 as his fifth card to make a qualifying Low hand. Even though the majority of Hand 2's cards are higher, Hand 2 is able to use the three lowest cards on the board, making for a low of only seven-high.
Additional Omaha Poker Hi-Lo Rules
- If there is an extra odd chip, unable to be split in half, this chip is always added to the pot awarded to the winning high hand.
- If there is no qualifying low hand the entire pot is awarded to player with the winning high hand.
- Players can win one or both halves of the pot with the same or different cards from their hand.
- A player does not have to announce what half of the pot she's playing for at the beginning of the hand. This is only required in other variations of poker, known as "declare" games.
Omaha Hi-Lo Poker Strategy
Loose Omaha Hi-Lo is when five or more people see the flop on average. It's a fascinating game and 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.
How to Win at Omaha Hi-Lo
Just like Omaha Hi, O8 is considered to be a nut game. Meaning that if you don't have the nut hand, there's a very good chance you will NOT win the pot. For this reason you want to be very selective in the hands you play and only play hands with "nut" potential. The most important thing to remember is the scooping advice. Your main goal in O8 is to win both the high and the low.
In reality, scooping (winning both the high and low) is a difficult thing to do and, for the most part, rather rare. When playing Omaha your goal is to play for the high with a redraw to the low. If you have the nut high you're guaranteed half the pot. Holding nothing but the nut low still puts you at risk for being quartered or worse
- 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 5+ players see the flop on average.
- Hone your ability to quickly calculate accurate Omaha odds.
All of this advice is very general but will serve you well if you apply it judiciously. Seldom raising before the flop does not mean that you should never ever raise before the flop, though. But in a game like O8 with almost-guaranteed high and loose action, raising before the flop with anything less than a premium hand does little more than increase the size of the pot.
Key advice for Limit Omaha Hi-Lo
Starting Hands & Pre-flop
- You should play approximately 30%-35% of your hands.
- Only play hands that include A-2, A-3 or 2-3 for low hand (although a backup low card adds value.)
- Starting hands should have four cards (9+) for high hand. (bar A-9 hands with two big cards which you shouldn't play at all.)
- To mix up your play, occasionally play A-4 and A-5 suited if the other two cards also work well with the hand.
- Fold most hands that have 7, 8 or 9. Most of these hands have negative EV.
- Don't raise in early position with your good A-2 hands. Instead, raise in late position with several callers ahead to build a pot with the best hand.
- 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.
Turn & River
- Don't play after the flop if you don't have the nut potential.
- Occasionally bluff on the river if there's no low hand out.
- You should bluff infrequently.
- Only play marginal starting hands in late position, when several players called before you.
Common Mistakes in Limit Omaha Hi-Lo
- Playing too many starting hands.
- Calling all the way with only a high or only a 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 with only a low draw when the flop comes with two high cards.
- Calling with just a high draw when the flop comes with two low cards.
Omaha Hi-Lo Starting Hands
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.
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 O8 very different from those for 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 following lists should provide you with a good idea of what types of starting hands are strong in loose Omaha Hi-Lo.
Best Starting Hands in Omaha Hi-Lo
It is essential that you consider how all of these hands 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.
More Profitable starting Hands in Omaha Hi-Lo:
|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)|
Don't get overzealous with any A-2-xx hand.
Generally, you should only play hands that include an A-2, A-3 or 2-3 for low hand along with a high-card combination with strong "nut-making" potential. You should occasionally play A-4 suited and A-5 suited if the other two cards work well with the hand. This is a marginal hand at best, but can be a useful holding for mixing up your play.
Although A-2 will make the nut low more often than any other two-card combination, it's a losing-money proposition to be overly aggressive with weak hands containing strictly low possibilities. Usually, don't raise in early position with your good A-2 hands. Instead, raise with them in late position when there are several callers in front of you. This type of raise builds the pot when you're likely to have the best hand going in. With an A-2 hand you want to encourage large pots with many runners. Getting quartered with A-2 with six players in the pot will be profitable, while it will lose you a significant amount of money when heads-up.
You're also better off folding hands that hold two gaps (for example A-4-5-9). The chances of making a straight are <1% and you rarely win low. Hands like 3-4-5-6, 4-5-6-7, 5-6-7-8 and 6-7-8-9 also have a negative expected value. Omaha variants being the nut games they are, these sorts of middle-connected hands are useless. They have a very low possibility of making the nuts and thus should not be played.
High pairs with two random cards like K-K-x-x or Q-Q-x-x are rarely, if ever, playable on a full table, although a high pair with two low cards that also make your hand suited or double-suited is playable in most games. For example K-K-2-4 double-suited is a playable hand with decent scooping potential. Be sure not to over-value the hand when hitting second nuts.
Trap Hands in Omaha Hi-Lo
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.
How to Play Pocket Aces in Omaha Hi-Lo
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, especially if the flop brings three high-value cards. At this point, the hand will play out the same as Omaha high, with you having the best hand. An exception to raising in this context occurs in a situation where the raise is not likely to limit the field. In a game where the other players are going to be seeing a flop, regardless of the price (such as most online low stakes games), it's most beneficial to simply call.
A pair of aces alone is not a high enough to get embroiled in the hand if three small cards peel off. You'll be playing a weak high hand for a poor percentage at half the pot. With this type of hand it's very hard to scoop the pot and you don't flop the nut low hand often enough to make this hand profitable.
Hands such as A-2-3-4 rainbow are a marginal starting hand and should be played diligently. If you have the nut low with an A-4 or a 3-4 you're far more likely to take the whole low pot than with a more commonly played A-2. In a situation where A-2 is the second-nut low, only to a 3-4 or some other more random holding, you can gain a large number of chips from players who overvalue their low holdings. At the same time it can be a risky play to pump a pot with nothing but a nut low. Running into a player sharing your low will get you quartered for a significant loss on the hand. I can't stress this enough: always play for the high with low redraws.
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. There is no reason to ever play a naked high pair such as a rainbow K-K-6-9. This hand is -EV in O8 because it only has a weak high, with no low draw.
Raising Before the Flop
- 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.
- High pairs: 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.
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.
How to Play the Flop in Omaha Hi-Lo
- 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. (This is solid poker advice, applicable to all forms of poker, not just O8.)
- Consider which opponents you are up against and how they play their hands.
- Be prepared to fold your hand on the flop very often. Many newbies give away too many bets seeing turns with low-probability hands.
- 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, the nut 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. If you are lucky enough to hit the inside straight giving you the nut high, it will be well disguised and you are likely to be paid off. However, be prepared to release your hand if there is heavy action behind you on the flop.
- If you flop a straight or weak flush draw and there exists no chance for a low, you're best to fold, or play the pot cheaply.
- If you flop the nut-flush draw and there exists no chance for a low, whether you call or fold is dependent on the odds - that is to say, on the size of the bet, size of the pot and size of the remaining stacks.
- With a pair on the board, you should release your flush and straight draws. There is little worse in poker than paying to draw dead.
- Don't 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||Straight draw and there exists no chance for a low||FOLD|
|Flush draw (not nut flush draw) and there exists no chance for a low||FOLD|
|Nut flush draw and there exists no chance for a low||CALL/FOLD|
|Two suited cards on the flop||Flush draw and no low draw||Only go for NUT flush draw|
|Pair on the board||FOLD flush/straight draws|
How to Play the Turn in Omaha Hi-Lo
- Play a straightforward (ABC) 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.
How to Play the River in Omaha Hi-Lo
- You should 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.
Omaha Hi-Lo Odds and Statistics
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. The following examples of O8 odds are not meant for you to memorize. Knowing that a flop is 16.2% to come all low cards is no more helpful than knowing that it's somewhere around 15%.
|Number of Outs||% On Flop (2 cards to go)||% On Turn (1 card to go)|
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
Omaha hi lo FAQs
What is Omaha hi lo poker?Omaha hi lo or "Omaha 8" is similar to PLO / pot-limit Omaha (Omaha 'high'). Except Omaha hi lo is the split-pot version where players compete for both the "low" and "high" halves of the pot. Sometimes you may see Omaha hi lo referred to as 'Omaha 8', 'O.8', 'Split-pot-8-or-better', 'Omaha high low'. Games can be both pot-limit or no-limit, cash or tournaments.
How to play Omaha hi lo?Omaha hi lo or "Omaha 8" is similar to PLO / pot-limit Omaha (Omaha 'high'). Except Omaha hi lo is the split-pot version where players compete for both the "low" and "high" halves of the pot.
Like in PLO, hi low players get four hole cards. They need to use two of them combined with 3 community cards to make a poker hand. And just like Hold'em and PLO, a player can win a pot before showdown if all other players fold to them.
However, if there's a 'call' and a showdown, both players' hands are compared. The player with the "high" hand gets half and the player with the "low" hand gets the other half. A player can win both halves of the pot too - called a "SCOOP".
What are the Omaha hi lo hand rankings?HIGH POT
Calculating the 'high' hand winner is easy because you just follow the standard hand rankings:
Three of a Kind
The low pot belongs to the player with the low hand ranking according to the Ace to Five lowball hand ranking system. In this system, straights and flushes don't count, and Aces are always low cards (value = 1).
So the best possible Omaha lo hand is A-2-3-4-5 and the worst possible Omaha lo hand is quads. Basically, to win the low half of the pot, you need to have 8 low or better.
What's the best starting hand in Omaha hi lo?The best starting hands in Omaha hi lo are those containing an Ace and at least one or two low cards - especially a 2.
For example: A-A-2-3 double-suited followed by A-A-2-4 double-suited. These are very strong because they can be played for both high and low, which gives them great scoop potential.
Of course being suited or (even better) double-suited adds value to every hand.
What's the best hand in Omaha hi lo?The best Omaha hi hand is a Royal Flush (as per usual poker hand rankings). Meanwhile, the best Omaha lo hand is A-2-3-4-5 and the worst Omaha lo hand is quads.
Is Omaha hi lo profitable?Yes Omaha hi lo can be profitable, especially with starting hands like:
A-A-2-x / A-A-3-x / A-A-4-5 / A-2-3-x / A-2-K-K / A-2-Q-Q / A-2-J-J
A-3-4-5 / A-A-x-x / A-2-K-Q / A-2-K-J / A-2-x-x (suited ace) / A-3-K-K
A-3-4-x / J-Q-K-A / T-J-Q-K / K-K-Q-J / Q-J-T-9