Omaha Hi-Lo Poker

Texas Hold’em may be the darling of the poker circuit, but Omaha Poker is picking up steam as a player favorite.

You start Omaha with four hole cards dealt face down. Then there’s the flop, the turn and the river, leaving you a total of nine cards to choose from, and making for some wild times at the table. However, you can only play two of the four hole cards to complete your five-card hand.Best_Low_Hand_Omaha_Hi-Low

While straight Omaha is catching on, Omaha Hi-Lo is a version of the game that’s quickly outpacing its card-game cousin. The two games are exactly the same, with one major exception. A qualifying low hand (five cards with no pairs and no cards higher than an eight) picks up half of the pot.

Some  facts to remember in Omaha Hi-Low: Aces are low in the lowest hand, and high in the highest hand; flushes and straights don’t count against the low; there must be three cards of eight or below on the board for the possibility of a qualifying low. If there isn’t a qualifying low hand, the winner with the high hand takes the entire pot.

The idea that you can win with both the high and the low hand– scooping the pot – in Omaha Hi-Low is very appealing. More players stick around for the river trying to complete a winning hand, and thus large pots often result.

Of the five cards used in the low hand, an eight is the highest card you can use. With flushes and straights ignored in the low hand. A-2-3-4-5 is the best hand in Omaha Hi-Low.

Breaking down your starting hand in Omaha Hi-Low can take a lot of mental work right off the bat. With two pocket cards in Hold’em, your next move is fairly clear. With four pocket cards in Omaha, it’s a bit more complex. Straights, flushes and full houses occure more often in Omaha than in Hold’em, and pairs rarely win the pot.

Starting with four unpaired low cards, the chance of making a winning low hand is 49%. If two low cards hit on the flop, the chance for a low increases to 70%. One low card and it drops to 24%.

Holding the ace is ideal in Omaha Hi-Low. Because scooping the pot is the ultimate goal, you need an ace if you want to win the low hand. The best starting hand, according to noted poker authority Bill Boston, is A-A-2-3 double suited, which means the A-2 is suited and the A-3 is also suited. This combination gives you a shot at the flush and a straight. If an ace, two or three drop on the table, you have the best chance at winning the low hand, too.

For beginners, Omaha Hi-Low can be very intimidating. For those starting out, turn up your cards at the showdown (players showing hands after the betting is done) and let the dealer check your hand. To evaluate cards, it’s good to apply what’s called the point-count system. Each in hand combination is given a value, then the points are added to figure out the strength of your hand. There are books and software programs available that can help break down the numbers.

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