How to Play Omaha Hi-Lo and Hi-Lo Strategy

Omaha Hi-Lo is a fun variant to the regular Omaha poker game. In Omaha Hi-Lo, the “high” hand is what we are normally used to, a 5 card poker hand, with 2 cards taken from individually dealt cards and 3 cards taken from the shared cards. The “low” hand, on the other hand, is something completely different. The low hand idea was established to give those who were not dealt high cards (like face cards) a fighting chance at part of the pot.

To have a qualifying low hand, you must have 5 cards that are 8 or lower. In this case, an ace may be counted as the lowest card. These 5 cards must be of all different values. And just as with the high hand, a player must use actually 2 cards from their hand and 3 cards from the shared cards in the center.

Consider this scenario in a game of Omaha Hi-Lo.

The 5 cards on the board come out to be 7 9 10 J K. Here, there are not 3 cards of value 8 or lower to use towards a qualifying low hand. So, there is no low hand.

If there is a qualifying low hand among those who show their cards, the “lowest” hand will split the pot with the “highest” hand, each receiving half. The lowest hand is determined by who has the lowest highest card among the qualifying low hands. For example, a low hand of 3 4 5 6 7 would be better than a low hand of A 2 3 4 8. The highest card of the first hand is 7, the highest card of the second hand is 8. Since 7 is lower than 8, that hand is better.

In the case where the highest cards of two qualifying low hands are the same, you compare the next highest card. If that is the same, you compare the next highest card. You continue this on down to the lowest card. If all 5 cards are of exactly the same value, then the low hands have tied and will split half of a half of a pot. That is to say, each will receive a quarter of the pot.

Let’s take a look at a few examples to decide which hand is a better low hand. You can use these as a guide when playing your Omaha Hi-Lo Strategy.

Hi-Lo Strategy Example 1
Player 1: A 3 5 8
Player 2: 2 3 7 10
Board: 3 5 6 J K

Here Player 1’s low hand is A 3 5 6 8. Player 2’s low hand is 2 3 5 6 7. Since 7 is lower than 8, Player 2 has the better hand.

Hi-Lo Strategy Example 2
Player 1: A 2 3 4
Player 2: 5 6 7 8
Board: A 2 3 10 Q

Here Player 1 has no qualifying low hand, despite being dealt the 4 lowest cards possible. Player 2’s low hand is A 2 3 5 6. So Player 2 wins by default.

Hi-Lo Strategy Example 3
Player 1: A 3 4 7
Player 2: 2 3 4 5
Board: 6 7 8 10 K

Here Player 1’s low hand is A 3 6 7 8. Player 2’s low hand is 2 3 6 7 8. Since A is lower than 2 (all the other cards are identical), Player 1 wins this low hand.

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