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A guide to Omaha Hi/Lo basics

July 16, 2019

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Omaha Hold’em is a tricky game for those used to Texas Hold’em, but Hi/Lo adds in a whole new level of complexity. Read our guide to the basics on how to play this exciting format.

Hand Selection

Any poker strategy starts with hand selection and asking yourself, “What is my objective?”

If it’s to pass the time with friends, then you’re welcome to play a wider range of hands. As long as most of the other players are doing the same thing, your end result might be a small win or loss, with little to no damage to your bankroll. But if you’re taking on serious opponents, you should be much more conservative and keep leaks to a minimum.

  • High pairs in Omaha are typically successful. Holding AA in Hi/Lo has the bonus of helping your low potential. That said, be prepared to fold when your hand misses the flop.
  • Low straights and middle sets are vulnerable to other made low hands and unpredictable re-draws.
  • A-2 can look appealing, but remember that without another low card in your hand, you need three cards besides an ace or two on the board to make a low. When an ace or two appear on the board, you may no longer have the best low.

Suited cards with an ace and at least two low cards are premium hands, BUT …

Aim for both halves. Avoid being quartered. Don’t chase half the pot.

Think twice about continuing in pots drawing to the high only with flush or straight draws, especially heads up, even if you think it would be profitable in high only Omaha. You might hit your draw and get back just half the pot, or worse still you miss and end up folding.

Don’t get drawn into expensive hands where your only hope is getting the low, even if it is the nuts. Other players may have the same low and it will cost you chips.

When you do connect with the best high in a multi-way pot …

Get value with the best hand

Make sure you make the most of the hands where you are guaranteed half of the pot and everyone else will likely get back less than they bet.

Even before the river, in situations where you have the nuts in either half of the pot and have a good chance of the other half as well, make sure you protect your hand. People will chase their fragile low draws and stick around with high hand draws, even the ones which will realistically return half of the pot. Get value from them!

How do you do that?

Read your opponents. Evaluate bluffs. Cut your losses.

Study your opponents’ tendencies and try to learn when people have draws and when they have their made hand.

Sometimes it can be profitable to bluff tight opponents when you have a fairly modest hand for each half of the pot.

It is very profitable to raise when you can tell more than one opponent is calling with a claim to just the low half.

Sometimes laying down the nut low when you have no high hand is necessary to reduce your losses. Remember — you will be betting one third of the chips to go in and may only get back one quarter, or worse if others have the same low as you.