Omaha Hi-Lo Strategies You Should Know Before You Play
If you like many other players are tired of playing Texas Hold’em, then Omaha Hi-Lo is one poker variant you should definitely try. This variant of poker is fun, exciting, and a lot more challenging than Texas Hold’em.
Omaha Hi-Lo is said to be older than Texas Hold’em. It was during the poker boom, that many Omaha players shifted to Texas Hold’em. However, with the worldwide spread of online poker, the Omaha Hi-lo has gained its loss. Also, since it involves more complexity of play compared to No-Limit Hold’em, and players are looking for more and more thrill and challenges, Omaha Hi-lo has now become more popular than ever before.
In Omaha Hi-lo, a player is dealt with four hole cards has to form the best five card hand using two hole cards and three community cards. The most interesting aspect about this variant of poker is that two players can win a hand. The pot is split between the player with the highest hand and the player with the lowest hand too. To form the lowest hand, the player must have any cards below 8. The best hand in the lowest category is A, 2, 3, 4, 5. In Omaha Hi-lo games, an ace can be used as the highest card as well as the lowest card.
If you are a Texas Hold’em player and are planning to play Omaha Hi-lo, you will need to remember a lot of things. Here are some Omaha Hi-lo strategies that you should keep in mind while playing this game:
Know the game
This strategy is especially for players who are new to Omaha hi-lo. Before you start playing, take time to know and understand the game and its rules. While a few basic rules remain the same as Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha, it is important to keep in mind there are other significant differences that you cannot afford to neglect.
Understand that in Omaha Hi-lo, every player is dealt with four cards and not two. To form your best hand, you must compulsorily use two cards from your hand and three from the board to make your highest or lowest five-card hand. Additionally, also remember don’t fold if you have lower value cards, they can win you half of the pot. Understand that you will have to adopt different strategies to win in an Omaha hi-lo game.
Don’t underestimate an Ace Deuce
A mere ace-deuce is one of the weakest combinations in other poker games, but in Omaha hi-lo, an ace-deuce combination is one of the best cards you can have. In fact, most of the time you can survive in an Omaha Hi-Lo game by playing only those hands that contain an Ace and a Deuce. Hands having these two cards are considered as the highest combinations in an Omaha Hi-lo game. An Ace-Deuce pair along with two other random cards can be more profitable than even a pair of aces with other random cards as a starting hand. If you have an ace-deuce, you can always play confidently preflop. It is often seen that ace-pairs don’t do wonders in Omaha Hi-lo, but ace-deuce does.
This is mainly because lower hands have more value in Omaha hi-lo games. Ace-deuce being the lowest cards you already have a better edge of winning. Even if, say 4,6,7 show on the board, and someone shows a 2 and 3, you will win the pot because you have ace as your lowest card.
Know the lows
One cannot emphasize enough on the value of low cards in Omaha Hi-lo. Determine the nut-low is one of the most important tasks in this variant of poker. Any five unpaired cards with the highest among them not being greater than 8 is considered as a low hand. Similarly, any hand consisting of five cards having a value 9 or greater than 9 does not qualify to win as a low hand. Thus, according to the low hand rankings in Omaha hi-lo, A,2,3,4,5 is the best low hand while 8,7,6,5,4 is the worst low hand. Having straights or flushes doesn’t help when you’re trying to play low hands.
Additionally, the low hands in this game are known by the highest cards in the hand. For example, a A, 2, 4, 5, 6 hand would be known as a six-five.’ Incase an opponent shows A, 2, 4, 6, 7, he would lose, as a ‘seven-six’ is higher than the ‘six-five.’
You must also have the knowledge regarding a smooth low hand, wherein the rest of the cards after the highest card are very low (8-4-3-2-A), as well as a rough low hand where the rest of the cards are high (8-7-6-5-A).
Avoid playing high hands
This is one of the major catch that you will see in Omaha hi-lo. While other variants of poker aim at playing the best highest hand, Omaha hi-lo, focuses more on playing the low hands. As mentioned above, low cards have great value in Omaha hi-lo. Thus the value of high cards or hand hands decreases. This is because players with high hands are aware that they are playing for half the pot.
While it may not be a good idea to play for high hands in this variant of poker, one should also remember that you will not always come across a low hand. Hence, if the flop is competitive, you can always play a high hand. If you play for high hand, many a times you will find yourself in a situation where you are left with hands that don’t qualify for low draws, and neither qualify for flush and straight draws.
Additionally, in Omaha hi-lo games, high cards are always at a disadvantage against any two low cards in a heads-up. You can choose to fold them from your starting range itself to make sure you do not lose much value. And if you happen to play them wrong, not playing them at all would be healthier for your bankroll.
Have a Backup card for your high and low
Whether you are playing for a high hand or a low hand, it is always advised to have a back-up card. In case of low hands, an ace-deuce is great, but having an A, 2, 3 is always better. This is because there are high chances of your cards being replicated on the board, i.e., counterfeited. If that happens your hand is ruined, however, if you have another card to fall back on as a back-up, you are saved. For example, a 4, 8, 7 shows on the flop, and you have ace-deuce. You have the best low hand, however, if an ace or deuce falls on the turn or river, your hand remains the same, but someone else could get the lowest hand. But if you have a three, you still have an advantage.
Similarly, you need a backup card for your high hands too. Say the flop is 7h 8h Ts and you’re holding the 9JQA with no hearts. You have the nut high, but you’re still in trouble because someone could have a low draw, flush draw to play against you. Moreover, if there’s action on the flop, it could be that someone else too has the same nuts as you, but he/she has redraws to rely on. In that case, you have a very low possibility of winning in spite of flopping nuts.
Do not bluff
If you are thinking of using your exceptional bluffing skills from Texas Hold’em at an Omaha hi-lo table, just don’t! The reason we say so is because Omaha hi-lo is a hand value game. Here everyone is playing for the value of their hands, which is mostly nuts. So if you decide to bluff, you are probably bluffing against nuts, and it is almost impossible to have someone fall your bluff and fold a nut. It is difficult to even bet away an excellent non-nut hand because the player calling, may have the nuts and maybe afraid of being quartered. So always play with nuts and let opponents call you.
Hence, bluffing in Omaha hi-lo game is as good as digging your own grave. That being said, there are some Omaha hi-lo advanced strategies that encourage the use of bluffing sparingly, but that takes a lot of time and experience. So if you’re a beginner, forget about bluffing on Omaha hi-lo tables and save it for Texas Hold’em.
Aim At Scooping the Pot
No matter what poker game you are playing, your aim should always be to scoop the entire pot, and Omaha hi-lo is no different. In Omaha Hi-Lo, your primary aim should be to scoop the entire pot. That means, winning both hands- the high and low hands of the game. Yes, that’s possible. Several times in Omaha hi-lo, you will have seen chopping of pot between two players, but scooping the entire pot is any day better than chopping it into smaller parts. This will help you accumulate a huge stack in a comparatively shorter span of time. In the Omaha hi-lo variant of poker, ace-deuce suited and ace-three suited are known to be the best starting hands. This is because there is a high chance of winning both, high and low hands with these cards. An ace-king suited and an ace-jack suited can also help you scoop the pot as these hands have the potential of making a straight or a flush, especially when is no strong low hand at the showdown.
Like any other variant of poker, in Omaha hi-lo, too the table positions have a great influence on your playing strategy. Restrict yourself to playing only premium and valuable starting hands if you’re in the early positions as you have no idea how the opponents are going to react. This will save you a lot of chips. Play draws when you are in the later positions, i.e., closer to the button, since you have more knowledge about the opponents and the pot. Late positions are considered the most advantageous over the other positions on the table.
Don’t be afraid to fold on the flop
This is one of the most important Omaha hi-lo strategies that you will come across. If you recognize you have a weak hand early, don’t be afraid to opt-out quickly. As mentioned earlier this game is played purely for value hands. So, if the flop does not increase the value of your hand, do not hesitate to fold.
Many players keep playing despite a bad flop, because they believe that they will lose you the money they have already bet pre-flop and thus continue playing with a bad hand. But it is important to remember that you will lose some money, no doubt, but by folding you will save a lot of money that you would otherwise give away for free. You can use this money later when you have a really good hand and get more value. Many experts consider playing with an average hand as the most flawed Omaha hi-lo strategy to end your game.
Since every player is dealt with four hole cards in Omaha hi-lo, draws are very common. It is known to be a game of draws and really good draws. It is very common to have multiple low hands or multiple flushes on the river. In such cases, where players are drawing several different types of high as well as low hands, it is not a good idea to push most of your chips preflop.
In fact, you should always try to see the flop for the cheapest value possible. Hence it is okay to limp preflop in Omaha hi-lo. And then if you flop nuts with high or low draws, the game is yours. Get as many chips as you can in the middle of the table and get maximum value for it. However, make sure that your draw has good chances of holding up.
Now that you know some basic Omaha hi-lo strategies, go on and use them and make the most of this game. Many a times, you will be required to use a mix of multiple strategies during the same hand as and when the situation demands. So be flexible, keep your calm, analyze the situation and make the best possible decision to adopt the best Omaha hi-lo strategy.
Remember that it is one of the most exciting variants of poker you will ever play, so don’t forget to enjoy the game.
Should limping strategy be used in Omaha Hi-Lo games?
Limping strategy can be used pre-flop in Omaha hi-lo to have more players contribute and thus generate a bigger pot.
Is folding on the flop a good strategy in Omaha Hi-Lo?
Do not be afraid of folding on flop if you don’t have good cards. This will save you a lot of funds which you can utilize when absolutely necessary.
Should you play with ace-deuce in Omaha hi-lo?
Ace-deuce as a starting hand is one of the best starting hands in Omaha hi-lo. Thus, you should never underestimate this hand and always play.