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Omaha Hi/Lo Hand Rankings
Table of Contents
Among the various poker variants that one can play and enjoy, Omaha Hi/Lo is one of the most interesting and exciting variants. In this article let’s talk about the hand rankings in Omaha hi/lo and how you can ace this challenging variant.
What is Omaha Hi-Low?
Omaha Hi-Lo is the abbreviation of Omaha High-Low. It is also known as Omaha 8 and Omaha 8-or-Better. It was one of the most popular forms of poker in early days, however, the boom of Texas Hold’em reduced its popularity. However, with online poker modes, the variant is again gaining popularity because of the entertainment and thrill it offers.
It is a bit more complex than Texas Hold’em and hence several poker rooms offer this game as a substitute variation to Hold’em. It is usually played aggressively, especially at lower stakes, with over five players seeing the flop in every hand. Something that is not common in Texas Hold’em.
Acing this specific variant will help one gain massively since many Texas Hold’em players are unable to remove themselves from their Hold’em habits and repeat them on Omaha hi-lo tables. And to help you do this, we will tell you everything about this variant in this article.
Basic Rules of Omaha Hi-Lo
Usually, in Omaha Hi-Lo games the pot is split between two or more players. One is of course winning the high hand just like any other poker variant. However, the catch in Omaha Hi-Lo is that if there are three cards on the board ranking below 8, for example A J 9 8 4, then a low hand can also qualify and take half of the pot. Here, an Ace counts as both the highest and lowest rank card.
If we consider the above example of the community cards, the best hole cards to make a high hand would be QT, since it gives an 8-Q straight. Similarly, the best qualifying hole cards for a low hand would be 2 and3, because here you can play 8-4-3-2-A.
In this case the pot is equally split in a 50:50 ratio between the player holding the high hand and the player holding the low hand. In case if more than two players have QT as hole cards, they will share the high pot equally. Similarly, if two or more players have 2 and 3, they share the low pot.
That being said, the absolute best hand to hold in the above example is QT32. This is because with these hole cards, you have the best high hand and the best low hand, both at the same time.
Say for example, the board reads K Q J 8 5. In this case what would be the low hand? There would be no qualifying low hand in this case since there are only two cards lower than 8, and according to the rules, only if three cards rank below 8, there would be a low hand. In this case, where there is no low hand, the high hand takes the entire pot. Again, if more than one player has the identical hand, they will split the pot.
You should usually focus on making the high hand first. However, if there is a scope for a low hand, it is a good addition, and you can go for it.
There are three things to consider when understanding the rules of Omaha Hi-Lo.
In Omaha Hi-Lo almost every time the showdown declares the winner. The variant Omaha Hi-Lo is all about a split pot. It means the pot is divided between the high hand and the low hand at showdown. In the case where the same player goes on to win the high hand as well as the low hand it´s called a scoop.
As the name suggests it is the highest hand one can make. It is identical to the winning hand of Omaha High. Since, unlike the low there are no qualifications required for the high, hence there will always be a high winning hand in every hand.
As against the high, the low is the lowest possible hand below 8. To qualify as a low hand, the following criteria must be met:
- A low hand should include any two cards from a player’s hole cards, and any three cards from the community cards.
- The cards used to make the best high hand do not affect the low hand. One can use the same cards, different cards, or a combination from his hand.
- A low hand is any five unpaired cards, all with ranks equal to or lower than 8.
- Aces are counted as low for the low hand.
- A low hand ignores all flushes and straights. The suits or sequences do not matter. The best possible low hand is A-2-3-4-5.
- Low hands are always counted from the top to down. This means that a hand is only as good as its highest card. For example, 2 3 5 6 7 is higher than A 2 3 4 5
- Any hand having a pair, or a card higher than 8, does not qualify for a low hand. Even if the rank of the pair is below 8, it does not qualify.
- Suits do not matter in a low hand. If players share the exact same low hand, they must equally split the low half of the pot.
Hand Rules of Omaha Hi-Lo Poker
To understand better let us consider the following example:
The board has 4h 5c 7s Qs Ah.
Player 1 hold Ac 2s Kh Ks
Player 2 holds As 3s Qh Qd
In this example Player 2 has three of a kind of queens, while Player 1 has two pairs. Three of a kind being higher than two pairs Player 2 wins the high pot. Player 1 wins the low hand with his 7542A, against Player 2’s 7543A.
Rules for Omaha Hi-Lo Scoop
In Omaha hi-lo when a player wins both the high hand and the low hand at the same time, it is known as a scoop. For example, the board reads Kh 3d 4d 8s 2d
Player 1 has Ah Ks Qd 2s
Player 2 has Jh Jd 7h 6h
Here Player 2 wins the high hand with a jack high flush of diamonds. At the same time, he/she also wins the low hand with 7h 6h 4d 3d 2d. Player 2 scoops with the best high hand and the best low hand. Many players make a mistake of thinking that Player 1 will win the low hand since A-2 is lower than 6-7. However, in Omaha hi-lo, one must first count the highest card in your low hand. That means Player 1 has an 8-4-3-2-A while Player 2 has 7-6-4-3-2, thus making Player 2’s hand the winning low hand.
Additional Omaha Poker Hi-Lo Rules
- There are some additional rules to keep in mind while playing Omaha Hi-Lo:
- In case the pot has an odd number of chips, and it cannot be equally split into two, the extra chip is then added to the high hand winner’s amount.
- If no hand qualifies for the low hand the entire pot is awarded to the player with the winning high hand.
- Players can win either one or both shares of the pot with either the same or different hole cards.
- A player need not announce what half of the pot he/she is playing for at the beginning of the hand.
Omaha Hi-Lo Hand Rankings.
Once you are thorough with the rules of Omaha Hi-Lo, you can then start understanding and dive deep into the Omaha Hi-Lo hand rankings. The hand rankings are similar to those in Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha. They are arranged according to the uniqueness of their occurrence. The following are the Omaha Hi-Lo hand rankings from the highest to the lowest:
Royal flush – A, K, Q, J, T, all of the same suit.
- Straight flush – Five cards of the same suit in a sequence.
- Four of a kind – Four cards of the same rank and one of a different rank
- Full house – Three of a kind (three cards of the same rank) with a pair (two cards of the same rank).
- Flush – Random five cards of the same suit.
- Straight – Five cards of different suits in a sequence.
- Three of a kind – Three cards of the same rank.
- Two pairs – Two different pairs.
- Pair – Two cards of the same rank.
- High Card – Random set of five cards without a sequence or pairs of identical suits played for the highest card.
Low And Eight Or Better Qualifier
Like mentioned above, it is not necessary that every hand qualifies for a low. If no hand qualifies as a low hand, the high hand takes the entire pot. To qualify as a low hand, the five cards should have no pairs, and should rank either eight or lower than that. An ace can be used as a low card. There are no straights and flushes in a low hand. Hands with pairs or ranking nine and above are not valid low hands.
Low Hand Rankings & Examples
As the name suggests the lower value cards you hold, the strongest low hand you have. Low hands are decided starting with the highest-ranking card among the five cards towards the lower ranking cards. The player with the lowest higher-ranking card wins the low hand. If the topmost card is identical the next highest card is considered. Following are the low hand examples arranged in increasing value:
- 8d 7s 6c 5h 4s – Worst low hand
- 8d 7s 4c 3h As
- 7d 6s 4c 3h As
- 7d 5s 4c 2h As
- 6d 5s 4c 3d 2s
- 6d 5s 4c 3h As
- 5d 4s 3c 2h As – Known as ‘the wheel’ is the best possible low hand in this example.
Omaha Hi-Lo Poker Strategy
Omaha Hi-Lo is a game driven by the hand value, hence there is very less scope of bluffing involved. Additionally, you will be required to alter your Omaha Hi-Lo strategies according to the situations even with the same hands. To know more about what kind of strategies to adopt in a Omaha Hi-Lo game, click here.
How to Win In Omaha Hi-Lo Games?
Omaha Hi-Lo is considered to be a nut game, i.e., it is played for the best value. If you don’t have the nuts (best cards) you will not win the pot. Hence, always be selective and thoughtful and play for value only. Also remember your goal should be to scoop the pot, that is to win both the high and the low.
When you actually start playing you will realise scooping is difficult and rare. Thus, you may want to play for the high hands and eventually redraw for the low hands. Having the nut high will guarantee you half the pot. However, having only a nut low can put you at risk of being quartered or worse.
Key advice for Limit Omaha Hi-Lo
Remember these key advice when playing Omaha Hi-Lo:
Starting hands & Pre-flop
- Be selective and play about 30%-35% of your hands
- Choose to play only those hands that include A-2, A-3 or 2-3 for low hands.
- For a high hand, you hole cards that are above 9
- You may play A-4 and A-5 suited from time to time to mix up your play and leave no room to guess for your opponent.
- Do not shy from folding most hands with 7, 8 or 9.
- Do not raise in an early position with A-2 hands. Raise in a late position to build a pot.
- Play more aggressively if you hit a good flop
- Do not be afraid to fold your hand on the flop.
- Play hands to scooping the pot.
Turn & River
- You can occasionally bluff on the river if there’s no possibility of a low hand.
- Play selective starting hands in late position, after other players have called before you.
Common Mistakes in Limit Omaha Hi-Lo
- Not being selective and playing too many starting hands.
- Calling with only a high or a low potential.
- Betting preflop with middle cards, like 6-7-8-9.
- Raising with A-2 in early position and eventually making players fold instead of building the pot.
- Calling with only a low draw on seeing two high cards on the flop.
- Calling with a high draw when two low cards come on the flop.
Understand the game before you jump on to play Omaha Hi-Lo. Do not make the mistake of using your Texas Hold’em strategies in this variant of the game, as it may bring great losses. Understand the hand rankings well, especially for low hands, since it is something different from Hold’em and hence it is easier to get confused with low hands.
What qualifies as a low hand in Omaha Hi-Lo?
Any random five cards hand without any pairs or similar suits and with ranks equal to or lower than 8, qualifies for a low hand in Omaha Hi-Lo.
What is the best hand ranking to win a high hand in Omaha Hi-Lo?
To win a high hand in Omaha Hi-Lo games, a royal flush is the best hand ranking.
What is scoop in Omaha Hi-Lo?
When a player has the best high hand as well as the best low hand, he/she wins both sides of the pot, which is known as scooping.