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How to Play Omaha Hi Low Poker

Omaha is a fun variation of poker where each player is dealt 4 cards (instead of 2 cards in Holdem). There are a total of 5 community cards that are dealt in the same manner as holdem. The flop consists of the first three community cards, then the turn and river which are both single community cards. The object of the game is to make the best 5 card poker hand for high and the lowest possible poker hand for low. Every player MUST use two cards from his hand, and three cards from the board.

It takes time and practice to develop a winning edge. Every good player that I know feels that they are still learning, even the pros ...

The Basics:

In Omaha, there is no ante. There are two forced bets per hand called the big blind which is equal to the minimum bet, and the small blind which is the minimum bet. Like all games that require forced bets, the deal will rotates around the table with the dealer being signified by "The Button" and the small blind being directly to the dealers left, and the big blind being two seats to the left of the dealer.


In a typical hand:

1. Blinds are posted to create the pot


2. 4 Hole cards or (pocket cards) are dealt to each player


3. Pre flop betting occurs, since the blinds are forced bets there is no option to check (other than big blind) and you must call, raise or fold.


4. The flop is dealt (3 community cards)


5. A 2nd round of betting occurs. Since there is no forced bet players may check, raise or fold.


6. The turn card is dealt (the 4th community card)


7. A 3rd round of betting occurs. This is where Omaha becomes most interesting. Players should be aware of the number of outs that they have (outs refer to the number of cards that will give them a strong and potentially winning hand) and make their decision on whether or not to call based on the strength of their hand.


8. The river card is dealt (the 5th community card).


9. A final round of betting occurs. At this point you will know exactly what your best hand is.


10. The Showdown: Remember that every hand must use 2 pocket cards and 3 community cards


A typical omaha table


How to evaluate your hand in Omaha:

Here are some basic Omaha hands. Remember that in Omaha h/l, players are allowed to use exactly 2 pocket cards and exactly 3 community cards to make their best poker hand. You can use any two hole cards and three board cards to make your best high hand and then use 2 completely different pocket cards and a different combination of 3 community cards for their best low hand.


Pocket CardsCommunity CardsBest Hand EvaluationBest Low Hand Evaluation
As|Ah|3h|2dAd|3d|5c|10d|3cAs|Ah|Ad|3d|3c
Aces full of 3s
No qualifying
low hand
2s|4c|6c|10dAd|3d|5c|10d|3cAd|2s|3d|4s|5c 5
Hi Straight
Ad|2s|3d|4s|5c
Wheel- Lock low
Qd|10s|Jc|4dAd|3d|5c|10d|3cAd|Qd|10d|5d|4d
A-Q Flush
No qualifying
low hand
Kd|2d|4h|4sAd|3d|5c|10d|3cAd|Kd|10d|7d|3d
A-K Flush - Lock Hi
Ad|2c|3d|4h|5c
Wheel- Lock Low

Note that Player 1 (Aces full of 3s) would win of the pot for high, and Players 2 and 4 both have a wheel which is the lock low hand would each get of the pot splitting the low since each player tied with a wheel. That is a very common situation and one that can either make you a lot of money (or cost you). Make sure you are aware of a potential wheel and if you have a lock high hand, bet it and dont worry about being nice.


Analysis:

Most sites would show you a "dream hand" rather than a real life example that , this example shows how Omaha can really make even the most seasoned poker player squirm.


Player one has a great hand to start, pocket Aces with the 2,3. To make things even better ... he is has suited A,3 giving him a lock flush draw.


Player two has a marginal hand, really only drawing for a low. If Player 1 raises, it is possible that player two would fold depending on the stakes.


Player three has another marginal hand, the straight draw would seldom hold up and the suited Qd 4d is only asking for trouble ... there is no possible low.


Player four has a typical hand that is marginal but worth playing in late position. The pocket fours usually would not help unless you catch four of a kind, and the 2 - 4 is a marginal low card draw.


After the flop, Player 1 feels like he just hit the lottery and lost the ticket he is sitting on 3 aces, a four gives him a wheel but all his hand has at this point is potential, he has to be afraid of the potential wheel. Seat 2 is practicing his yoga breathing exercises as he has just been flopped a wheel. Youll see plenty of people play a hand like seat 3 but if they stays in after that flop, make sure you add them to your buddy list because that is the type of player you want at your table. Seat 4 is hoping to connect on his A-K flush draw and is also sitting on the lock low.


After the turn, seat 1 is now starting to sweat. He has incredible cards, but no help for his trip aces. A four on the river will give him a wheel or any pair on the board for Aces full. Hopefully seat 2 will realize that there is probably another wheel. If seat 3 is still playing the hand, buy him a drink or throw in more fish food. ... Player 4 thinks he has a free roll on high and the lock low.


OK Now here is the real world example I was talking about (Im in seat 4). To protect my hand, I bet the pot I was called by seat 1 and by seat 2. Look what happens:


On the river, seat one has worn out his rabbits foot. The three on the river was the absolute dream card giving him Aces Full. He is immediately in for the pot, player 2 is hoping he does not split the low too many ways and that his baby straight holds up so to isolate the hand he raises all in. I wish I had the discipline to simply get away from this hand but I was forced to call with the wheel and the A-K flush. The result was that I got back of the pot so seat 2 and seat 4 both had a net loss on the hand.


Notes:

IMPORTANT: Make sure you know what the best possible hand is for both the High and Low hands... remember that you must use three cards from the board so sometimes a straight or a flush will not be possible. I once saw a player fold 3 Queens - The board was 2s,3d,7d,8c,Qc - and he got spooked because of all the raising - 3 players had Ace, 4! Trip Queens was the lock high hand.


Typical Omaha Strategy:

While there are many similarities between Omaha and Holdem, strategy is not one of them. Many Holdem players try to use typical Holdem tactics such as using positional raises and betting the maximum on pocket Aces only to watch their bankroll disappear. Remember that in Omaha you are dealt four personal cards - so there are many more combinations of cards and it more power associated with runs of cards such as Ah-Kc-Jc-10h. Typically, you will need to be more selective in Omaha although most players try to see the flop and then determine the value of their hand. After the flop, you have seen 7 out of 9 cards that you will see on the hand and it should be possible to determine the best possible hand ... for both high and low ... and try to calculate the number of outs that you have to make one of those hands.


Make sure that the amount of money you risk has a realistic return:


Example:

Your Cards: Ac - Kc - 3d - Kd


Flop: 4c - 5c -10h


Analysis:

The best possible hand after the flop is Trip 10's. There is no possible straight and no flush.


You have several possible outs:


(9) A club gives you the nut flush.


(4) A two gives you a straight and lock low - possible for both high and low.


(2) A King gives you a set - and a draw for a full house or quads.


Note - I do not count this towards an out but J-Q would give you the highest straight. If either the Jack or Queen were to fall on the turn - then consider the outs for filling the straight.


The Turn: 3 c

Ok, the plot thickens


You have hit the lock flush. Anyone with either an A-2 or a 2-6 or a 6-7 now has a made straight. It also puts anyone with two clubs on a club flush with a flush draw - Expect anyone with A-2 to raise. Be careful, even though you have the Ace high flush you could lose to a potential straight flush.


Here are your possible outs:


(4) A two gives you a straight and lock low - possible for both high and low.


(34) Any card that is not a 3-4-5 or 10. With the lock flush, the last thing you want to see is a pair on the board.


So with that in mind - let us assume there were 6 players who saw the flop after a raise. (3+3=6 x 6 = 36) and 4 players who called after the flop again with a raise (3+3=6 x4 = 24) and 3 players who have called (6 x 3 = 18) and the action is to you ... do you see the river card?


You are betting $6.00 for a possible return of what?

Your chances of getting a part of the low are only 1 in 4 if you are convinced that someone already has the wheel. The odds of your winning high when you have the lock hand on the turn is 34 (cards that do not pair the board) and 12 that do or about 66%. Given these odds you should always raise to protect your hand. This will help make great pots when you do win and force people not to chase if You have one lock out for low - (4) pulling


Some other thoughts -


Wouldn't the 2s be a great card - you already have the lock flush and that would give you a piece of the low - Recognize what the lock hands are and if you have it RAISE!

Now that you know How to Play Omaha hi-low Poker why not check out some of our other online poker guides below:

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