Omaha is the second most popular variant of poker, and it’s no surprise that it comes in several variations. One of the most intriguing among them is Omaha Hi-Lo. This type of Omaha differs from the classic version in that the pot in the hands is split between two winners. This increases the chances of receiving a payout, making the game more appealing.
Omaha Hi-Lo: About This Poker Variant
The Hi-Lo variation is based on the classic Omaha. It is still unknown who exactly came up with this variation of the game. However, historians generally agree that it originated in the United States. It gained popularity in land-based casinos in Las Vegas, and with the advent of online poker rooms, it started being played online as well. In online settings, it is often referred to as “Omaha 8,” and in the lobbies of client applications, this discipline is denoted as PLO 8.
Omaha Hi-Lo Rules
The advantage of Hi-Lo is that poker players do not need to memorize new rules if they have already played classic Omaha. The process of dealing hands is similar:
- Two players sitting in the positions of the big and small blinds make mandatory bets. The bet size depends on the limit of the chosen table. These blinds form the initial pot. This means that right from the start, participants in the hand have something to compete for.
- Each player at the table receives four hole cards, which are dealt face down, so they are not visible to opponents.
- The first round of betting begins. Participants can either call the big blind (call), raise (raise), or fold their cards. The betting round continues until the highest bet is matched by all participants. If someone disagrees with the bet, they fold their hand.
- Three community cards are revealed on the table. The remaining players in the hand can use these cards to form their poker hand.
- The second round of betting commences, following the same rules as the first round. In addition to the actions mentioned earlier, participants can also check, which means they pass the opportunity to bet. However, this option is available only if no one has placed a bet in the current round of betting.
- Another community card is revealed, and another round of betting follows, using the same rules as the previous rounds.
- One more community card is dealt, and participants move on to the final round of betting.
An important note: in poker, a hand may not reach the final showdown. This happens when, during a betting round, all other opponents fold in response to an opponent’s bet. In this case, the game ends, and the entire pot goes to the remaining player. The strength of their hand does not matter.
Omaha High Low Combinations
If, at the end of the final betting round, there are two or more participants left in the hand, the final stage, called the showdown, occurs. During this stage, opponents compare their combinations. First, they compare their high hands, and then their low hands. Let’s dive into the principles and compositions in more detail.
High combinations are formed according to the classic poker rules. This means that the weakest hand is just a high card, while the strongest is a royal flush. The hierarchy of high hands is illustrated below, along with the rules for forming them.
Combinations in Omaha High-Low are formed based on different principles. Here are the rules:
- Cards higher than an eight should not be included in the combination.
- An Ace is considered as one, making it the lowest card in the deck.
- Flushes and straights are not taken into account when forming low hands.
- One hand can simultaneously function as both a high and low combination.
If none of the participants manages to form a hand that adheres to these rules, the entire pot goes to the player with the high hand. If someone does have a low hand, a split pot occurs. Half of the pot goes to the player with the highest hand, and the other half goes to the opponent with the best low hand.
Strategy for Playing Omaha High-Low
To succeed in this poker variant, it’s essential to follow a basic strategy. The key principles are as follows:
- Pre-flop: In the first stage of the game, avoid making significant investments in the pot. Due to the large number of hole cards, it’s challenging to assess their true strength, so it’s better to limit your actions to comparing with the big blind.
- Flop: In the second stage of the hand, you’ll have a better understanding of the value of your hole cards and the community cards. Base your strategy on these assessments. If you manage to form strong high and low hands, consider raising. When your combinations have borderline strength, it’s better to avoid aggression and opt for a check or call. An exception is when you’re playing against tight opponents; in such cases, you can try bluffing with a substantial raise to force them out of the hand and win the pot before the showdown.
- Turn and river: Your strategy on these stages depends on the cards that are revealed on the table. If they have improved your hand, encourage opponents to make significant contributions to the pot. When the board hasn’t enhanced the potential of borderline hands, it’s best to check, and if opponents bet, consider folding.
Differences Between Omaha High-Low and Other Poker Variants
Omaha High-Low differs from Texas Hold’em and classic Omaha in that players must simultaneously form two combinations, and the pot is split at showdown. Because of this, you need to adjust your gameplay and use different hand charts to evaluate strong starting hands.
Where to Play Omaha High-Low Online
This poker variant has gained widespread popularity, making it unnecessary to search for opponents in offline settings. You can choose to play online at any convenient time.
With Real Players
The most popular format for playing Omaha High-Low is with real opponents. You can find games with real players in both domestic and international online poker rooms. The Russian platform “Pokerdom” has the most significant number of players, offering tables with both real money stakes and free credits.
Playing with a Computer
If you don’t feel like playing with real people, you can opt for tables with bots. You can find them on entertainment-oriented websites that support various card games. Registration is not mandatory before playing on these sites, as they typically offer a guest mode. Users are usually provided with training tables to acquire practical skills before engaging in actual games with bots.
Playing with a Friend
For playing with a friend, you can use special applications designed for this purpose. Another option is to register on “Pokerdom” and create a private table. You can then invite your friend to join you and play against each other without involving other opponents.
Limits and Other Features of Omaha High-Low
In poker rooms, Omaha High-Low is available in three betting limit formats:
- FLO8: These are fixed limit tables where participants cannot exceed the predefined bet limits, which depend on the chosen table.
- PLO8: These tables feature pot-limit Omaha, where raises cannot exceed the current pot’s size.
- NLO8: These are no-limit tables with no restrictions on the maximum bet size. Participants can even go all-in, meaning they can wager their entire stack.
Another feature of this poker variant is that it’s relatively challenging to find high-stakes tables in poker rooms. Most of the action takes place at stakes ranging from $0.01/$0.02 to $5/$10. Games with higher blinds are rare and often in a heads-up format.
Getting Started for Beginners
Most poker enthusiasts prefer playing against real opponents, which requires becoming a client of a poker room and downloading the software. Only then can you join the pool of opponents and start participating in games.
Here’s an example of how a newcomer can start playing on “Pokerdom”:
- Account registration: Fill out the registration form on the poker room’s website, providing your email, password, and account currency.
- Downloading the game client: The download link can be found on the main page of “Pokerdom.” Installing the software is similar to installing other desktop applications.
- Depositing funds: Launch the client, log in, and top up your account using your bank card or an electronic wallet.
- Starting the game: Open the lobby in the client program, select one of the Omaha High-Low tables, and click the “Join” button.
To become a profitable player, continuous learning is essential. Beginners can take advantage of a free course at the “Pokerdom” school, while more advanced players can sign up for paid lessons available on specialized platforms. Alternatively, you can learn through books, video-on-demand (VoD) content, and informative articles.