Basic Poker Strategy: Hands to Avoid In Omaha Hi-Lo

Many newcomers to Omaha Hi-Lo poker fall into a common trap: they’ve heard that every hand is playable so they try to play every hand. While Omaha Hi-Lo does offer more readily-playable hands due to the fact that you can aim for both ends, there’s actually some hands that you might play in stud or Omaha/8 that are just out-and-out bad news in Hi-Lo. Let’s take a look at a few hands that are, at best, dodgy, to borrow a phrase from the Brits. For the record, any suits used are just examples.

QcJc6s5s Looks Nice, But Isn’t

This is the sort of hand that a hold ‘em player leaps forward: there’s two hands that are pretty decent in a regular hold ‘em game, but they’re completely uncoordinated for Omaha. Neither the five or six work with the queen or jack and despite the wisdom, two playable Hold ‘Em hands do not necessarily make a playable Omaha hand. You’ll see other hands that fit this mold: Jh8h5c5d and AhKh3c3h

KhQd7s6c – Two Straights That Aren’t

Looking at this, you’re likely to see two possibilities for straights, but if you play this hand, you’re very likely to get kicked to the curb by a good, not even great, Omaha hand being held by someone else.

7s7c4c2d – Weak

Just plain weak. A set of sevens is, at best, only slightly playable and capable of winning a pot and if you made a seven-high flush, you’re still looking at being bested by other cards and your four-deuce or seven-four combinations can only make the saddest of hands.

4d4s3c3h – Second Best

Low sets and baby straights almost always mean the second best hand that can cost you more than a split pot can net you, and since pretty much every pot in Omaha Hi-Lo games gets split, it’s important to dig up the willpower to say no.

Ah2s3s4d – Beatable Even If It Looks Nice

You’d raise with this hand when playing Omaha/8, but you shouldn’t even call with it in Omaha Hi-Lo. Any straight that you make is likely to be bested by a bigger one and hitting a three-high flush and winning the pot is the sort of thing that simply never happens, and if an ace hits the felt, your kicker is so low that you’ll be beaten by someone else’s pair.

Hopefully, looking at these hands and understanding why each one is suboptimal will help you filter out the hands that you do play better. Learning to stay out of hands is just as important as learning how to maximize the hands you have and the more money you keep in your bankroll, the more money you’ll be able to collect from others who haven’t learned when to hold em, fold em, etc, etc.