Next to Pot Limit Omaha, Omaha Hi Lo (also referred to as Omaha 8 or Better,) is the most popular version of the game online and in card rooms. This game is not for the faint of heart. New players frequently find themselves confused when it comes to reading their hands. It’s highly recommend that you learn and become very familiar with Pot Limit Omaha or the like before attempting to play in Omaha Hi Lo games.
The major difference between “regular’ Omaha and the Hi Lo variant is the way that Hi Lo awards one or two pots to players depending on the hands in play during the showdown. Not only do players vie for the best high hand; they also need to consider the best low (or “lo”) hand.
The low pot is not as easy to determine as many players think it is. The best possible low hand in Omaha Hi Lo is the same as it is in Razz: 5432A, which is referred to as “the wheel.” Flushes and straights are never taken into consideration and if there is no qualifying low hand, the entire pot is awarded to the player with the best Omaha Hi hand.
As every poker player knows, reading your hand incorrectly is sloppy and can seriously derail your play. However, the tendency to mistake the actual strength of one’s hands is just as prevalent, particularly in Omaha Hi Lo where the learning curve kicks in. For example, as we stated, 5432A is the best low hand possible. What happens, though, if you hold 6538A and your opponent has 72364? Novice players would (understandably) assume that the hand without he Ace would win because Ace is the lowest ranked card when playing low. However, this is not the case and it this assumption has cost many a new player money. To rank a card as low, the dealer is going to use the lowest high card and then move down from there. In this case, 72364 is going to win because the high card here is 7 whereas the other hand has an 8 as the high card.
What makes a good starting hand in Omaha Hi-Lo? You really want to aim for double suited connecting cards and a high value pair, specifically something like AA23 double suited or A234, AAxx, 2345 etc. It’s important to remember that you should be careful with your low hands and avoid playing with a non-low nut. Before you play Omaha Hi/Lo, you should make sure you take the time to learn the value of the pocket cards.