If you’ve never noticed, Omaha Hi-Lo is a game with a lot of action, no matter where you play it: online, in a casino or at a home game. That combination of four hole cards and two different ways to win means that multiple players are going to be involved on every street and pots are going to get huge, even when playing “just” fixed-limit or pot-limit poker. More players and aggressive betting means that you can well be looking at putting your entire stack in on the river — should you?
The answer for this is actually pretty simple: do you have the nuts? No? Then fold. It’s unlikely that your opponent is betting while holding nothing because Omaha is a game that only rarely rewards aggressive bluffing, and usually only in very specific situations. Every player is holding four pocket cards before the flop and there are a lot of hands that are relatively close to each other as far as their value goes. Showdowns in Omaha involve the nuts much more often than they do in Texas Hold ‘Em and other variations of the game and most players keep that in mind when placing a bet.
With Hi-Lo there is the possibility that your opponent is going the other way, working to build a hand that’s not going to scoop, but will instead be a great high hand but work poorly as a low hand. This is always a possibility, but you have to consider what that means for you: if you call and are right, you get half the pot and if you are wrong, well, you lose everything. The pot equity in a situation like this makes it rarely worth following through.
In fact, I believe that there are only two situations in which it’s worth calling on the river in Omaha Hi-Lo if you’re not holding the best hand: when you’re holding a strong hand and there are only two perfect cards that can make the nuts or when it’s just you and one other opponent.
Situation #1: Just Two Perfect Cards
Let’s say that you have the King-high diamond flush and another player opts to go all-in on the river. It can be a painful decision to fold here, but you should do it – losing to an Ace-high flush can brutally hurt your bankroll. On the other hand, let’s say you’re holding KK34 and the board reads K889T as a rainbow. An opponent that goes all-in here has to have 88 to win, which means they got exactly the last two eights in the deck. It’s more likely they’ve got the other King and have made a pair or is looking at making a set with the 9 or T.
Situation #2: Just Two Players And One Big Pot
We’ve discussed the situation where you get the impression that your opponent is working for high or low while you’re building a hand heading the opposite direction. If getting half the pot means that you can add a great deal more money to your stack than what you’ve put into it, then it’s worth considering. It’s also conceivable that your opponent maybe be looking at trying a bluff, despite the fact that they rarely work in Omaha poker.
When you play Omaha Hi-Lo, you have to track more than just your own hand. Keep note of how your opponents bet and when.