Omaha Strategy: Hutchinson’s Hi-Lo Point Count System

Back in the late 90s, Dr. Ed Hustinson came up with a “point count” system for starting hand selection in Omaha Hi-Lo games. The idea is actually a pretty sound one: to create statistically-derived value for both high and low possibilities in different starting hands, based on their expected profitability in the average casual game.

The point count method first identifies whether your hand qualifies as a “high only” hand. The criteria for this is naturally pretty strict; with 4 cards that are 10 or above required along with some other required features like a pair and two suited cards or two pair or double-suited unpaired cards. If your hand isn’t high-only, then it needs to go through the full point-counting process to determine its strength.

Step 1 of the Omaha-Hi Lo Point Counting System
Take the two lowest cards in your hand and assign points based on the chart below:
A-2 = 20 points
A-3 = 17 points
A-4 = 13 points
A-5 = 10 points
2-3 = 15 points
2-4 = 12 points
3-4 = 11 points
4-5 = 8 points

Step 2 of the Omaha-Hi Lo Point Counting System
Assess only the remaining two cards that are not the cards used in step one. In other words, if you have A22X, then you don’t assign points for the 2 at this stage.)

Any 3 = 9 points
Any 4 = 6 points
Any 5 = 4 points
Any Jack, Queen or King = 2 points
Any 6 or 10 = 1 point

Step 3 of the Omaha-Hi Lo Point Counting System
Extra points are now awarded for any pairs. If you have a third card that matches the pair, then you should only assign half the points noted

Pair of Aces = 8 Points
Pair of Kings = 6 Points
Pair of Queens = 5 points
Pair of Jacks = 2 points
Pair of Tens, Fours or Threes = 1 point
Pair of Twos = 3 points

Step 4 of the Omaha-Hi Lo Point Counting System
Finally, you take the suitedness of the cards into account. It’s important to note that if you have three cards of the same suit, then you can only assign half the score given. Four cards of the same suit mean that no points are assigned at all. If your hand is double suited then assign points for both suits.

Ace + = 4 points
King + = 3 points
Queen or Jack + = 2 points
Eight, Nine or 10 + = 1 point

Finally, you total up the scores and decide whether to play based on these two simple rules:

20 Points or more (or high only) = Play This Hand
30 Points or more = Consider Raising With This Hand

This system is good for beginners who want to play a more mathematically-included game while they get a better understanding of the more psychological and esoteric aspects of Omaha Hi-Lo, especially because of its strict rules regarded high hands. Too many players that are new to Omaha Hi-Lo play far too many high hands.

Frankly, it seems that Hutchinson’s system is a little too complex for ease of use at online poker tables, especially with the fast pace of today’s games. What does very well is to show that a good low hand is often determined by the accompanying cards and the amount they assist.