Omaha Hi-Lo Rules


Learn how to play Omaha Hi-Lo PokerFor many players this is the natural introduction to high-low split games. With the basic concepts of Omaha poker already established in many live poker  players and online poker players' minds, Omaha Hi-Lo Poker offers new challenges and strategies to master.

Unlike a regular Omaha Poker hand, in Omaha H-Lo Poker the pot is split in half between the high hand and low hand, and our how to play guide can show you how.

To qualify for the low hand a player must have 5 cards which are 8 or lower and no pairs, (straights or flushes are fine) and the lower the better (ace can count as low). The ‘best' low hand is therefore A-2-3-4-5.

The high hand part of the pot plays as normal with the player having the best regular poker ranking hand winning that part of the pot. Should there be no low hand that qualifies then the high hand will ‘scoop' the whole pot.

An Omaha Poker Hi-Lo starting hand now has different requirements; hands that fulfil Omaha Hi-Lo strategy are those that give options to scoop the whole pot by winning both high and low are now of far higher value.

For those players looking for a more cerebral game, or an introduction to mixed games then this is one of the best places to start, and our how to play guide can give you everything you need.

How to play Omaha Hi-Lo Poker: Step-by-step Guide

In this guide we will detail all the necessary steps to help you feel at home on the tables. We have even enlisted the sage advice of some proven and accomplished players whose results and experience here at Ladbrokes Poker  speaks for itself. They have generously given their time to provide some helpful strategy, hints and tips.

If you wish to practice what you will learn below, but want to feel your way a bit further into the game, then we have a vast selection of free money poker tables available for you on the site.

The Blinds and the Button

At the start of every Omaha poker hand, whether it is high-low or high only, there are two things that are a constant: the button and the blinds.

The button is a disc placed in front of a player, and signifies who the dealer for that hand is.

The blinds are forced bets (so called because the players have to post them ‘blind' before they see any cards) placed by the two players to the immediate left of the button. The first player posts the small blind and the second player posts the big blind. The small blind is generally half the big blind although in Omaha it is not uncommon for both the blinds to be identical in cash games. Each hand the button progresses one place to the left and so do both the blinds.

The Variation

As the name suggests, Omaha Hi-Lo has different values to a standard game.

In a standard game of Omaha poker, the players are only fighting over one pot. In Omaha Hi-Lo (sometimes seen written as "high-low") the pot is split into two - one part for the high hand and one part for the low hand. Now this is where it gets a little tricky and is often one of the things that trips up new players to the game. It is actually quite simple but bears taking a moment to be fully clear on.

As with a normal Omaha hand a player must use two cards from their hand and three from the board, however in Hi-Lo, these cards do not need to be the same for the high and the low – a player may use any combination of two cards for each part of the pot and may use the same card or indeed two cards twice.

The high part of the pot is won as per normal, the highest Omaha poker hand wins. This remains the same. However; the low hand catches out some players new to the game, so let's take a minute to explain it.

To ‘qualify' for the low hand a player must have five cards eight or lower (not involving any pairs and an ace can count as low). Two of the five cards must be from a player's hand and three of the five cards must be from the board and no copies. With this now said, one may realise that many times, there may not be three cards 8 or lower on the board. When this happens there is deemed to be no low hand and the high hand will play for the whole pot.

The low hand is worked out by count back from the highest card first. So if a player held the cards: 7,6,4,3,2 that would be a better low hand than say 8,4,3,2,A, even though the second hand has the lower small cards it is the seven in this case that is key. Let's look at one more, 7,5,3,2,A in comparison to 7,5,4,2,A. In this case it's the first hand which wins again. On count back, the 4 is key, 7, 5, then 3 against 7, 5 then 4. With straights and flushes not counting for the low (and also not counting against you) the best low hand is now A,2,3,4,5, a hand also known as the Wheel. And there can be a lot of potential for split pots, especially on the low hand.

Pre-Flop Action

In Omaha Hi-Lo poker, unlike Texas Hold'em poker, a player is dealt 4 down or hole cards.

Once a player has received their pocket cards (hole cards) cards, they are faced with their first decision to play or not to play. Simply a player must decide if they are in or out and do this by matching the bet that stands when the action reaches them (or indeed raising that amount if the feeling so takes them). Betting will go in sequence starting from the first player to the left of the dealer and continue round the table sequentially in a clockwise fashion until all bets have been matched.

The possible actions available to any player are Fold, Call or Raise.

As the action moves around the table pre-flop players wishing to remain in the hand will have to at least call (match) the big blind bet, OR if a previous player has raised (increased the bet) then that bet will have to be at least called to remain in the hand. A player always has the option to fold anytime the action is on them (it is their turn).

If there has been no raise when the action (betting round) returns to the big blind player, that player will still have the option to raise if they so desire. Any money put into the pot by a player before any cards are dealt counts as part of their overall bet. So if the blinds are £1 (sb) and £2 (bb) and there is no raise before the action gets to the small blind, then he or she will only have to put an extra £1 into the pot to match the £2 as they already have £1 invested prior to the dealing of the cards.

Once all bets are matched, the flop is dealt.

The Flop

The flop consists of three cards being dealt face up in the middle of the table. These are community cards, meaning they are shared by all the players and may form part of anyone's hand.

A round of betting will now follow starting from the player to the immediate left of the button and continuing clockwise around the table.

Once again any player will have the option to Fold, Check, Call or Raise. A check, simply, is a situation where there is currently no bet that stands which a player would have to match, so a player may decide to continue that by checking (essentially calling a bet of zero). Betting will continue as detailed above until all bets are matched.

Once this happens, the next card is dealt.


The Turn

The turn card (or fourth street) is dealt face up in the middle of the table and becomes another community card. A round of betting then ensues in the same fashion as detailed above. The players who remain after this round of betting will then see the final card.

The River

The final card is the River (or fifth street); this is dealt face up in the middle of the table and is also a community card. Players now have all the cards they will. The idea is to make the best 5 card poker hand from the nine available (four pocket or hole cards and the five community cards).

The final round of betting now follows in the same fashion as previous rounds. Those players that still remain after the completion of the betting then go to the showdown.

The Showdown

Once all betting has been completed the players who remain show their cards. If there was betting on the last round then the player who made the last positive action (last player to make a bet – not to call one) will show first, if the last round of betting involved all players ‘checking' then it will be the player to the immediate left of the button who will show first then clockwise from there.

The player with the best five-card hand wins the pot. In the event of any player's hands being the same, the poker pot will be equally divided between the players.

The rules of Omaha Hi-Lo poker gives no differentiation between suits so split pots can be common.

Unlike in Hold'em Poker, where a player can use any combination of hole cards and board cards, In Omaha a player MUST use two cards from their hand, no more and no less, to form their 5-card poker hand.

The button now moves clockwise to the next player and a new hand begins.

Now you've gone through our how to play Omaha poker guide, try out your new skills by signing up and downloading our online poker tables today.