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Poker News | Online Poker | News

Omaha Poker rules

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Are you an on-line player who plays only Texas Hold’em but are intrigued about Omaha? Perhaps you have played some Omaha but are wondering about Omaha Hi/Lo that is also on offer. Is it the lottery that it sounds?
In my view, Omaha Hi/Lo is entertaining and frustrating in equal measure. It also requires a good slab of discipline for that very reason. It is so easy to get involved in every hand if you do not appreciate the values of your starting hands.

Omaha Hi/Lo is a game where you should be folding a high percentage of your hands before the flop.
In Omaha Hi/Lo, the money that goes into the pot in every hand is available to be won with two hands, one based on traditional high values (full house, flush, straight, pair, etc) and one based on low cards (where there is no concept of a full house, flush, straight or pair). The pot is split in half for this.

A low hand is made up of card denominations only. The suits are ignored and it does not matter if all five cards are consecutive. A straight means nothing for the low card ranking. A low hand is comprised five different denominations all of which must be no higher than 8. The lowest value is A, the ace. The ranking is as follows:
Best hand (“The Low Nuts”) 5, 4, 3, 2, A
2nd best hand……………… 6, 4, 3, 2, A
3rd…………………………. 6, 5, 3, 2, A
4th…………………………. 6, 5, 4, 2, A
5th…………………………. 6, 5, 4, 3, A
6th…………………………. 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
7th…………………………. 7, 4, 3, 2, A
8th…………………………. 7, 5, 3, 2, A
9th…………………………. 7, 5, 4, 2, A

and so on until:
3rd worst low hand………… 8, 7, 6, 5, 2
2nd worst low hand………… 8, 7, 6, 5, 3
Worst hand………………… 8, 7, 6, 5, 4

This means that the five community board cards must comprise at least three different cards from the list 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A for there even to be a low hand in the game. Also, at least one person must have a further two different cards from that list in their hole cards.

If either of these situations is not present, there is no “qualifying low hand” and the pot will be won by the one person with the best High hand.
If you are in a position to make a low hand (that is, at least two of your hole cards are 8 or less (and of different values such as 8, A or 7, 4), you should think very carefully before entering the pot if one of them is not an ace. The list above will tell you immediately that the winning low hand almost always contains an ace.
When there is a qualifying low hand, the winner receives a maximum of half the pot. Sometimes, and it is often when two or more people each hold an A, 2 combination, a low pot is split so you receive only a quarter of the overall pot. This highlights the danger of concentrating on chasing low pots.

You can only ever win half the money in the middle with a low pot and sometimes a lot less.
This leads to an obvious conclusion which many people overlook. You should normally aim to start with hole cards that show promise of winning the high pot.

There is a lot to consider in the game of Omaha Hi/Lo and this short article has only scratched the surface. Hopefully it has given you a basic idea and you should now take a look at a Hi/Lo game and watch it in action. If you want to get some experience, play for very low stakes to start with. You will soon get to see the subtleties emerge.

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