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Omaha Hi-Lo Basic Strategy

Article By: RuffPoker.com

Omaha Hi-Lo is one of the most popular Omaha variants out there. It would stand to reason that such a popular game would have a lot of followers who are good at it, but that statement couldn’t be further from the truth.

Omaha Hi-Lo is a game with many nuances that the average player fails to recognize and as a result, this game is full of players who have no idea what they’re doing. These players either play hands that are strong in Omaha high (ex. AKQJ) or they draw to the low hoping to win half the pot. Both of these strategies are huge mistakes in Omaha Hi-Lo. Here’s a basic strategy guide for players who want to exploit all of the fish that make their way to Omaha Hi-Lo tables.

Pre-flop Play

Hand selection is very important in Omaha. You can’t limp with trash hoping to flop a monster hand and win a large pot like you can in No-Limit Hold’em. Omaha is a game of the nuts. Two pair may be a big hand in Texas Hold’em, but in Omaha two pair will often lose to a straight, or a flush. Players who play super-tight pre-flop are usually winners in Omaha.
Hands that look strong tend to be weak Omaha Hi-Lo hands. For example, AKQJ double suited is a strong starting hand in Omaha Hi, but it’s a marginal Omaha Hi-Lo starting hand because you have no chance of winning the low side of the pot unless no one qualifies.

Some examples of strong Omaha Hi-Lo starting hands are: A234, A2xx, AAxx, and 2345. You can also play hands like KQ23 and hope to capture the high with your KQ and the low with your 23, but these hands are much more speculative.

Post-flop Play

The pots in Omaha Hi-Lo tend to get very high so you’ll often have odds for most draws. However you don’t want to draw to the low unless you have a strong draw to the nut low. When you draw to the low, you’re usually drawing to win half the pot. The key to winning Omaha Hi-Lo is to “scoop” the pot. When you scoop the pot, you win both the high and the low side of the pot. For example, if you hold A267 and the flop comes 345, you’re winning both sides of the pot. You have the nut low with your five-high (A2345) and the nut high with your seven-high straight (34567). You’re in an excellent position to scoop this pot.

Remember that flushes and straights don’t count for the low, so an ace-high flush could potentially win both the high and the low if all the other suited cards are below an eight.

When you play Omaha Hi-Lo, you should be playing to scoop the pot. When you have to split the pot, you usually win only a little more than you invested and there’s always a chance you’ll be quartered (win only a quarter of the pot). By playing super-tight Omaha Hi-Lo poker, you can capitalize on all of the people who play Omaha Hi-Lo the same way they play Omaha Hi.