Beginning Omaha Hi-Lo – Reading The Board

For those players new to Omaha Hi-Lo making errors reading the board are fairly common. This article will show you how to read the board for both the high hands and the low hands to help you avoid those costly mistakes!

The golden rule of Omaha poker is this – to make a hand at showdown you must use 2 cards from your own 4 card personal hand and 3 from the board. No other combination is accepted – 2 and only 2 from your hand 3 and only 3 from the community card board.

In Omaha Hi-Lo reading the board is complicated by the fact that high and low hands are assessed independently at showdown. This means that it is possible for the 2 cards from your hand that you use to be part of both the high and low hands – especially true in the case of aces which are the lowest card and can also make top pair.
The following examples will help you to understand how hands are calculated at showdown in Omaha poker. We have included high-only hands, low only hands and ‘scoop’ hands which make both a high and low.

Reading The Board In Omaha Hi-Lo – High Only Hands

Community Cards: 7-7-7-5-Q
Your Cards: 3-3-A-Q

Here your best hand is a full house, sevens full of 3’s – since you must use 2 cards from your hand the queen can not make a higher full house. Any opponent with a pair higher than 3’s will beat you on this board, we should also note that this pot would not be split with a low – since this would require 3 different low cards on the flop.

Community Cards: 5-6-7-8-9 (All Spades)
Your Cards: 10 (spades)-5-5-5

Here you do not have a straight flush or even a straight! Since you must use 2 cards from your own hand the best hand you can make on this board is in fact trip 5’s. Any opponent holding 2 spades will beat you here, as will any opponent holding a 4 or 10 + one card from the board, combinations such as 10-J or 3-4 or someone holding 2 of the cards from the board – a dangerous situation!

Reading The Board In Omaha Hi-Lo – High And Low Hands

Community Cards: 5-6-8-Q-K (4 different suits)
Your Cards: A-2-7-9

Here you have both the strongest possible low using your Ace and Two and the best possible high with your seven and nine – the ‘nuts’ in both the high and the low pots is what you are aiming for in Omaha Hi-Lo, here you will likely scoop the pot or win 3/4ths of the pot if you end up sharing the low side with an opponent.

Community Cards: A-3-6-K-K (3 hearts)
Your Cards: A(hearts)-3 (hearts)-4 –Q

This was an goodt starting hand in Omaha Hi-Lo however this time by the river you have no low hand and a vulnerable high hand. To make a low you need 5 different cards 8 or below, here you can only complete 4 low cards (using ace-four). You have the nut flush using the 2 hearts from you hand. However the board has paired on the end – meaning any opponent with a pair of aces, threes, or sixes, or a single king along with a single ace, three or six now has a full house.

Community Cards: A-A-3-7-J
Your Cards: A-2-4-J

Here you have a monster hand, using the ace and jack you have the best possible full house and using the 2 and 4 from your hand you have made the best possible low. Bet this hand at every opportunity – monsters like these do not come around too often!!