How To Play Omaha Hi-Lo Split 8-or Better

Omaha Hi-Lo is the ‘split pot’ version of the increasingly popular Omaha Poker, it can be played with many betting types (Pot-Limit / Fixed Limit or No-Limit) and is an enjoyable (and profitable!) game in both cash game and tournament format. You will see this version of Omaha called many names. The full title is Omaha High-Low Split 8 Or Better, however this is usually shortened to Omaha Hi-Lo or Omaha 8 or Better. You may also see PLO8 – this refers to the Pot-Limit betting version of the game.

This article provides a simple guide to the rules of how to play Omaha Hi-Lo by running through the play of a hand from before the cards are dealt through to assessing the winning hands at the end. A basic familiarity with poker hand ranks, terms such as ‘the flop’ and ‘blinds’ are assumed.

The key factor in Omaha Hi-Lo is that the pot is split at showdown between the highest poker hand and the ‘lowest’ poker hand. To qualify for a low hand players must have 5 different cards ranked 8 or below, 2 from their own hand and 3 from the board. The best low hand being that with 5 different ‘smallest’ cards – the best possible is A-2-3-4-5.

In Omaha Poker each player is dealt 4 cards before the flop. At the end of the hand 2 (and only 2) cards from an individuals hand, together with 3 cards from the board, will be used to assess the best hand. In Omaha Hi-Lo the highest poker hand and the low hand are assessed independently… while you must use the 2 (hand) and 3 (board) card combination for each hand, the fact that they are assessed separately means that you can use one or more of the same cards for each hand – aces are the best example here.

An Example Of Determining Best Hands Using 2 and 3 Rule

Your Hand: A-2-5-K
The Flop: A-3-7-K-9

Best Low Using 2 From Your Hand And 3 From The Board = A-2-3-5-7 (ace-three-seven from the board + two-five from your hand)

Best High Using 2 From Your Hand And 3 From The Board = A-A-K-K-9 (ace-king from your hand makes 2 pair with ace-king from the board with the 9 kicker)

Blinds are posted in the same way as in Holdem poker before the cards are dealt in Omaha 8 or better. The player to the left of the dealer position posts a ‘small blind’ and the next playerleft a ‘big blind’. Each player is then dealt 4 cards face-down (visible only to the individual). The player left of the big blind will then start the action for the pre-flop betting round by folding, calling (matching the amount of the big blind) or raising.

How much can be raised will depend on the betting rules being used, here we will assume a fixed betting structure – noting differences for pot-limit and no-limit betting at the end of the article. A raise here will be twice the big blind, any additional raises are in the same increments. For example in a $1 / $2 game the initial raise is to $4, the next raise to $6 and so on – there are a maximum of 4 raises per betting round.

Once each player has either folded or matched the last raise made the flop is dealt. This comprises 3 cards dealt face-up in the centre of the table. Since at the end of the hand each player must use 2 of their own cards and 3 cards from the ‘board’ the flop will give an idea of the potential strength of hands and help you to decide whether to continue with the hand.

A second betting round then commences, starting with the first player still involved in the hand to the left of the dealer position. Once complete a 4th community card (the turn) is dealt followed by another round of betting. As in many fixed limit games the betting limits are doubled once the turn is dealt – in this example the minimum bet and raise is now $4, again there are a maximum of 4 raises allowed. The final community card (the river) is dealt next followed by a final round of betting.

Once the final round of betting is concluded players still in the hand must show down their cards to determine who wins both the high and the low sides of the pot. The golden rule (as in all Omaha games) is: “2 from your hand and 3 from the board”

No other variations are allowed! If there are 3 different cards 8 or lower on the community card board then a low hand is possible, this is assessed independently of the high hand. Players with 5 different cards 8 or lower qualify for the low, the lowest hand winning half of the pot. The highest poker hand will then be awarded the ‘high’ side of the pot.

It is possible (and indeed common) that 2 players share the low side of the pot. For example if the community cards are 4-5-7-K-K and 2 players both hold A-2-X-X (where X = high cards) then both players have made the best possible low of A-2-4-5-7. In this case the low pot is divided between these 2 players, while the high side of the pot is assessed independently.

Pot-Limit is a popular betting structure for Omaha Hi-Lo. In this game the minimum bet (or raise) is the size of the big blind, while the maximum is the size of the current pot. There are no restrictions on how many raises can be made per round in this betting style, however, if 2 or more players raise the size of the pot then the chips will quickly run out. No-Limit betting is also possible for Omaha Hi-Lo, in this case players can bet up to the amount of chips they have in front of them at any point in the hand!

Both pot-limit Omaha Hi-Lo and No-limit can lead to a player running out of chips while the other players are still involved in the hand. If this is the case the pot to which the ‘all-in’ player contributed must be closed and separated. Any players who still wish to bet will then start a new pot (called a ‘side pot’) in which the all-in player has no interest. The all-in player can only win the chips in the closed pot to which they contributed at the end of the hand.

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