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How to Play Omaha Hi-Lo Poker
Omaha Hi-Lo poker shares the exact same game structure as Omaha Hi as well as the same rules, with one crucial exception: Omaha Hi-Lo rewards both the highest five-card hand and the lowest five-card combination, as long as it qualifies as a low hand. This poker variant falls under the category of Split Poker games, since there is a great potential for the pot to be split between two players at the end of each round.
What Qualifies as a Low Hand in Omaha Hi-Lo Poker?
Lowball poker variants reward the lowest hand alone, disregarding the high hand. These games have no limitations regarding what is considered to be a low hand. Hi-Low Split games, on the other hand, have specific requirements for a low hand to qualify. Only if there is a qualifying hand is the pot split, otherwise the highest ranked hand takes it all. The two conditions for qualifying as a low hand in Omaha Hi-Lo are:
- The five-card hand must be unpaired
- Every card must be an eight or lower
For example, 8,4,6,3,A of any suit qualifies as a low hand, while 9,4,6,3,A or 8,4,3,3,A do not.
Evaluating the Low Hand in Omaha Hi-Lo Poker
The hand with the highest low card loses. For example – 6,5,4,3,2 beats 7,5,4,3,2. But what if both hands have the same card value for their highest card? Then you must follow this simple rule: In Omaha Hi Low, as well as other Split Games, hands are counted from the highest card down, not from the lowest card up. For example, 8,6,5,4,3 beats 8,7,2,3,A, since after the 8 is evaluated, the 6 is matched up against the 7. Even though the hand with the 7 ‘finishes stronger’ - with an ace and other low cards - the hand with the 6 beats it. In Omaha Hi-Lo, Flushes and Straights don’t count against you for making the Low hand, but do count towards a High hand, making 5,4,3,2,A, also known as ‘the wheel’, an extremely strong hand.
Remember, Omaha Hi-Lo is a variant of Omaha. Players must therefore use exactly two of their four pocket cards and three community cards to make up a hand. You can, however, use two cards to make up your High hand, and two different cards to make up your Low hand, so players stand a chance to win the whole pot using different combinations of the same hand.