Omaha Poker is played like Texas Hold ’Em with four cards. And, each player must use exactly two of their down cards with three of the five community cards.
In Omaha Hi-Low Split, half of the final pot goes to the best high hand, and half goes to the best low hand, which must be five different cards of eight or lower. Aces can play as high or low.
The best low hand is a wheel or Ace-2-3-4-5. Straights and Flushes don’t matter; they are still low. You must use two down cards, but you can win both the high and low hands (and scoop the whole pot) with the same or different cards.
Suppose you are holding Ace-2-3-4 which is a very nice starting hand for Hi-Low split games. The board is 2-4-3-J-Q of mixed suits, so there’s no Flush. At first glance, you might think you have the high and the low, but your lowest hand is Ace-2-3-4-Q, and that doesn’t qualify. You’ve got to have five different cards 8 and below. You do have two pair as a high hand, 3’s and 4’s with a Queen, but you’ll most likely get beat for high by a Straight – perhaps a wheel, or 2-3-4-5-6. Even Jacks and 2’s beats you.
Omaha Hi-Low’s Best Starting Hands
About 30% of all hands in Omaha Hi-Low will not qualify for a low (boards like 7-7-4-K-J), so there are times when a one-way start will win, but mostly you’ll want four cards that can win the low and might make a high Flush or Straight.
To that end, the best starting hand is Ace-Ace-2-3 double suited, meaning you can make the nut Flush with two suits (such as Ace-2 in clubs, Ace-3 in hearts).
Most of the top 300 starting hands in Omaha Hi-Low include a combination of Ace-Ace and two babies (2, 3, 4, 5), an Ace with three babies, or an Ace with two babies and a face card (so you can make the nut straight).
It’s also preferable to have the Ace-baby suited and the facecard suited with the other baby card. These combinations will win most hands. Other cards that morph into big Full Houses can be strong too, such as King-King-6-6 where you have two chances to make your hand.
Just keep in mind that you need one of your cards to show and you need the board to pair. With that in mind, any pair on board means a Full House is possible, and your 6’s full might not be good. Also, remember that it is great to start with Ace-2, but if your other cards are poor (like 6-9, K-7, etc.) you’ve got a one-way hand.
You’re going to be shooting to make the low only most of the time, and that’s a killer in Hi-Low because you won’t make the nut low often enough to make it profitable.
When you’ve got the nut high with a Flush or Full House, you can raise, knowing you’re getting half the pot. But don’t raise with just the nut low because you might be splitting it more than one way. Even one other low winner means you’ll only get back one quarter of the pot and if you raise $16, you only get back $12.
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