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Omaha & Omaha Hi/Lo Basics

One of the most profitable variations of poker today, especially online, is the Omaha high/low split eight-or-better, which is generally referred to as Omaha/8. One of the reasons for its profitability is that Omaha/8 is a very straight forward and mathematically predictable game giving it much less short-term variance, or luck, than that of Hold’em.

Outlined below are some basics such as how to play and how to read both high and low hands, which can be of great help in future games. Only after you have a solid understanding of the rules, should you continue with the Omaha/8 strategy sections. They cover basic and advanced strategy for both limit and pot limit Omaha/8.

Omaha/8 can be played with anywhere from two to ten players with most rooms usually running full tables of nine or ten players. The player to the left of the dealer (or button), places a forced bet, called the small blind. The player to the left of the small blind player, places a forced bet called the big blind. The big blind is equal to the lower betting limit of the game. For example, in a 10/20 game the big blind is ten. The small blind is half the big blind, or five in our example.

Each player then receives four cards face down, often called hole cards, and the first round of betting starts with the player to the left of the big blind, who can fold, call or raise. The play continues to the left until it reaches the player at the big blind, who may check if the pot hasn’t been raised or decide to raise. Three cards are then placed face up in the center of the table. This process is called the flop and these cards are community cards that can be used by every player in order to form their best hand.

Right after this, the second round of betting starts, this time with the first person still involved in the hand to the left of the dealer. A fourth community card, often called the turn, is placed face up in the center, followed by a third round of betting. This round and the last round after that are at the upper limit in limit play (twenty in our example). The last community card, called the river, is now placed face up in the center of the table and the last round of betting takes place.

The Pot is Awarded Based on the Following Rules

If there is not a possible low hand, the high hand wins the entire pot. If two players tie for the best high hand, then the pot is split between both players.

If one or more players have a qualifying low hand the pot is split. Half the pot is awarded to the best high hand and the other half is awarded to the best low hand. In the event of a tie, half of the pot awarded is split between the two players. This is often called "getting quartered".

The single most important rule to remember in Omaha/8 is that you must always use exactly two cards from your hand and three from the community cards in order to form your best hand. If you have both a high and a low hand, you can use two different cards from your hand to form them, but you are still required to use only two.

Another major problem area for many players, particularly for Hold’em players, is playing too many hands. Some players incorrectly assume that because they start with four cards instead of two, they can play a higher percentage of starting hands. This mistake can make even the greatest player lose money. Just like most forms of poker, holding a tight and aggressive play is the path to prosperity. This means only playing around 25% of your starting hands.

Many players tend to look for reasons not play a hand instead of taking the risk and playing it. This may sound like a small thing, but by evaluating the shortcomings of a hand you can quickly become a better player.

A challenge that everyone faces when learning Omaha/8 is how to correctly read low hands. Try to keep that in mind, because each player is only allowed to use two hole cards and three from the board. The only hands that can be split are the ones with three unpaired cards of eight or less on the board.


The Fastest way to read low Hands

The fastest way to read low hands is to read them backwards as a number. When comparing two or more hands this way, the lowest number wins. Here is an example, starting with the lowest hand and ending with the highest.

54,321

A 2 3 4 5

75,431

A 3 4 5 7

76,542

2 4 5 6 7

84,321

A 2 3 4 8
 
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