Omaha vs Omaha Hi/Lo
written by: John
Although they may share the same name and most of the same rules, many players will mistake Omaha and Omaha Hi/Lo for the same when they are in fact two different games that require different approaches in strategy.
To find out more about what makes these two games so different, please continue reading below.
Omaha 'Hi' is played in a similar fashion to Texas Hold'em in terms of the overall goal being to make the best five-card poker hand possible. The key difference of course from Omaha from Hold'em is that players will start with 4 hole cards; and from those 4 cards, players must make 2 of their hole cards, no more and no less, work with 3 of the community cards to make the best 5-card hand possible.
Starting hands will resemble those from Hold'em as well with pairs of Aces and Kings, preferably double suited, being the best hand in Omaha Hi. Here are the top 5 hands for Omaha Hi:
1. A-A-K-K double suited
2. A-A-J-10 double suited
3. A-A-Q-Q double suited
4. A-A-J-J double suited
5. A-A-10-10 double suited
The biggest approach to strategy in Omaha Hi is to focus on playing hands that will give you multiple opportunities to draw (re-draw) to the 'nuts.' For example, playing A-A-K-K can give you a straight on a board such as Q-J-10, but this is hand is much better if the A-K is suited allowing it the opportunity to 're-draw' to a better hand; in this case the better hand being a nut flush.
If the pot has not been won due to a player betting all the other players out pre-flop, on the flop, on the turn or on the river, then the remaining players will then go to showdown and the player with the best 5-card poker hand will win the pot.
Omaha Hi/Lo, also known as Omaha 8 or better or Hi/Lo split, is virtually the same game as Omaha except that there are potentially two pots for every hand, the high pot and the low pot. This means that players can actually win one-half of the pot by winning the best 'hi' 5-card poker hand or the other half of the pot by winning the best low hand. Low hands in Hi/Lo must have 5 card all of which must have values of 8 or lower with a wheel, A thru 5, being the nut low hand. Players can also 'scoop' the pot if they happen to have the best Hi and the best Lo hand or if there happens to be no qualifying low.
Starting hands are going to vary a bit from those of the Omaha Hi game because now players must be concerned with trying to draw to a low hand as well to try and 'scoop' the pot. The following are the top 5 Omaha low starting hands:
1. A-A-2-3 double suited
2. A-A-2-4 double suited
3. A-2-3-4 double suited
4. A-2-4-5 double suited
5. A-3-4-5 double suited
As you can see, the idea that they are double suited is similar to playing Omaha Hi. This will ensure that players have more than one hand to draw to and allow them to re-draw to a better hand.
Another thing that you may notice is the fact that these are all baby cards with no face cards. There is a reason behind the madness though. In Omaha Hi/Lo, players need to focus on scooping the pot and while Hi cards can win a "Hi" pot, there is no way for them to win a low pot. However, low cards such as the ones we listed above can win the low pot but can also win a high pot in the case that the player draws to a wheel or draws to a flush. This makes playing smaller cards such as these a bit more sought after to play.
Aside from just splitting the pot in Omaha Hi/Lo, players can also 'quarter' the pot which means split one of the two pots amongst someone else. For example, if there were 3 players in a $600 pot and one player won the high hand, he would win half the pot for $300. If the other two players had the same lo hand, then they would split the remaining $300 between themselves for $150 each. This can be a negative proposition over the long run if a player isn't careful.
Lastly, a big difference between the two games is the ability to bluff. In Omaha, players are only shooting for the Hi hand so there is a bit of room for maneuvering for a bluff attempt. However, in Omaha Hi/Lo it is just too likely that a player has at least the low pot and will call you down to be sure to get it. Not saying it is impossible, just that it is very difficult to bluff in Hi/Lo.
Differences/Similarities - Omaha vs Omaha Hi/Lo
Although there are more differences than similarities, players should know that these two games do have a few things in common. One, Omaha is a 'nut' game which means that players should be going for the nuts only when attempting to enter a pot. This is because there are so many draws out there that the best hand on the flop can easily be drawing dead on the turn. Additionally, most hands that tend to win in games like Hold'em such as pairs and two pairs tend not to hold up in Omaha or Hi/Lo. Again, because of all the draws more premium hands go to showdown such as straights and flushes while trips are mediocre at best.
In closing, these two games are very different but not so different that a player would have a difficult time moving from one game to the other as long as they realized that each game had their own nuances and as a result, had their own approach to winning.