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Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better Poker

: Game Rules & Strategy
Object: In Omaha Hi/Lo 8 or better (Omaha Hi/Lo) the pot is split 50-50 between the best High Hand and the best qualifying Low Hand. Omaha Hi/Lo requires a lot of skill and usually takes a little practice to understand the intricacies of the game.

Omaha Hi/Lo is structurally played the same as Omaha High except that the highest hand wins 50% of the pot and the lowest qualifying hand wins 50% of the pot.

A Low hand must be high card "8 or better" to qualify. To be eligible to win the Low, the highest card must be a 5, 6, 7, or 8. The winning Low Hand (8 or better) is determined firstly by the player with the lowest High card. Upon a tie with the High card, the hand goes to the player with the next lowest High card. Any hand that is high card 9 or higher can NOT qualify as a Low Hand.

If there is no qualifying Low Hand then the high hand wins 100% of the pot.

Hand Rankings: HIGH Hand rankings are as follows, with the highest hands first:

Hand Ranking Description Example
Royal Flush 5 suited cards in sequence, topped with the ace. For example, a Royal Flush in Spades. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Straight Flush 5 suited cards in sequence. For example, an Eight-high Straight Flush in Diamonds. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Four of a kind 4 cards of the same rank. For example, four Queens. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Full house 3 cards of the same rank, plus 2 cards of the same rank. For example, a full house with 3 aces and 2 fives is a Full House, Aces full of Fives. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Flush 5 cards of the same suit, not all of which are in sequence. For example, a King-high Diamond Flush. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Straight 5 cards in sequence, not all of which are the same suit. For example, a Ten-high Straight. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Three of a kind 3 cards of the same rank. For example, three Queens. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Two pair 2 different occurrences of 2 cards of the same rank. For example, Two Pair -- Jacks and Nines. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
One Pair 2 cards of the same rank. For example, a pair of Queens. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
High Card Cards all of which are different ranks and are not all the same suit. For example, Ace High. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card

If two or more hands are the same ranking, the winner is the one having the higher cards. For example, a Flush with an Ace high beats a Flush with a King high. If the poker hands remain tied, then the highest card not being held in common (the kicker) determines the winner.

Should poker hands be absolutely identical in ranking, the pot will be split evenly between the two or more winning players. If there is an odd chip, then either the winning player to the left of the button will receive it, or the odd chip will remain in the pot for the next hand (depending on the card room).

LOW hand rankings ignore straights and flushes, and treat an Ace as lower than a 2, and most have no card higher than an 8 (within the context of the 5 cards that you choose to use for your LOW hand). So what you are looking for is to have low, non-paired cards, the highest of which is an 8. So, the best LOW hand is an A2345. To evaluate LOW hands, start with the highest card in the hands that you want to compare:

  • If the cards are identical in rank, then move the the next highest-card in the hand.
  • Once you find cards that do not match in rank, the hand with the lower card has the better LOW hand.

Example: Compare A2568 to A2368.

  • Comparing the highest-ranked cards, we find that 8s are equal in rank.
  • Comparing the next highest-ranked cards, we find that 6s are equal in rank.
  • Comparing the next highest-ranked cards, we find that 3 is lower than 5, so A2368 beats an A2568 for LOW.

The Play of the Game: The play of the game proceeds as follows:

  1. Each player is dealt two cards face-down (pocket cards)
  2. First betting round
  3. Dealer turns over three community boardcards (the flop) face-up
  4. Second betting round
  5. Dealer turns over 1 more community boardcard (the turn)
  6. Third betting round
  7. Dealer turns over 1 final community boardcard (the river)
  8. Final betting round
  9. Showdown

At the showdown players MUST use exactly two of their pocket cards and three boardcards. Key point: Players can use any two of their pocket cards with any three board cards for their high hand, and players can also use any two of their pocket cards with any three board cards for their low hand. Thus, it is possible to win both high hand and low hand!

Betting Structure and Rules

There are four possible betting rounds, shown in the list above.

Each bet and raise during the first two rounds is set at the lower limit of the stakes structure. For example in a $5/$10 game, all bets and raises are $5 for the first two rounds (after pocket cards are dealt and after the flop).

Betting and raising during the last two rounds is set at the higher limit of the stakes structure. Same example; all bets and raises are $10 for the last two rounds (after the turn and after the river), following accepted poker rules.

The maximum allowable number of bets per player during any betting round is (usually) four. This includes a (1) bet, (2) raise, (3) re-raise, and (4) cap. The term cap is used to describe the 3rd raise in a round since betting is then capped and can't be raised further. Once capped, players will have only the option of calling or folding. Note that there is no cap to the number of raises in No Limit and Pot Limit games.

Check-raising is (usually) allowed.

Button and Blinds

A flat disk is used at the table. This is called the dealer button to indicate the theoretical dealer of each hand.

After each hand has completed, the button moves clockwise to the next active player. This player will be considered to be playing "the button" for that hand. The player to the left of the button is first to receive a card and is required to post a small blind. The small blind is equal to half the lower limit bet rounded down to the nearest dollar. The player to the left of the small blind is required to post the big blind, equal to the lower limit bet. 

Both blinds are considered live bets and therefore, according to poker rules, have the option of checking, calling, raising or folding when the betting action returns to their position. After the flop and each subsequent betting round, the first active player left of the button is first to act.

When a player first sits at an active table they'll be required to post the equivalent of the big blind. All players have the option of sitting out and waiting for the actual big blind before starting to play. By preventing players from constantly entering poker games in late position and leaving before they're required to post, these rules stop potential abuse.

Position: Position is an important consideration in this game, and refers to your position at the table relative to the big blind. In a ten-handed game, when the big blind is one, two, or three players to your right, you are in early position; when the big blind is four, five, or six players to your right, you are in middle position; when the big blind is seven or eight players to your right (which, by the way, means that you are on the button), you are in late position.

Strategy

  • Only play at stakes that you are comfortable playing.
  • Playing at the free sites like Yahoo Games and MSN Games will not help you learn to master this game; players at those sites are just pushing chips around, and stay to the end on every hand because they have nothing invested in the game.

Read, read, read! Then practice, practice, practice! Then, win, win win! :)

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