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Master the Omaha Hi-Lo Rules

Do you usually play Texas Hold'em and are looking for something different to play? Perhaps you love grinding Pot-Limit Omaha online at PartyPoker but fancy trying a new poker variant. If you answered yes to either of those statements, you should look into playing Omaha Hi-Lo.

What is Omaha Hi-Lo?

Omaha Hi-Lo is a popular poker variant similar to traditional Omaha poker but with one striking difference: it is a split-pot game. The best five-card poker hand wins the pot in a traditional Omaha game, Omaha Hi-Lo gives you two ways to win the pot. You can either have the best five-card poker hand, or the worst! If you make the best hand, and an opponent makes the worst hand, the pot is split equally, hence Omaha Hi-Lo being a split-pot game.

The game's full name is Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better. You will sometimes hear players call the game Omaha Hi-Lo, Omaha 8, or O8. Depending on the betting structure, more on that soon, players way refer to the game as PLO8 or FL08, or even NL08.

Like in "normal" Omaha poker, you must use exactly two of your four hole card to make a hand.

What are the hand rankings in Omaha Hi-Lo?

There are two sets of hand rankings to know about if you play Omaha Hi-Lo. The first s the traditional best five-card poker rankings used by Hold'em, Omaha poker, Stud, and others. These rankings start with high card then progress to one pair, two pair, three-of-a-kind, straight, flush, full house, straight flush, and finally a royal flush.

The other rankings are for the low part of the game, stemming from the split-pot format. For a hand to qualify for the low half of the pot, your hand must consist of five unpaired cards ranked eight or lower, hence the "8" in the Omaha 8 name. Unlike in other games, making a straight or a flush does not penalize you when making the low hand.

The best possible low hand in Omaha Hi-Lo is 5-4-3-2-A, as aces can be considered low. This hand is known as a wheel. Ironically, a wheel can also win you the high half of the pot too if nobody has a high hand that beats it.

The second best low hand would be 6-4-3-2-A, with the worst low hand being 8-7-6-5-4.

What are the betting structures for Omaha Hi-Lo?

Omaha Hi-Lo can be played with a fixed-limit betting structure (FLO8), pot-limit (PLO8), or in rarer cases no-limit (NLO8). Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo is the most common game found online at PartyPoker; you can play PLO8 cash games and multi-table tournaments at PartyPoker.

Fixed limit games limit the amount you can bet based on the current blinds. No-limit games allow you to bet any amount you wish, limited only to the size of your stack. Pot-limit games are slightly more complicated. Although the PartyPoker software automatically calculates the maximum bet size, knowing how it arrives at that figure is worthwhile.

Pot-limit games limit the size of the maximum bet based on the pot's size, hence the name. If there is $10 in the pot, the most you can bet is $10. That is nice and easy, but what if there is $10 in the pot, you bet the maximum $10, and an opponent wants to raise. How much can they raise to?

In this example, your opponent must take the size of the pot before any bet ($10), plus your bet ($10), plus the amount to call ($10), which gives you $30. Your opponent can bet a maximum of $40, which is the $10 to call your bet plus the $30 maximum raise. It sounds complicated but, as we said, the PartyPoker software take care of this for you. Click the "Pot" button and you'll bet the maximum.

What are the main differences between Omaha Hi-Lo and Omaha poker?

Omaha poker and Omaha Hi-Low are almost identical apart from the split-pot element of Omaha Hi-Lo. In both games, you are dealt four hole cards, and must use exactly two of those hole cards to make your five-card hand.

Omaha Hi-Lo allows you to win part of the pot by having the best low hand. A qualifying low hand is a five-card hand that is unpaired and has no card higher than an eight. The best way to visualize your low hand is to think of them in terms of numbers. For example, the best low hand is 5-4-3-2-A (54321) which beats 6-5-3-2-A (65321). A hand of 7-6-5-2-A (76521) loses to 7-5-4-3-2 (75432). Do you see the pattern there?

It is possible to win both halves of the pot, known as "scooping." For example, you may make a flush to win the high hand, and a seven-low to make the low hand. This makes a wheel incredibly strong, that is 5-4-3-2-A. You are guaranteed to win the low hand and have a significant chance of winning the high hand. Make that a "steel wheel," which is a straight flush ace-to-five, and you are nailed on to win both halves of the pot.

Can I play Omaha Hi-Low at PartyPoker? Does PartyPoker Offer PLO8?

Omaha Hi-Lo is available online at PartyPoker. We offer six-handed Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo (PLO8) cash games in addition to PLO8 multi-table tournaments. Indeed, some of our excellent Daily Legends tournaments are PLO8.

On occasion, usually during our major tournament festivals, we run NLO8 events.

What are the best Omaha Hi-Low tips for beginners?

Omaha Hi-Lo is a hugely complex game due to the sheer number of variables in any given hand. There are 270,725 possible starting hands in any Omaha game, giving you a massive choice over what hole cards to play. However, solid starting hand selection is important because playing too many hands is dangerous for your bankroll.

In PLO, most experts suggest playing high cards that work together. For example, Ac-As-Kc-Ks is a powerhouse hand because you already have a pair of aces, and you hand could improve to a set of aces or kings, or nut flushes. Similarly, a hand like Jd-Td-9s-8s is very playable due its connectedness and ability to improve to strong hands after the flop.

PLO8 is different because you must consider the low hand, too. While Ks-Kc-Qd-Jd is a playable hand, you must be aware that such hole cards make it impossible to contest the low part of the pot. The low hand element makes hands with aces, particularly A-2-X-X hands powerful. A starting hand of Ad-Ac-Kc-2d is strong, although the best PLO8 starting hand is A-A-3-2 double suited.