Getting Started with Omaha Hi Lo Poker
At the start of a game of Omaha Hi Lo, the dealer is selected by dealing one card face up to each player. The player with the highest value card becomes the dealer and has what is known as the “button”. The player to the left of the dealer pays a Small Blind to be dealt into the game, with the player to his or her left paying a Big Blind.
The blinds ensure that there is always some money in the pot to be played for and, in online Omaha Hi Lo poker, their values are indicated in the ring game lobby – for example, in a game of $1.00/$2.00 Omaha Hi Lo Poker, the player paying the Small Blind pays $1.00, whereas the player paying the Big Blind pays $2.00 (In tournament Omaha Hi Lo poker, the blinds increase in size at pre-determined intervals).
The dealer then deals four cards face down to each player in the hand (which only the individual player can see) starting with the player who paid the Small Blind. The first round of betting then commences.
The Pre-Flop Action
Starting with the player to the left of the Big Blind, each player has the option of “calling” the Big Blind (i.e. in a game of $1.00/$2.00 Omaha Hi Lo paying $2.00 to stay in the game), folding their cards or raising the pot.
The size of the raise will be determined by the format of Omaha Hi Lo poker being played (more about this below) and once the first player has made their betting decision, the action moves onto the next player in a clockwise direction who has the same options to call, fold or raise.
The first round of betting – the pre-flop action – is concluded when each player has completed their betting action, any raises have been called and cards which have been folded are returned to the deck.
The Post-Flop Action
The flop consists of three cards dealt face up in the centre of the table after which a second round of betting commences. This time, the first player to act is the one who paid the small blind, and he or she has the option to “check” their hand (effectively pass on their option to bet) or raise the pot.
If they or a later player decide to raise, the following players have the options of calling, raising or folding as before. If no player raises the pot by betting, every player could check their hands during this round of betting.
Two further rounds of betting take place following the single Turn card being dealt and the single River card (both face up in the centre of the table). The benefit of being the dealer in a hand of Omaha Hi Lo poker is that the dealer will always be the last player to act in each of the last three rounds of betting and will be able to base their betting decisions with the knowledge of what has occurred before their turn.
Unfortunately for the dealer, the button is passed clockwise after the hand has concluded, and the player who was first to act in the previous hand (the Small Blind) now gets the advantage.
Different Betting Formats in Omaha Hi Lo Poker
There are three different betting formats in Omaha Hi Lo poker which will determine the amount that a pot can be raised by in either the pre-flop or post-flop betting action.
In Fixed Limit Omaha Hi Lo, the amount of a raise during the pre-flop action and immediately after the flop is fixed to the size of the small blind. After the Turn and River, the fixed bet size is the same as the Big Blind. Up to four raises can be made during a round of betting, after which a cap is reached and the next card is dealt (or, if the cap is reached after the River card, the hands are revealed).
In Pot Limit Omaha Hi Lo, the minimum raise is always the size of the Big Blind, but players can bet any amount up to the value of the pot. Any subsequent raises must be at least the size of the previous raise – for example, in a $1.00/$2.00 game of Pot Limit Omaha Hi Lo, Player A acts first and bets $5.00 into a pot containing $10.00. Player B´s minimum raise has to be another $5.00 up to $10.00 and not the size of the Big Blind (up to $7.00).
The same betting format applies in No limit Omaha Hi Lo poker, however – as the name suggests – there is no upper limit to the amount a pot can be raised by in any round of betting. Some online poker sites also offer the option of Mixed Omaha Hi Lo poker, in which Fixed Limit Omaha Hi Lo poker is played for a fixed time limit (or one circuit of the button) and then the game changes to Pot limit Omaha Hi Lo poker.