How to Play Omaha Hi Lo Poker Basics

Getting to Grips with Omaha Hi Lo Poker

In the most common format of Omaha Hi Lo poker, players are dealt four cards face down. These are known as “hole cards” or “private cards” and the object of the game is to create a winning hand using just two of the four “hole cards” with three of the five community (or “open”) cards dealt during the flop, turn and river.

The money which is paid into the pot is divided between the player with the best Hi hand (where a straight flush beats four of a kind beats a Full House etc) and the best Lo hand (where a player creates a five-card hand with the lowest value cards). Aces count as both Hi and Lo, and if there is no qualifying Lo hand (see below for an explanation of a qualifying Lo hand), the player with the best Hi hand scoops both pots.

Please see our pages on “Dealing and Betting” and “The Flop, the Turn and the River” to see how the game progresses once the hole cards have been dealt.

What Qualifies as a Lo Hand in Omaha Hi Lo Poker

Most card players will understand the concept of the best Hi hand winning, but there can often be some confusion about what qualifies as a Lo hand in Omaha Hi Lo poker. Straights and Flushes are ignored when considering the best Lo hands, so A 2 3 4 5 (or any Ace-Five suit combination) would be an unbeatable Lo hand.

If two players (or more) have Ace-Five combinations, the Lo pot is shared between them, and if two hands contain the same highest Lo card, the next highest Lo card will determine who wins the Lo pot – for example A 3♠ 4 5 7♣ beats A♠ 3 4♣ 6♠ 7 and A♣ 2 3 6 7♣ beats A 2♠ 4 6♠ 7.

The best Lo hand can also scoop the Hi pot if, for example, a player makes an Ace-Five straight and there is no better Hi hand among the players competing for the Hi pot.

There May Not Always be a Qualifying Lo Hand

In order to qualify as a Lo hand, the five cards in the hand must be of distinct values with no card higher than an Eight. Therefore, if the community cards fail to produce three cards with a value of Eight or under, it will be impossible for any player to make a Lo hand.

It may also be the case that players in a hand may not have been dealt two cards with a value of Eight or lower; in which case it will be impossible to create a winning Lo hand irrespective of what is dealt on the flop, turn and river.

Using Different Hole Cards to Win Both Pots

The best cards to be dealt are those in which players have the opportunity to win both the Hi and the Lo pots (see our page on Omaha Hi Lo Starting Hands), and each may require a different combination of the hole cards to be used. For example:-

Player A´s Hand: A 2♣ Q Q

Player B´s Hand: 5♠ 6♠ 10 10

Community Cards: 3♠ 7 7♣ / 4 / Q♣

Player A wins the Hi pot using Q Q to make a Full House (Queens over Sevens – better than Player B´s Three-Seven straight) and also wins the Lo pot using A 2♣ for A 2♣ 3♠ 4 7.

Continue reading in our Omaha Hi/Lo Blinds, dealing and betting article here.