Playing Omaha High-Low
In Limit Omaha High-Low the pot is split between the high hand and the low hand, with the players being able to use the same two cards in their hand to make either or both ends of the hand. For example, you hold As-3s-Kd-Kh and the board at the river is 10s-2c-4s-8s-Kc. You have the nut low, A-3 from your hand and the 2-4-8 from the board. And you also have the nut high flush using the same As-3s along with the 10s-4s-8s from the board.
As you can see, the same two cards can work for making both ends of the hand a scooper, unless you have to split the low end with another player who also holds an A-3. When you scoop the pot, it means that you did not have to split or chop the pot with any of the other players in the hand.
Sometimes a one-way hand can make the high and the low end of the hand. An example of this would be the A-2-3-4-5, which is the nut low, and also a straight. And if it were suited it would be not only the nut flush but also a straight flush. A-2-3-5-6 suited is another example of a nut flush hand for the high with another good low hand.
Starting with the blinds, each player is automatically dealt four cards face-down pre-flop (but you will see your cards face-up on your computer screen). The deal is always the same when playing any limit or no-limit Omaha poker game.
You can combine your four cards with the five community cards to make the best five-card high hand and the best five-card low hand. However, unlike Texas Hold'em, with Omaha games you must use two of the four cards in your hand to win any or all of the pot.
Basically, you will want to play hands that include an A-2, A-3, or 2-3 for the low hand, along with a suited Ace for flush potential, or another high card, or a pair.
Even though you have four cards in your hand, you can use the same two cards for both your low hand and your high hand. This cannot be emphasized enough, as many beginning Omaha players have a hard time grasping this concept, along with the fact that they must use two cards from their hand, unlike only having to use one when playing Texas Hold'em.
Many beginners will chase all the way to the river with a one-way hand. Always try to play with four starting cards that give you an opportunity to get a piece of both ends of the pot if you hope to succeed in this game.
An example of this would be if you hold an Ah-2c-4d-Js and on the river the board looks like this: 4h-5h-7h-9d-10h. You have the nut low, but your best high is only a pair of Fours. That's right, a pair of Fours. Look again — you only have one heart in your hand with four hearts on the board. Remember, this isn't Texas Hold'em, and you need two hearts to make a flush when playing any Omaha games.
The Betting Structure
The betting structure is the same in any Limit Omaha game, High Low or High-only, and consists of a fixed bet for each round of betting action. If you play in a $4/$8 limit Omaha High-Low game, the big blind would be $4 and the small blind would be $2. And during the pre-flop betting action and post-flop, the betting action would be limited to multiples of $4 if there were raises. If no one raises, the pot will reflect $4 multiplied by the number of players who called to see the flop.
On the turn and river the betting is in increments of $8. So if someone raises, it costs you $16 to call or $26 if you re-raise.
The blinds are forced bets to ensure that there is money in the pot before the flop and are the same for Omaha High-Low and High-only games. The small blind is usually half the amount of the big blind. In a $4/$8 Limit Omaha High-Low game, this means that the big blind must put a $4 blind in the pot, while the small blind initially puts up a $2 blind.
Seldom raise before the flop, because any Omaha game is dangerous, considering that everyone is holding four cards in their hands. After you see the flop and how it works with the cards in your hand, then make a move by raising or re-raising if you have a hand that can win if it holds up.
If there have been no raises by the time the action gets back around to the blinds, and the big blind checks, then it will only cost the small blind $2 more to see the flop. This is not the case if the small blind raises, which causes the action to go all the way around the table once again, or until the maximum three-raise limit has been made.
Once everyone has had the opportunity to either fold, call, or raise the pre-flop betting action, it's time for the dealer to deal out three community cards in the center of the board, which is known as the flop.
There is often more raising and re-raising before the flop, when everyone thinks they're holding the best four cards. Once the flop is dealt, they may be singing a different song when they see that the board has totally missed their hand.
When playing online poker, you will not see any burning or shuffling of the cards. However, you will hear software-generated sounds that you'll learn to recognize for each action.
Starting with the first person in the hand to the left of the dealer button, the second round of action begins, which can be either a check or a bet. Again the betting action goes around the table, and should anyone raise, then the betting continues around the table until the maximum three raises have been made.
It's often difficult to get the hang of reading the low hands when playing offline. But when playing Limit Omaha High-Low online, you don't have to worry about it because the computer software automatically reads and pays the winning hands.
Keep in mind that Limit Omaha High-Low poker is an action game, not a positional game. So expect a lot of raising and re-raising all the way to the river, because someone's always got something, even if it's a split pot low.
Also called Fourth Street, the turn is the fourth card to be dealt alongside the three community flop cards. A third round of betting then takes place beginning with the first player to the left of the button. Once again every player remaining in the hand still has the opportunity to check, bet, or raise the play that has just preceded him.
Remember, it is your aim in any Omaha High-Low games to scoop as many pots as possible, so be sure the starting hands you choose to play have several ways in which to go before you call the action to see the flop.
It is during the turn play when the betting action doubles. For example, if you are playing in a $4/$8 game, the minimum amount you are allowed to bet is $8.
However, should a player ahead of you raise the action, it will then become $16. And if this action should happen to be re-raised, the bet on the table becomes $24. But if the pot is re-raised a third and final time, then the amount to be called is $32. Of course, you always have the option to fold.
Also known as Fifth Street, the river is the fifth and final card dealt on the board. The betting on this round is also a minimum of $8 with the option of three raises, bringing the total cost to see your opponents' hand to $32, if the hand is raised to the max. However, should all but two players fold on the river, then there can be a showdown, and the amount of re-raises depends on the online or offline site where you are playing. Some will have a cap, or maximum, amount of additional raises, while other card rooms and online sites may allow the re-raising process to go on until one of the two opponents is all in.
Only play hands that are capable of scooping the pot. This means you have a nut low working with your hole cards and the board cards, and at least a set of something with the turn and river cards yet to be dealt.
There is an order to the act of revealing hands after all the betting action on the river is completed. It starts with the first player to the left of the button, and then goes around the table clockwise. When playing in online Omaha High-Low games, the order of the showdown is not an issue. The game software does it for you. However, when playing in offline Omaha High-Low poker games in casinos and card rooms, and when the dealer does not have control of the table, the order of show can get to be a real issue. This is because many seasoned players will call you down in the hope that you are bluffing and that their hand, usually a pair, will beat your hand — so they want to see your cards first, even if you called to see their cards. That is what you paid for, the right to see their cards. The offline player will quickly shoot them into the muck, but the online player has no control over this. The computer software automatically reveals each hand that called the action on the river.
When offline players attempt and fail to fold their cards directly into the muck, or if the dealer takes them and places them on top of the muck and they are easily identifiable, the dealer, after the winner of the hand has been declared, can turn them over to reveal them.
This is an area where the online poker games have a real tell advantage over the offline poker games. Suppose you were heads-up with a player all the way to the river, and your opponent goes all in, and there are still better hands than yours possible, but your hand is pretty good. Deciding to fold, hoping you made the right decision, is always wise unless you are a chip burner (a person who has no respect for money). So you fold and text message your opponent asking what she had. Naturally your opponent will tell you she had the nuts. But how do you know if she's lying? Easy. After an online game is over you can click on “Last Hand” and bring up a window that shows you the result of the last hand and all the active cards that were played during that hand. You can also specify, in that same window, any previous hands, usually up to the last fifty hands dealt during that particular session of poker play, and get a report on the active cards that were played during any of those hands, too.
Is there a particular type of hand that I should always fold?
Fold most hands that include a 7, 8, or 9 because they negatively impact the value of your hand, and if your straight does get there, it will probably be beat by a higher straight.