Omaha Hi-Lo, also known as 8 or Better, and O8, is a meld-making comparison game, in the poker family of card games. It is popular a variation in the Omaha group of poker games.
These games have become more popular in recent years due to the relaxed regulations on digital gambling. Although this game can be found on the casino floor, it sees most of its play online.
Omaha Hi-Lo Rules at a Glance
In short, the rules that make this game unique are:
- Players are dealt 4 cards.
- In order to qualify for the Low Pot, a Player must have a 5-card hand that’s completely composed of cards that are less than 8 in rank.
- If the pot is going to be split outside of the 50/50 split allotted to the High hand and Low hand, then the Players splitting that pot will split the pot they qualified for. If there is no low pot, then the whole pot will be split.
- Aces in O8 are both high and low. This means that they can qualify for the low pot as a card that is under 8.
What is the difference between Hi-Lo and PLO?
In PLO (Pot Limit Omaha), Players are unable to pay more into the pot than is already in the pot in any single given bet. In Omaha Hi-Lo, the pot is instead split between the highest and lowest-ranking cards. In order to qualify for the Low hand, all of the cards in the hand must be ranked 8 or lower.
How to Play Omaha Hi-Lo
Omaha Hi-Lo is played using the Standard Anglo-American 52-card deck. Just as in standard Texas Hold’em, up to ten Players may play at the same time
Dealer and Blinds
The game begins with the Dealer button being assigned to a Player chosen by random.
Omaha Hi-Lo utilizes a system to keep money constantly cycling into the pot. This system is known as the Blind system. Blinds are essentially compulsory bets made by two Players, known as the Big and Small blind.
To the immediate left of the Dealer sits the Small Blind and to the immediate left of the Small Blind sits the Big Blind. These positions move around the table in a clockwise fashion, ensuring that every Player pays the Blind at some point.
All Players will have to wager at least the value of the Blind if they wish to participate in the game. Otherwise, they may even further raise it if they so desire, or fold without paying the Blind at all.
Players will each be dealt 4 cards by the Dealer in Omaha Hi-Lo. If they wish to Play with the cards they are dealt, Players must then wager at least to the value of the blinds, or up to the highest outstanding wager made during the Pre-Flop.
Otherwise, Players may fold and surrender their cards, but also any right to the potential winnings in the pot at the end of the game.
- For the Player with the Big Blind button, the wager is compulsory.
- The Small Blind must pay half the value of the Blind, and the remaining half if they wish to Play.
Players are welcome to bet further than the value of the blind, if their starting cards are particularly strong, or if they want to run a low-risk bluff.
Once the blinds have been paid and wagers have been matched, the Flop phase of the game begins. The Dealer will turn over 3 face-up community cards, known as the Flop.
Once these cards are revealed, the betting phases begin again.
As introduced in the Pre-Flop phase, Players have several betting positions that they can induce during the Flop. Players may either Bet, Check, or Fold.
Players that choose to Bet have several possible options. The first Player to make a wager during the flop will “Bet.” This Bet can be whatever amount they want, as Omaha Hi-Lo does not include the pot rules of Omaha PLO.
Call or Raise
After this bet occurs, Players must either match or exceed this bet if they wish to continue playing. This is known as “calling” and “raising” respectively.
- When a Player calls, the highest outstanding bet at the table has not changed.
- When a Player raises, however, each Player must then match that new bet.
For example, Player 1 bets $10, Player 2 raises $5 for a total of $15, and therefore Player 1 must bet a further $5 to play, or they must fold.
Players that do not wish to bet, or fold, may check if there is no outstanding bet at the table. Checking is essentially a bet of $0, passing their turn for the next Player to make their betting decision.
However, Players are not welcome to check if there is an outstanding bet, as Players must match the highest outstanding bet in order to continue to the next stage of the game.
Turn, and River
The next two stages of the game follow the same flowchart. Bets are made and matched, the card is revealed, and the next stage of the game begins.
The key difference between the Flop, and the Turn and River (the other two stages), is that in the Turn and River, only one community card is dealt, instead of three.
After the reveal of the River, the Showdown begins. One final round of betting is undertaken, and then Players reveal the cards in their hands, declaring their 5-card meld.
However, Omaha 8 is different from Texas Hold’em in the Showdown stage.
The pot will be split 50/50 between the High Hand, and the Low Hand.
- The High Hand is, as normal in Poker, the highest value meld.
- The Low hand is, therefore, the lowest value hand at the table so long as all 5 cards are ranked 8 or less.
The hierarchy of melds in Omaha Hi-Lo is the same as that found in Texas Hold’em, or in most other Poker games. It is listed below for ease of use:
|Royal Flush||10♦J♦Q♦ K♦ A♦|
|Straight Flush||3♦ 4♦ 5♦ 6♦ 7♦|
|Four of a Kind||4♦ 4♣ 4♠ 4♥ 5♣|
|Full House||2♦ 2♣ 3♠ 3♣ 3♦|
|Flush||4♦ 5♦ 3♦ 8♦ K♦|
|Straight||7♥ 8♣ 9♠ 10♣ J♥|
|Three of a Kind||3♥ 3♦ 3♣ 8♠ 7♥|
|Two-Pair||2♥ 2♦ 3♠ 3♣ 8♣|
|Pair||2♥ 2♣ 6♣ 8♣ 10♦|
- Royal Flush: A set of cards in ascending or descending order, that are all the same suit. Includes all of the face-cards (J, Q, K)
- Straight Flush: A set of cards in ascending or descending order, that are all the same suit.
- Four-of-a-Kind: A set of cards that are all the same rank, including one wild card.
- Full House: A set of cards that includes both a pair and a three-of-a-kind
- Flush: A set of cards that are all the same suit.
- Straight: A set of cards that are in ascending or descending order.
- Three-of-a-kind: A set of three cards that are the same rank, with two wildcards.
- Two-Pair: A set of two different pairs of cards that are the same rank.
- Pair: A set of two cards that are the same rank.
If a Player cannot form a meld of any kind, they can still win if no other Players have a meld, and they have the highest ranking card in their hand. This is known as the High-Card.
Imagine the following scenario playing a game of Omaha Hi-Lo with 6 people in total.
- Player 1 has 5♠ J♠ 8 ♠ 5♦
- Player 2 has 9♦ Q♠ J♦ Q♥
- Player 3 has 10♣ J♥ Q♣ 7♣
- Player 4 has 6♥ A♣ 2♠ K♥
- Player 5 has 5♣ 8♥ 6♥ 10♠
- Player 6 has 4♥ 5♥ 2♣ K♠
The community cards are: 8♣ 3♦ 9♣ 10♦ A♦
This means that there is the possibility of one player receiving the Low pot, as 3 of the community cards are 8 or lower (8♣ 3♦ A♦).
Because of this, at the Showdown, the winner of the high hand would be Player 4, with a pair of Aces. However, the pot will be split, with the winner of the low hand being Player 6, with the 2 4 low card.
Players 4 and 6 are paid an equal amount of the pot.
You can learn more about advanced strategy here.
How many cards are dealt?
In Omaha Hilo there are 4 cards dealt to each Player at the start of the game, and then five cards are dealt as community cards in packets of 3 cards, then 1 card, and 1 card, known as the Flop, Turn, and River.
What is the best hand to start with in Omaha Hi-Lo?
The best starting hand in Omaha Hi-Lo is one that has both a high and low potential like A-2-3-4 double-suited. This gives you the chance to make both a high and a low hand, so your chances of winning are increased.
Another strong hand that a Player can have is the King-Ace-2-3. This hand is strong because it also gives Players good options for winning either the high or low pots.
The King-Ace can be used to form a Royal Straight that can win the high pot, while the Ace-King-2-3 can form 4 cards of a junk hand with a fifth unrelated card, as straights do not “wrap around” in this game.
What qualifies as a low hand in Omaha Hi-Lo Poker?
In Omaha Hi-Lo Poker, Players may only be considered eligible for the low hand if their entire 5-card meld is ranked 8 or below.
This means at least 3 of the community cards must be ranked 8 or below. Aces can be high, or low, and as such can constitute a low hand.