30 Aug

Poker Rules: Omaha Hi-Low 8 or Better

Beginner’s Guide: How to Play Omaha 8 (Hi-Low)

How to Play Omaha 8 Hi-Low The WheelOmaha Hi-Low, (aka Omaha 8 or Better, or simply Omaha 8), is a unique Hold’em variant in which players take part in two hands at once. The game follows all the basic rules of Omaha Hold’em, wherein players compete to develop the highest ranking poker hand using exactly 2 (of 4) hole cards, and 3 (of 5) community cards. However, once that’s decided, players then attempt to create a winning low hand; again using 2 hole cards and 3 community cards.

If you’re already familiar with the standard, High version of Omaha Poker, you’ll have no problem picking up on the rules of Omaha 8 or Better. If not, we suggest learning the rules of that game first, then returning here to continue. The following link will open in a new browser, for your convenience.

How to Play Omaha Hi-Low 8 or Better

Omaha 8 is generally recommended for more advanced poker players, simply because it requires the calculation of two hands at the same time. One is the traditional High hand, which—if you took our advice above—you should already know how to play.

If everyone folds before reaching a showdown, the remaining player will win the entire pot. There will be no evaluation of Low hands. Otherwise…

At the showdown, the winner of the High hand will collect half of the pot. If the pot cannot be evenly split, the extra chip goes to the High hand winner, as well.

Next comes evaluation of Low hands. If no player actively remaining in the game (players who have not folded) has a qualifying low hand, the winner of the High hand will collect the whole pot.

Qualifying Low Hand

Omaha Hi-Low is known as ‘8 or Better’ because the low hand must contain 5 cards with a value of 8 or better. Since this is a Low game, better means lower. Therefore, the only eligible cards are:

A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Clearly, not every player is going to have a qualifying Low hand. If you are unable to put together a qualifying 5-card hand you will not be eligible to compete for the second half of the pot. Like the High hand, the Low hand must be made up of exactly 2 hole cards and 3 community cards, but they do not have to be the same 2+3 cards used in the High hand.

Straights & Flushes Don’t Count

This is very important. When developing a Low hand, Straights and Flushes will not count against you. A 5-card hand in sequence, such as 3-4-5-6-7, is nothing more than a qualifying 7-High hand, even if it’s all spades, all hearts, etc.

Hand ranks that will count against you, however, are pairs, sets, and quads. If you’re holding 2-2-4-5-7, that’s a Pair of 2s. A Pair of 2s is stronger than the highest (worst) possible qualifying hand of 4-5-6-7-8 (8-High), and will not qualify for a Low hand.

“The Wheel”

The Wheel is a very special hand in Omaha Hi-Low; often considered the best hand one can possibly receive. It consists of:

A-2-3-4-5

Not only is this the lowest possible hand for the Low side of the pot, it’s also a strong Straight for the High side. It won’t guarantee you a win on the High hand (unless it happens to be all same-suit, Straight Flush—that’s pretty hard to beat!), but it will guarantee a win on the Low hand, or at least a tie for the win.

Determining the Winner

The winner of the Low hand will be the player with the lowest qualifying hand. First, the highest card is compared. If that ties, the next highest card is compared (similar to a Kicker, but in reverse, low instead of high). If Player 1 holds 8-7-6-5-4, and Player 2 holds 8-7-6-5-3, Player 2 wins because his 3 is lower than his opponent’s 4.

If two or more players have an exact tie for the Low hand in Omaha 8, rules designate that those players will split the Low half of the pot. The same goes for ties on the High hand, of course.

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