When most people see poker these days, it's almost always Texas Holdem. This format always praises the highest combinations, like royal flushes. It may be the strongest combination in Holdem, but not in all poker formats. Omaha Hi Low poker is one of them.

Do you know how to play Hi Low poker?

Today we’ll explain this game completely, also known as Hi-Lo in some places. The high hands are still important in these games, but so are the low hands. That will be explained in the next section.

A low hand looks like this in Hi Low games

Hi Low poker games are split pot games, as the name suggests. There is a High hand, plus a Low hand.

High Hands:

High hands are the strongest possible combination. In popular poker games like Texas Holdem and Omaha, a royal flush is the best high hand. They follow the standard ranking system, starting with no pair, then one pair, two pair, and so on, up to the royal flush. Most poker players are familiar with the hierarchy already.

Low Hands:

A low hand is the weakest possible combination. This can be hard for new players to wrap their heads around at first and it feels backward – because it is.

There are several requirements for a low hand:

  • Cards in low hands must be unpaired and ranked 8 or lower. Aces are the lowest, but can also be used for your high hand combination.
  • Making an A-2-3-4-5 straight in Omaha Hi Low isn’t a high hand. The same goes for other straights if all cards are ranked 8 or lower.
  • Making a lower flush in Omaha Hi Low isn’t a high hand either, as long as the cards are ranked 8 or lower.

The lowest possible hand is A-2-3-4-5 in Hi Low games (often called a “wheel”). Next closest is the straight from 2 to 6, then 3 to 7.

The worst low hand in Hi Low games is 8-7-6-5-4.

The most popular Hi Low poker game is Omaha Hi-Lo (PLO 8). Holdem and Pot-Limit Omaha are much more beloved by the poker community, but PLO 8 still gets player traffic.

The main difference between the rules of PLO 8 and classic poker games is the split pot. Half the pot goes to the best high hand, and half goes to the best low hand. However, sometimes none of the players make a low hand. Then the entire pot is awarded to the player with the strongest high hand, just like in regular Omaha.

You can play both formats on PokerBros and other club networks, where they see tons of traffic.

PokerBros Ireland Union: A New Soft Spot for Omaha

In Omaha Hi Low, the rules for dealing, betting, and moving the button are the same as in classic Omaha. The only difference is splitting the pot in two.

This changes the strategy for players. For example, it is profitable to make a "wheel" (A-2-3-4-5), which can win both the high and low halves of the pot.

Beginners often make these mistakes:

  • Playing too many starting hands: Overestimating the strength of their starting hands.
  • Chasing low hands: Entering the hand with starting combinations that can only make a low hand.
  • Playing medium cards: Getting involved with hands like 6-7-8-9, which are hard to make a winning low or high with.
  • Over-aggression with A-2-X-X: Playing too aggressively with hands like A-2-X-X, making other players fold. This results in only 2-3 opponents and a small pot. With this hand, it is better to see a cheap flop and let opponents catch up.

Analyzing starting hands is more complex due to the low component. The best low starters are hands like A-2-X-X, A-3-X-X, A-4-5-X, 2-3-X-X. The strongest high starters are A-A-X-X, A-K-X-X, A-Q-X-X, K-K-X-X, Q-Q-X-X.

The best starting hand is A-A-2-3, where the A-2 and A-3 are different suits. The next strongest is A-A-2-4.

It is also important to play hands like A-K-Q-J, K-Q-J-T, Q-J-T-9, which can make strong high hands. After all, the low half of the pot is not always won, if opponents do not make a qualifying low.

Poker Combinations: Complete List And Guide

In addition to Omaha Hi-Lo, there are other hi low poker games:

  • Lowball: There are no high hands in Lowball. The goal is to make the worst classic poker* hand possible. Aces are high, and straights and flushes count. So the absolute nuts in Lowball is 2-3-4-5-7.
  • 2-7 Single Draw: Similar to Lowball, players are dealt 5 cards each. They can exchange cards once, then must show their hand to the dealer and opponents.

Finding a Hi Low game can be hard in small poker rooms due to lack of players. But at partypoker, Omaha Hi-Lo sees some traffic at low and mid stakes. They also have a decent amount of PLO 8 tournaments every day. Over 24 hours, you might see a couple dozen, with buy-ins ranging from $0.25 up to $150, suiting any bankroll.

Hi Low Omaha in the partypoker lobby

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