5 Card Omaha high / low Poker guide

Omaha Hi/Lo poker

5 card Omaha High-Low Poker is the core of some of the most exciting online Poker action available, and players must be skilled in order to make both a decent high hand and a qualifying low hand. > Read More

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5 card Omaha Hi-Lo Starting Hands, from strongest to weakest

This article examines different starting hands in 5 card Omaha Hi Low Poker from the strongest to the weakest and whether or not they should be played
As a general rule in Omaha Hi-Lo you should play fewer starting hands than in other forms of poker. This is because it is rare to get a hand which can win both the hi and low ends of the pot. The objective with every hand that you play is to win both the high and the low sides of the pot and to avoid being quartet.

Premium Omaha Starting Hands
• The best starting hands are known as ‘suited babies’, they contain small suited cards and an ace suited with at least one additional card.
• These hands have the best chance of taking both sides of the pot. With the small card you can make a ‘nut low’ hand and the chance of ace + flush gives you a great chance of winning the high side of the pot.
• If you have two cards of each suit the hand becomes even stronger and the strongest is a pair of aces double suited with 2 small cards.

Very Strong Omaha hi-lo Starting Hands
• Small cards are still favored and if they include an ace this also raises possibilities.
• An ace hand with 4 small cards is strong as it has both low and low straight potential.
• If your hand contains an ace-2 and one additional small card then it can be played if the cards ‘backup’ the high, e.g. a king suited with one of the small cards can often be a strong hand.

High Only Hands in 5 card Omaha
• 30% of the time the flop will eliminate the chance of a low hand winning so a high only hand is not necessarily a bad thing.
• You should only play these if it is cheap to see the flop and if you are ready to quickly fold if you do not hit a nut hand.
• If you are going to play a high only hand ideally it will be the strongest possible, A-A-K-K or A-A-J-10 double suited.

Non-Ace Omaha Hands
• Some hands which don’t contain aces are playable.
• Hands such as 2-3-4-5 or 2-3-4-6 give you both low and straight possibilities.
• If the betting is expensive and an ace hasn’t appeared on the table then be careful as you could be beaten for the low.

Marginal Hands
• A hand with A-2 and 2 medium cards is considered marginal
• There is only a small chance of making a high and you could be quartered when making the nut low.
• If the hand has a backup low card such as A-2-4-9 then it is a bit stronger.
• If you have a suited ace this hand may just about be playable.

Read more about Omaha Poker here – And if 5 card Omaha hi-lo is a bit to complex, then try the simpler Texas Hold’em Poker

Building a good low hand in Omaha Hi/Lo

A common mistake in 5 card Omaha Hi/Lo is to neglect the low and only win half the pot, here you can learn how to avoid this and earn double the money.
There are many forms of split-pot poker games but the one that has really taken off is Omaha Hi/Lo. Like every split pot game, the idea is to win both sides of the pot in one hand; however, to do this, players need to understand how the low side of the hand is won.
In Omaha Hi/Lo the low hand is not affected by straights and flushes, this means that the best low hand is 5432A (called the wheel). It is important to remember that a low hand is counted from the highest card down, this means that a player with 7432A would lose to 6432A.
Let’s look at an example to better understand:

  • Player 1 has A2Q8
  • Player 2 has J632
  • The board has JA457
  • Thanks to the flop player 1 has the nut-low (the lowest possible hand)
  • However, the turn produced and Ace which means that every player could have a low.
  • This means that Player 2 has 5432A low, beating player 1 and hence he wins the entire pot.

The trick to winning is to have a good starting hand. Your hand needs to be flexible enough to win the entire pot. Generally, in Omaha Hi/Lo a player who is prepared to wait patiently for a good starting hand will win the most overall.
The strongest starting hand is double suited or similar such as AA23. Be cautious if your hand consists of an Ace and a 3 as you stand to lose a considerable amount if one of your opponent’s makes a nut low. The Ace is undoubtedly the strongest card as it can work in two ways – to construct both a high hand and a low hand.
During the flop be careful about drawing to complete a low hand. If the flop produces something like A5K then it is not a good idea to draw unless you have 23xx. It is possible to win a lot of money from players who draw to a non nut-low hand. It is also not wise to draw for a running low. If you’re hand contains A2xx then you will be hoping to make the nut low. However, if 8KQ appears on the flop then you are reliant upon drawing to finish the hand and only win half the pot. In these circumstances it is always best to fold.