How to Play Omaha Hi-Low Split 8 or Better

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A very popular variation of professional poker is the high/low split-pot game called “Omaha Hi-Low Split 8 or Better” or simply “Omaha 8.” This version has the highest hand and the lowest hand divide the pot equally, with the very lowest hand being the unsuited 6-4-3-2-A. It often leads to extremely large pots.

To win the low portion of the pot, a hand must “qualify” by containing no card higher than an eight. Most versions of the game allow a single player to win both the high and low hands, by using two different winning combinations of cards or by having the highest hand when no hand qualifies for the low.

Like most poker games, Omaha 8 is played with a standard 52-card deck. Four “hole” cards are dealt face down to each player, plus there will be five “community cards” dealt face up that are shared. This limits participation to no more than eleven players at a single table, although typically no more than ten are allowed to play at once. The object is to form the highest or lowest five-card poker hand to win a share of the pot.

To begin the game, one player is designated as the dealer and a marker called “the button” is set in front of him or her. The player seated immediately to the dealer’s left must post a forced bet called the “small blind.” The player two seats to the left of the dealer is required to bet twice this amount—the so-called “big blind.” All other players receive their cards for free; there is no ante.

For Omaha 8 played with betting limits, the amount of the blinds is related to the minimum bet required. For example, in a €2/€4 Limit game, the small blind would be €1 and the big blind would be €2. On the other hand, Pot Limit and No Limit games are referred to by the size of their blind, i.e., a €1/€2 Omaha Hi/Lo game would have a small blind of €1 and a big blind of €2).

After the blinds have been posted, each player receives the four hole cards. A betting interval is conducted before any other cards are dealt, and the betting action begins with the player immediately to the big blind’s left, a position referred to as “under the gun.” This player has the option to “call” by wagering an amount equal to the big blind, to “raise” by wagering at least twice as much as the big blind, or to “fold” and give up the hand. Subsequent players have the same choices, in turn, clockwise around the table, with re-raises permitted.

Once the “pot is right,” the five community cards are dealt face up with betting intervals in between, just as they are in Texas Hold’em. The dealer reveals the first three community cards, the so-called “Flop,” by placing them face up in the middle of the table—an area referred to as the “Board.” Next, a betting round takes place, starting with the first active player to the left of the button.

The first player to take action has the option to “check” (no action taken), “bet” or “open” by making a wager, or else fold. All bets and raises on the flop must be made in increments of the small bet, such as €2 in a €2/€4 Limit game. Once anyone opens the betting, the options available to subsequent players are to call the bet, raise it, or fold. The betting interval continues until all active players’ bets are equalized.

Next comes the “Turn,” when the fourth community card is exposed face up on the Board. Again, there is a betting interval that begins with the first active player immediately clockwise from the button. Bets and raises on the turn are in increments of the big bet, such as €4 in a €2/€4 game.

Lastly comes the “River,” the fifth community card to be revealed face up on the Board. A final round of betting takes place under the same conditions as the Turn, and then the remaining active players show their hands is a Showdown, which occurs whenever there are two or more active players remaining after the final betting round.

The last person to bet or raise must show his or her cards first. If there was no bet on the final round, the player immediately clockwise from the button reveals cards first. The player with the best five-card hand for high wins half the pot, while the player with the best five-card hand for low wins the other half. Straights and flushes do not count against low hands. The same rules for ranking hands are used as in Seven Card Stud Hi-Low.

Note that in all games in the Omaha family, players must use two and only two of their four hole cards in combination with three cards from the Board. Should identical hands occur, the high and low shares of the pot are equally divided between the players with the best hands. If no hand qualifies for low, the best high hand wins the entire pot.

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