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Omaha Hi-Lo

No wonder Omaha Hi-Lo is also known as Omaha Holdem in American casinos. After all, it is kind of like a modified and more complicated version of Texas Holdem.

Being a community card game, there are but a few differences between Omaha and Texas Holdem, differences which I’ll get into in detail in the proceedings.

The whole dealer, small blind and big blind issue is similar to that seen in Texas Holdem, there are, however, a few significant differences, differences which make Omaha Hi-Lo an altogether different cardgame.

After the hole cards are dealt (there are four of these in Omaha) and the blinds are posted, the first betting round begins. After the first betting round, the dealer shows the flop (the three community cards placed on the board for everyone to see) the flop is followed by another betting round after which the turn is shown (another round of betting) and then the river. The final round of betting is followed by the showdown which decides the winner of the pot.

These are the similarities between Omaha Hi-Lo and Texas Holdem, now for a look at the differences:
- each player gets four pocket cards instead of the two they get in TH.

The rules of the game state, that the poker hands the players decide to show at the Showdown will necessarily include two of these four hole cards and exactly three of the community cards. They won’t have the option to use only one hole card and four community cards as it happens in Texas Holdem. This will make creating a straight or a flush a lot more difficult, but it’ll complicate matters for all other winning hands as well.

Let’s see a small example here: if the board contains two pairs, no player will be able to make a full house adding only one card. Considering : 2S, 2D, 8H, 8S, AC on the board and 8D, KD, QS, 10C in the pocket will never make a full house.

The best hand the player in question will be able to make is: 8H, 8S, 8D, AC, KD using exactly two ( 8D, KD) from his pocket and exactly three ( 8H, 8S, AC) from the board.
Likewise, getting same ranked cards in the pocket is pretty much the equivalent of a disaster. The worst possible hand in this game is to get a deuce four of a kind in the pocket.

While in TH, getting a pair of twos in the pocket ain’t the best possible hand but still posesses some potential, in Omaha Hi-Lo, getting four deuces kills every chance.
Since the player can use only and exactly two of his pocket cards a pair of deuces goes out the window from the get-go. This will elliminate any chance that a deuce show up on the board, and since the player will be stuck with a pair, everybody who has any one card that matches one from the board will beat his deuces for sure.

- The other interesting difference between Omaha and texas Holdem is the fact, that in Omaha Hi-Lo not only the best possible 5-card poker hand wins. As a matter of fact securing a best possible high-card combo will only take you half the way, that is, half the pot, because the other half will go to the person who shows down the Lowest hand. I know you don’t fancy sharing the pot like that, so you’ll have to show both the highest and the lowest hands to secure the bounty all to yourself. Easier said than done...

In order to be able to tell which hands are considered low and which high, you need to remember this: all cards over 8 do not qualify to make a low hand. 8s and cards under 8 do.

The problem with this is, that when there are 4-5 low cards on the board, reading the low hands will become extremely difficult.

This is exactly why I said this game was more complicated than Texas Holdem. A player not only has to keep an eye on the high end of his deal but also on the low one. It’s like playing Texas Holdem AND another cardgame in the same time.

The cards one will want to avoid in Omaha Hi-Lo are mid-ranked cards (cards close to 8) This is because they won’t make a good high-combo, neither will they make a good low hand. With cards like these one can easily get middled and busted on both ends of the split.

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