Omaha Hi/Lo starts out just like Omaha. The player to the left of the dealer puts in the small blind, and the next leftmost player puts in the big blind. Players are each dealt a “pocket” hand of four cards, called “hole cards.” The action starts at the left of the big blind and goes clockwise, ending at the big blind. Players have a choice to act in one of the following ways: call (match the pot), raise (raise the pot), check (no action if they are already in the pot), or fold (withdraw from the hand).
Just as in Omaha and Texas Hold ‘em, betting rounds proceed in the same manner, the first rotation of betting is followed by the “flop,” which is the deal of the first three of five total community cards. The second betting round is followed by the “turn,” or the fourth card dealt face up on the table, and the third betting round follows the “river,” which deals the final community card. Both the turn and the river are preceded by a “burn” card (a card that is dealt out of the game and discarded). A final betting round follows the river, and then hands are shown or “mucked.” Players can muck their hands if they choose to retreat from the action without showing their hands. Rather than revealing their cards and possibly revealing insight into their playing styles, they fold their hands without showing them.
The only difference between Omaha Poker and Omaha Hi/Lo Poker is the way the winner is determined. Like Omaha, one player will always win the high hand, using exactly two of their pocket cards with exactly three of the community cards. If this is the only qualifying hand, this player will take the pot. However, there is also an opportunity for the lowest ranking hand to win also, which is the “Lo” in Omaha Hi/Lo. The low hand is also made with two of a player’s hole cards and exactly three of the community cards. In the event that there is a qualifying high hand and a qualifying low hand, the pot is split. Sometimes, one player will win both the high hand and the low hand, taking the entire pot.
Keep in mind that if your hand consists of cards with values over 8, it is not possible for your hand to win the low. Alternatively, cards equal to or less than 8 will qualify for a low hand. Cards with values in the mid-range will neither benefit a low or a high hand, unless your best hand combination includes pairs or a flush. Essentially, players must keep in mind the low state and the high state of their hands simultaneously throughout the game, which complicates the general thought process of regular Omaha Poker.
You should also take note that in Omaha Hi/Lo, Aces are valued as both low cards and high cards. As a result, the lowest hand is A/2/3/4/5. This hand is called the “wheel.” When two players have made the same low hand, they split the low pot. This is a “quartered” pot and is not always more profitable than folding.
With so many potentially qualifying winning hands, Omaha Hi/Lo gets pretty serious, and the pots get pretty big. Learning this game is easy… mastering the intense concentration takes practice.