Omaha High-Low (Omaha8)

// Published by Luke

Omaha High-Low (Omaha8) like Holdem, is a flop game where the players combine their own private hole cards and a shared (or community) board to try and form the best possible poker hands.

Sit down at an omaha high-low table and you will immediately notice some important differences from Holdem:

  • You get four hole cards rather than two
  • You must make your hands by using exactly two of your hole cards and exactly three cards from the board
  • There are many split pots. It is not unusual to see two or three players with a winning hand. Sometimes five or six people all claim a share of the pot

    Omaha High-Low

Four Hole Cards

You receive four hole cards instead of two and must use two of them to form your hand. Let’s call your four hole cards A, B, C and D. There are six ways you can do this:

AB BC CD
AC BD
AD

At low levels, a typical game of omaha8 has five or more people seeing every flop. With so many possible combinations of cards in play it is very likely that somebody will have hit the flop really hard. Winning hands in these games are nut hands much more frequently than an equivalent Holdem game.

Omaha High-low means Two from your Hand and Three from the Board

You must always combine two of your four hole cards with three cards from the board. You can’t “play the board” as you can in holdem. If the board finishes Ts Td Th Tc 3c then nobody has quads. The best possible hand here is a full house.

Similarly, you can’t make a flush unless you have two cards of the same suit amongst your hole cards.

There cannot be a valid low hand unless the board contains three cards of different ranks less than 9.

The Best Low Hand in Omaha high-Low 8 or better

Finding the best low hand in omaha8 often causes newbies a few anxious moments, but by following a few simple rules it soon becomes automatic

  • A valid low hand consists of five cards, all of different ranks and none of which is larger than an eight
  • An ace counts low, ie an ace is the smallest card with a value of one
  • Flushes and straights do not count when calculating low hands. If you have A-2-3-4-5 (often referred to as a wheel) the fact that it is also a straight (and thus a respectable high hand) is not relevant when deciding who has the best low
  • When you are comparing two low hands, the losing hand is the one that contains the highest UNIQUE card
8 4 3 2 A loses to 7 4 3 2 A
As the 8 in the first hand is the higher than the 7 in the second hand.
8 7 3 2 A loses to 8 6 3 2 A
Both hands have an 8 so we ignore this card and look at the next highest cards from both hands. Because the 7 in the first hand is the higher than the 6 in the second hand the first hand loses.
8 5 4 2 A loses to 7 5 4 3 A
As the 8 in the first hand is the higher than the 7 in the second hand. The fact that the 2 in the first hand is smaller than the 3 in the second hand is not relevant. The highest unique card in the two sets of holdings is the 8.