|Omaha High Low Strategy
Your ultimate goal in Omaha high/low is to win the whole pot (to scoop). This is entirely possible. You have four cards in your hand, and you can use any combination of two for the high hand and low hand. You may use two cards for high and two different cards for low, or the same cards for high and for low. You can win the whole pot by having the best high and low hand; however, it is also possible to scoop if you have the best high hand and no low hand is possible.
For instance, suppose you win just the low end of a three handed pot where each player bet a total of $10 each in the pot. The pot totals $30, and you get back $15, for a $5 profit. Had you won the whole pot, you would have won $30, yielding a profit of $20. As can be seen by this example, it is not twice as good to win the whole pot. It is four times better ($5 vs. $20)!
The four cards in your starting hand should be well coordinated. You want cards that can form a straight, flush or full house. Some players think that any four cards can win and that they should see every flop. This is a sure sign of a losing player. Please see Omaha high for experts about the discussion regarding coordinated starting hands.
The best hand to start with is AA23 double-suited. However, it is a rare event to get a hand like this.
Other playable hands that are well-coordinated include: AAxy, KKxy and QQxy. These hands may win the whole pot by hitting a set or a big full house. Other good big hands are AKQJ, KQJT and such. However, beware of hands such as T987, a very good hand in Omaha high. Why is this a bad hand in the hi-lo version of the game? The answer is that this hand does not aim to win the whole pot . Either you draw to straights that are not the nut straights (for example KQJT9) or you draw to straights that will not win the whole pot (if you make a straight like T9876, you have the nut-high, but there are also three baby-cards on the flop making a possible low).
Any A2-combination is usually playable, but only under the right conditions. See below how to play it. Although A3xy looks almost the same as A2xy, it should usually be folded. An exeption is if you have the suited ace and are in late position. With A2xy, you draw to any three cards in the range of 3 to 8. With A3xy, you draw for any three cards between 4 and 8 plus a deuce. This is much more difficult to do than just drawing with an A2.
If you have another wheel-card with your A2 like A23x, A25x, you have a good hand. Even better is to have a hand like A246, preferably suited with the ace (or even double-suited). With these hands, start rammin and jammin the pot preflop!
The Importance of the Ace
For you to play a high hand without an ace in your hand, you will need a very well-coordinated hand like QJT9. Never play a low hand without an ace in the hand. The reason for this is the dual nature of the ace – it is both the boss high card and the boss low card.
A Hidden Secret – The 6
Empire Poker is giving away a secret that one seldom can see in print: the best card to go with your A23x, A24x, or A25x is a six. This is because many times you will end up playing a wheel (A2345) for low with these hands, as will your opponent who has an A2xy as well. However, you will often win three quarters of the pot with the six, giving you a 6-high straight for high (whereas your opponent only has a 5-high straight). Against opponents who don’t know this play, you will get plenty of action in the pot and will wind up with the lions share of the pot.
Playing Before the Flop:
The preflop play in Omaha hi-lo is quite straight-forward: with the hands aiming for high, you raise and re-raise. All these hands play better with less players in the pot, so you raise to narrow the field. All the low-only hands tend to play better against a larger field. With these hands, you are only aiming for half the pot; therefore, you want the pot to be big and have many players in it. So just limp in with these hands. An exception to this is when many players have already called, and you are in late position or in the blinds with A2xy. In this case, feel free to raise. Since players have called a bet already, they will surely call one more bet, so you have the large field and pot you want.
With the premium low-hands (hands that also have some value for high such as A236 double suited), you should play according to your table image. These hands can be played both passivly (calling) or aggressively (raising). If you are in late position with these hands, always raise.
Playing the Flop:
For playing the flop and later streets only for the high hand, see limit Omaha high for experts.
When the flop comes with two high cards, and all you have is A2xy, dump it. One often sees bad players, hoping to catch a low card on the turn, call on the flop so they have a draw on the river. This is called catching runner-runner for low and is a playing strategy that really reveals if you understand the game or not. Seldom are the pots big enough to justify such a play.
Suppose that you have A29J (which is a bad hand, by the way), and the flop is 864. You have the nut low, but do not start to play this hand aggressively! An ace or deuce on the turn or river will counterfeit your hand. This means that the ace or deuce on the board will kill your nut low. Say that the turn and river cards are K and 2, making the board 864-K-2. For high you play a pair of deuces, and for low, you play 8642A. Your nuts are no longer the nuts. For example any player who flopped a straight with 75 now will have a better low than you have (45678 for high and 76542 for low).
This example shows the importance of having another low card with your A2 combination. Even a bad kicker such as a 7 would in this example give you a low hand of 7642A, which is a better low than that of your opponent’s 76542.
Suppose all you have is a low-draw with your A2xy. It is not uncommon that there is another player with the same hand as you in the pot and a third player going for high. What is going to happen is that you will put in 33% of the money in the pot, but you will only get back 25%, since you will split half the pot with the other A2-combination. This is clearly an unprofitable play.
When one reads books about advanced Omaha hi/lo, there are examples of how you can manipulate the betting with check-raises and re-raises to get the other low hand out of the pot. Forget about such fancy plays on the Internet. Empire Poker is the world’s largest poker room and has many unskilled players. Unskilled players will draw to their hands no matter how bad their odds are due to your re-raises. Thus, my advice to you is to learn to identify these situations yourself and get out of the pot.
If the pot is 4-handed (or more), being quartered is not that bad, since you are putting in 25% of the money and getting back 25%.
So this boils down to very simple advice: if there are two or three other players left on the river, do not raise if all you have is the nut low. If there are four or more other players, please feel free to bet or raise.
Playing For Three Quarters:
If getting one quarter of the pot is bad, getting three quarters of the pot is great. The key to success in this play is to keep the pots fairly small until fourth street and then raise and re-raise like there is no tomorrow. By betting aggressively on the turn and the river (check-raise if you can), you hope to get all the high hands to fold. Usually this can only be done when there is already a possible low out there on the turn, so the high hands know that they are only playing for half of the pot. Any shaky holding, like two-pair will now hopefully fold. Your goal is to get heads-up against another low hand. You will be surprised how often the high hand in these combats is only a high pair or even just AK! These wins are nice boosts for your self-esteem and bankroll