Omaha Hi/Lo Rules
Omaha Hi/Lo is another popular poker game which is played in both Limit and Pot Limit versions.
The Omaha Hi/Lo Game
Omaha Hi/Lo Poker uses a "dealer button" to indicate who is the theoretical dealer of each hand. After a hand is completed, the dealer button is moved clockwise to the next active player who will be the dealer for the next hand. This insures each player will have equal opportunities to play in the early, middle and late positions.
The First Round of Omaha Hi/Lo
The two players immediately to the left of the dealer button place blind bets to start the pot. The player to the left of the dealer button posts the "small blind" which is usually half the value of the lower stake limit. The player to the left of the small blind is required to post the "big blind" which is equal to the lower stake limit. All the blinds in Omaha poker are considered live bets and the players who posted may check, call, raise or fold when the betting returns to their position.
Once the blinds have been placed, each player is dealt the down or hole cards. In Omaha Hi/Lo, 4 cards are dealt to each of the players and the first betting round begins. The player to the left of the player who placed the big blind starts the betting for this round. Each player may now place bets at the lower limit of the stakes for the game. So in a $10/$20 Omaha game, each bet would be $10 for the first round. Bets can be placed by playing Bet, Call or Raise. These options are available depending on the action taken by the previous player. Each player always has the option to fold. The first player to act has the option to bet, call or raise while players after him/her have the option of calling or raising. To call is to bet the same amount as the previous player has bet. To raise is to match the previous bet and increase the bet.
Every player in the hand should have the same amounts of money bet as the previous players, including bets, calls and raises. Until all the players have placed equal amounts in the pot, betting will continue. There is a limit of four bets per player in limit games.
After the first round of betting is over, the Flop, or the first three community cards, is dealt. All players in the hand can use the community cards in combination with their two hole cards.
The Second Round of Omaha Hi/Lo
After the Flop, the first active player to the left of the dealer button is first to act. The second betting round also limits the value of bets and raises to the lower limit of the stake structure, same as in the first round. Bets can be placed by playing Bet, Call or Raise. These options are available depending on the action taken by the previous player. Each player always has the option to fold. The first player to act has the option to bet or check. Checking means not making a wager at this point. If other players bet after someone checks, the player who checked will get then get the option to call or raise. Once a player has bet, players after him/her only have the option of calling or raising, but until the first bet any player can check.
After wagering has finished, the fourth community card or the Turn is dealt.
The Third Round of Omaha Hi/Lo
The third betting round starts again with the player left to the button, but bets and raises are now limited to the upper limit of the stake. Bets can be placed by playing Bet, Call or Raise. Combinations of these options are available to the player depending on the action taken by the previous player.
After wagering has finished, the fifth and final community card, called the River, is dealt.
The Fourth Round of Omaha Hi/Lo
The fourth and final round of betting starts again with the player left to the button, and bets and raises are again limited to the upper limit of the stake. Bets can be placed by playing Bet, Call or Raise. Combinations of these options are available to the player depending on the action taken by the previous player.
Some Standard Rules
Each player is allowed a maximum of four bets for each betting round, which includes one bet and three raises. Players must take an action from what is displayed to them on each "street" or betting round to continue play, unless they are all-in. The final raise in a round is called the cap, since betting is then capped and no one can make another raise. Once capped, players may only call or fold. Folding can be done at any stage of the game and removes the player from the game. He/she loses any rights to any pots on the table.
Poker is typically played "table stakes," meaning only the chips in play at the beginning of each hand may be used throughout the hand. Players cannot get additional funds from the cashier during a game, only after play is finished and a new game is ready to start. However, a player cannot be forced to forfeit a hand because they don't have enough chips to call a bet, instead that player will be said to be "All-In." An All-In player is eligible for the portion of the pot to the point of his final wager. Any additional action involving the other players goes in a "side pot", which is unavailable to the player who has already gone All-In. When a player goes All-in, the pot currently at the center of the table which he/she has contributed to, is treated as the main pot and the All-in player has rights over that. After the player goes all-in, all the new bets are placed in a side pot, where only the contributing players have rights. The All-in player does not have any rights over t
he side pot. The side pot is then given to the next winning combination.
The Showdown decides who wins the pot. Five cards of the total of hole and community cards (two hole cards and 3 community cards) are to be used for deciding on the winning hands.
On the final round of betting, the player who bets first (or checks first if no one else bets) is required to show their cards first at the Showdown. If they have the best hand, the remaining players may/may not show their cards as they wish. The aggressors' hand is only turned over first if he was the last to initiate action on the river.
There is no qualifying on the "High" side and the best hand automatically wins half the pot and could win the whole pot. However, to win the "Low" side you have to qualify. To qualify for the low half of the pot, you need a five-card hand with different numerical values from Ace through eight, with Ace being the lowest. The best "Low" hand is A,2,3,4,5 which is called the "wheel" or "bicycle". The winning "Low" hand is the one with the lowest high card in it. If more than one player qualifies for "Low" and they have the same highest card, the second lowest high would be the winning hand. For example, a 2,3,4,6,8 hand would be a better "Low" hand than an A,2,4,7,8.
In case two or more players "tie" for one side of the pot, they will split that half into equally divided portions. If there is an odd chip(s), it will go to the person(s) closest to the left of the "button". One player winning the "High" side and two players tying for the "Low" side is not uncommon in Omaha Hi/Lo.
Some things to Remember:
- Straights and flushes do NOT count against you on the "Low" side.
- You may use any combination of cards for the "High" hand or the "Low" hand or you may use the same cards for both the "High" and "Low" sides.
- To determine your hand(s) in Omaha Hi/Lo, you MUST play two of your four "down" cards with three of the "up" cards (community cards). You may play different cards for the "High" and "Low" sides.
- The suit order of the cards is not taken into account while deciding on the winning cards. Should poker hands be absolutely identical in ranking, the pot distribution will be split evenly between the two or more winning players. If there is an odd chip, the player with the highest card in their hand is awarded the odd chip.
Pot-Limit Omaha Hi/Lo
The game play remains same for both Limit and Pot-Limit Omaha Hi/Lo game with a few exceptions to the rules mentioned above:
In Limit Omaha Hi/Lo a maximum of four bets is allowed per player during any betting round. This includes a (1) bet, (2) raise, (3) re-raise, and (4) cap, but in Pot-Limit there is no limit to the number of raises that a player can make. The only criteria being that you cannot raise yourself. If all the other players in the hand only call or fold, the player would not get an option to raise, because the last raise was done by him/her.
Minimum eligible raise: The raise amount must be at least as much as the previous bet or raise in the same round.
Maximum eligible raise: The size of the pot. The size of the pot is defined as the total of the active Pot plus all bets on the table plus the amount the active player must first call before raising.