* Each player receives four hole cards, instead of two. * One must use *exactly* three community cards and two hole cards to make one's hand.
The second difference is confusing for most beginners. These examples show how it works.
Board Hole Cards Best High Hand ===== ========== ============== As Kc Qc 8d 2d Ac 2c Jd Th Jd Th makes ace-hi straight. As Kc Qc Jh Td Ac 2c Jd 8h Ac Jd makes ace-hi straight. As Kc Qc Jh Td 3c 2c Jd 8h Jd 8h makes pair of jacks. No straight is possible using two hole cards. As Ks 8h 9d 2s Qs 4h 4d 4s Qs 4s makes AKQ42 "nut" flush. As Ks 8s 9s 2s Qs 4h 4d Qd Qs Qd makes pair of queens. No flush is possible using two hole cards. As Ts 8s 8h 4d Td Tc Ad 9c Td Tc makes TTT88 full house. As Ts 8s 8h 4d Td 8c Ad 9c Ad 8c makes 888AA full house. As Ac 8s 8h 4d Ah 2h 3h 5h Ah 5h makes trip aces AAA85. No full house is possible using two hole cards. As Ac 8s 8h 4d Ah 2h 3h 4h Ah 4h makes full house AAA44.
Omaha is often played high/low, meaning that the highest and lowest hands split the pot. The low hand usually must “qualify” by being at least an 8-low (the largest card must be 8 or lower). One can use a different two cards to compete for the high and low portions of the pot, and the game is played “cards speak” rather than “declare”. Aces are either low or high, and straights and flushes don’t count for low. Since everybody must use two hole cards to make a hand, the board must have three cards 8 or lower for a low to even be possible. Players often tie for low, and the low half of the pot is divided equally among them. Some more examples:
Board Hole Cards Best Low Hand ===== ========== ============= As Kc Qc 8d 2d 8c Jc Jd Th Jd Th makes the low hand JT82A, which does not qualify as 8-or-better. 3d 5h 8d Tc Ts Ac 2c Jd Th Ac 2c makes the "nut low" 8532A. 3d 5h 8d Tc Ts Ac 3c 4d Th Ac 4d makes 8543A. 3d 5h 8d Ad Ts Ac 3c 5d 8h Any two make T853A, not qualifying. Ac 2c 3d 4h 5s Ad 2d Th Td Ad 2d makes "nut low" 5432A. Ac 2c 3d 4h 5s 4d 5d Th Td 4d 5d makes "nut low" 5432A. 5h 7h 8d Ac 2c Ad 2d Th Td Ad 2d makes 8752A, but the nut low is 5432A with a 3 and 4. On the flop we had the best possible low, but the turn and river "counterfeited" us.
As in all split-pot games, the real goal of playing any hand is to win both halves of the pot, or “scoop”. Thus, hands that have a chance to win both ways are far superior to those that can only win one way.
Omaha Poker Strategy
In Omaha High-Low the high hand winner must split the pot with the player with the best qualifying low hand. There is always a high hand poker winner but not always a low. For your hand to qualify for low, it must have five denominations no higher than an eight. Two of your your four down cards are played for high and two are played for low. Players must play exactly two out of their hands for each direction. Aces are played both high and low. Straights and flushes do not disqualify a hand for low, so a player ending with 5 4 3 2 A would have an unbeatable low hand and a 5 high straight to play for high. A player with this hand would have a good chance of winning both ways. He or she could also have another high hand better than the straight.
The most important thing to keep in mind in split pot games is the big profit difference between winning half the pot and “scooping” it all. – It is a lot more than just twice as much. .
Scooping the pot usually builds a healthy addition to your stack of chips. Getting half often puts you barely ahead of where you were before you started playing the hand. Expert Omaha Hi Lo players only play starting hands, like those recommended here, that have a good chance of winning both ways. Omaha is a game of “nuts”. With so many players with so many cards, finding so many reasons to play, a final hand with a fairly good high and a fairly good low can easily get clobbered by nut hands both ways. So after the flop or maybe the turn, if it looks like you don’t have an almost certain nut for one end and a decent shot at the other, you should probably fold up and wait for the next hand.