There is no game where an incredibly conservative and tight player can consistently make more money than in Omaha Hi-Lo. That doesn’t mean there is only one strategy to a winning Omaha Hi-Lo strategy, in fact there is no game where more players seem to argue about the best strategy. The top ten pros in the world at Omaha Hi-Lo all have different strategies to help them win. This is part of the beauty, but also the scariness, of Omaha Hi-Lo: no game provides more action and no game requires such extensive use of math and odds.
Omaha Hi-Lo strategy is hard to explicate, because entire books can be written on just individual strategies such as ‘A-2,’ ‘The Wheel,’ or ‘Double Suited.’ As a general rule for beginners: think conservative, and by conservative, tight as a rock. A great conservative Omaha Hi Lo player will play less hands than a great conservative Texas Hold Em player. In Hold Em you have to play more than just A-A, K-K, or Q-Q, but in Omaha, the play of so many cards and the possibility of ‘getting lucky,’ means no matter how conservative you are, players will still give you tons of action when you go in with the top hands, such as A-A-2-3, aces suited, or A-2-Q-K, also two suited.
The reason for the action is that the pot is split. The best five card low hand captures half the pot, while the best high hand captures half the pot. A low hand is any five cards of 8 high or less. If there is no low hand available, then the high hand takes it all, like a regular Omaha game. Because of this, you will see every range of hands playing to the river hoping they’re good enough. The best hand is A-2-3-4, which will grab at least part of the pot over 40% of the time. The next best hands are debatable, but A-A-2-3 and A-2-Q-K are both up there. Having the ace suited is critical, and having your cards two suited is ideal, so you can go for the low or the high, with two flush draws.
Almost any pro will tell you to at least see the flop if you have A-2 in your hand. A-2 (like A-K in Texas Hold Em) is also one of the most overrated hands in Omaha. It’s not because it’s not a strong hand, but it’s because A-2-J-Q suited is much stronger than A-2-7-9 rainbow. Here’s an example:
|Hand One:||Hand Two:|
|:ac: :2d: :jd: :qc:||:ah: :2s: :7c: :9d:|
Just looking at these hands, hand one has a shot at the high club flush, and a solid, though not great, diamond flush. They also have two parts of two different straights, as well as the all important A-2 for the low. Hand two has no chance at a flush (and is therefore almost a certainty to be beat if one appears on the board) it has only a loose chance at a high flush. Hand one can easily win a high or low, but hand two needs an unusual break to compete for the high.
|:3c: :kh: :td:|
For the second hand, this is a terrible flop. You need runner runner for a chance at a low, and you really don’t want to see an ace or a two. There is virtually no shot at the high. For hand one, although it was a rainbow flop, any diamond or club on the turn opens up a ton of outs, but not only do they have the best shot at any long shot low hand, but now any J, Q, or A makes a straight (remember, you can only use two cards from your hand). This is why the first hand should keep betting hard, but that second hand should throw away immediately.
This article scratches the surface of good Omaha Hi-Lo strategy, and will help you on the way to becoming a shark at a game that never lacks for fish.