Omaha hi-lo is the variation of Omaha. The key factor in Omaha hi-lo is that the pot is split at showdown between the highest combination and the "lowest" combination.
To qualify for a low combination players must have 5 cards of different ranks with a rank of "8" or below ("eight or better"). Ace can be a card of minimal rank. The best possible low combination is "A-2-3-4-5". Combination must contain exactly 2 of 4 hole cards and 3 of 5 community cards dealt face up.
The game uses a 52-card card deck. 2 to 10 players can take part in Omaha hi-lo.
- Limit – bet as well as raise is agreed in advance. For example, in a $1/2 Limit game, in first two rounds both bet and raise must be equal to $1. In last two rounds bet and raise must be equal to $2.
- Pot Limit – the maximum bet and raise shouldn't exceed the current pot amount. Maximum raise is the size of the
pot, which is defined as the total of the active pot plus all bets on the table plus the double amount the active
player must first call. For example, if the pot amount is $10 and the first player bets $10, the second player
could bet a total of $40:
- $10 is the active pot;
- $10 is the bet sum on table;
- $20 is the double call.
- No Limit – there is no maximum bet limit. Any player makes any bet in any betting round. Minimum bet is equal to big blind.
The game consists of initial bank formation by the blinds, four betting rounds and showdown.
Before a game starts the player on the dealer's left posts a small blind, and the player on the small blind's left posts a big blind bet. Big blind usually doubles the small blind bet.
Each player gets 4 hole cards, cards that the other players cannot see. The player on the big blind's left begins a round of betting. This player can do one of the following:
- Call – match the amount bet in the big blind;
- Raise – increase the bet amount;
- Fold – surrender cards and stake in the game.
Each player can make the same actions when it is their turn to bet.
When the betting returns to the player who made Big Blind, there are several possible ways. If the pot is not raised, then Big Blind has three options: fold, check or raise. However, if any of the opponents raises, Big Blind can call, raise or fold. When all bets get equal, the initial pot is formed and the game moves on to the next round (Flop).
Three cards are dealt face-up on the board in this round. This is known as ‘the flop’. Betting on the flop begins with the player on the dealer's left.
When the betting action is completed for the flop round, the ‘turn’ is dealt face-up on the board. The turn is the fourth community card.
When betting action is completed for the turn round, the ‘river’ is dealt face-up on the board. The river is the fifth and final community card. The final betting round begins.
Pot is a total amount of chips in a hand that the hand winner will receive. The pot is initially formed on pre-flop and consists of players’ blinds and bets. The pot can then increase in the next betting rounds due to the players’ bets.
The main pot is a pot that is claimed by all players who have made equal bets. If side pots are not formed, the main pot is equal to the total pot.
Side pot is a pot formed when one of the players goes all-in, but betting is not over yet, as there are at least 2 players with higher stakes staying in the game. Unlike the main pot, which is claimed by all the players, the side pot is distributed only among the players remaining in the game after their opponent’s all-in.
Player 1: $10 stake
Player 2: $30 stake
Player 3: $100 stake
Pre-flop: all the players bet $5 each, the main pot is $15
Flop: Player 1 goes all-in with $5. Player 2 and Player 3 both called with $5 each. The main pot is $30. All the player claim the main pot.
Turn: Player 2 goes all-in with $20. Player 3 called with $20. The main pot is $30.
Side pot is $40. The side pot is claimed only by Player 2 and Player 3.
When all bets get equal, it is time to show the cards. The last player who bets or raises during the final betting round shows his cards first. If during the last betting round all the remaining players are checking (nobody betting), the first player to the left from dealer shows his cards first. The other players reveal their cards moving clockwise around the table. If player’s current hand is weaker than winning hand shown, he may muck his cards.
Determining the Winner
The player with the highest five-card combination (exactly 2 hole cards plus 3 community cards) for high wins half the pot.
If there are several players with high combination, a winner is determined by the high card of the combination (then, the second high card, etc). If there are several players with equal high combinations, their pot share is split between them evenly.
The player with the lowest five-card combination (exactly 2 hole cards plus 3 community cards) for low wins the other half of the pot. To qualify for a low combination players must have 5 cards of different ranks with a rank of "8" or below ("eight or better"). Ace can be a card of minimal rank. The best possible low combination is "A-2-3-4-5". If there are several players with low combination, a winner is determined by the "high" card of the combination which is the lowest card in this case (then, the second high card, etc). If there are several players with equal low combinations, their pot share is split between them evenly.
The same player can have both the best high and the best low combinations.
The same hole cards may simultaneously be a part of the high and of the low combinations. In the event that no combination qualifies for low, the best high combination wins the whole pot.
In case of a split pot, when the pot cannot be distributed evenly due to odd cents (e.g. $3.01) and needs to be divided between two players, then:
- The first player to win from the pot is the player who acted first in the betting round in which the pot was formed.
- This player receives one extra cent in addition to half the value of the pot without taking into account the extra cent ($1.50 + $0.01 in this example).
- These steps repeat for the rest of the players in clockwise direction.
Rake is a commission that all players pay to a poker room. The rake is a percentage of each distributed pot that exceeds a set amount.
If the players do not reach the flop, no rake is charged.