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How To Play Omaha Hi Lo Poker and Other Omaha Variants

Home » Guides » How To Play Omaha Hi Lo Poker and Other Omaha Variants

How To Play Omaha Hi Lo Poker and Other Omaha Variants

A five of spades, a five of clubs, a nine of spades, and a nice of clubs, arranged on a blue table, featuring two black casino chips, and one blue casino chip.

Texas Hold’em may be the “Cadillac of Poker,” but players who have ventured beyond that Hold’em bubble find that Omaha presents new challenges and opportunities. Omaha may be, then, the “Range Rover of Poker” for its ability to take players off the traditional Hold’em roads and into the world of four-card poker.

Is Omaha a Form of Hold’em?

Technically, yes, Omaha is a form of Hold’em. Omaha Hold’em is its official name, though most people simply refer to it as Omaha Poker. In fact, when poker pro and poker room host Robert Turner first brought the idea for the game to the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas, Poker Room Manager Bill Boyd offered it as Nugget Hold’em. Later, renaming it Omaha Poker broadened its appeal to other card rooms.

Omaha and Texas Hold’em share the basic format of using a mixture of hole cards (hidden cards for each player’s eyes only) and community cards (five cards dealt face-up on the table) to create the best five-card poker hand. The betting rounds for both games are the same as well.

Omaha and Hold’em have several important differences.

  • Each player receives four hole cards in Omaha, as compared to two in Hold’em, to start a hand.
  • Players must use exactly two of their hole cards to create a five-card hand, whereas Hold’em has no such requirement.
  • The most popular betting variant of Omaha is Pot Limit – PLO (Pot Limit Omaha), while Hold’em most often uses No Limit or Limit Hold’em to define betting limits.

How To Play Omaha Hi-Lo Poker

A view from behind a poker player who has two ace cards in his hand

When a player refers to Omaha as a general poker game, they mean Omaha Hi or Omaha High. This uses the traditional Hold’em ranking of the ace having the highest value. The A-K-Q-J-T is the highest-ranking straight. 

There is also another version of Omaha called Omaha Hi-Lo, sometimes also written as Omaha Hi/Lo or Omaha High/Low. This game can also be called Omaha Hi-Lo Split 8-or-Better, Omaha Hi-Lo Split-8, Omaha Hi-Lo Split, Omaha 8-or-Better, Omaha-8, or Omaha/8. All of these names belong to one game, which is played as Limit Omaha.

Since the Hi version of Omaha uses traditional rankings, the Lo part is a qualifying hand of 8-7-6-5-4 or lower. There may not always be a qualifying hand in play, which means there will only be a win for the highest hand. But if there is a low hand, too, half of the pot will go to the player with the hi and the other to the player with the low. This could be the same person.

A few important tips about reading hands in Omaha:

  • By looking at the community cards in Omaha Hi-Lo, one can immediately tell if there is even the possibility of a low hand, as there must be three cards ranked eight or lower on the board. 
  • An ace can be used in both high and low hands. 
  • The best possible low hand is 5-4-3-2-A, followed by 6-4-3-2-A, 6-5-4-3-2, and 7-5-4-3-2, and so on.
  • Straights and flushes do not apply to low hands.
  • The name for the low hand uses its highest card, i.e. the 5-4-3-2-A is the wheel, a 6-5-4-3-2 is a six-low wheel, and a 7-5-4-3-2 is a seven low. 
  • In Limit Omaha, the minimum bet is the same size as the big blind in pre-flop and flop betting rounds, and the big bet is double that amount after the turn and river. Raises may be capped at four or five bets.

Pot Limit Omaha and Other Omaha Poker Variants

Cards lying face up on a poker table

In addition to Pot Limit Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo, there are numerous variations in Omaha. Players often combine some of them into an Omaha Mix game or tournament to make things interesting.

Five-Card Omaha / Big O

These are alternate names for Pot Limit Omaha played with five hole cards instead of four. Players must still use two of their hole cards in combination with three cards on the board. And this is always played as a split pot (hi-lo) game.


Courchevel poker is also a form of Omaha with five hole cards instead of four. The first community card is also dealt at the same time as the hole cards, so there is no pre-flop betting. The dealer then finishes the flop before another round of betting. There is only a high pot, though it can be played hi-lo if players choose, and it is typically played in Pot Limit Omaha form.

Six-Card Omaha

This version of Pot Limit Omaha delivers six hole cards to each player, from which they must use exactly two along with three community cards to make a winning hand. Due to the number of cards dealt, this is often played with six or fewer players (6-Max).

Play Omaha Poker Tournaments Online

From beginning Omaha players to those with some experience, the best place to practice Omaha games is online. BetMGM Poker offers PL Omaha Hi and PL Omaha Hi-Lo cash games from $0.01/$0.02 up to $25/$50. There are also daily PLO and PLO-8 tournaments for $10 and $20 buy-ins that offer prize pool guarantees from $200 to $500. Players can also find PLO in the Sit & Go category, mostly in the hyper-turbo heads-up format. Buy-ins for those SNGs range from $1 to $100.

Register at BetMGM Poker now.

When poker players want to move beyond Texas Hold’em, Omaha is the next step.