Omaha Strategy: Starting Hands for 8- Hi/Lo

by Bill Burton

This lesson teaches Omaha Strategy including starting hands at the How to Play Poker program.
Omaha 8 also know as Omaha Hi/Lo is a split pot poker game where the player with the high hand splits the pot with the player with the low hand. Your ultimate goal when playing Omaha 8 is to have the hand that wins both the High and the low.  This is known as “scooping the pot.”
In Omaha, it is possible to have a tie for the low hand and this occurs more often than you might realize. When a tie occurs, the players split the half of the pot, they do not get a third.
For example: If one player has the high hand and two players tie for the low hand, the player with t he high hand gets half the pot but the two players with the low hand get only a quarter of the pot each.
Choosing a starting hand for Omaha 8  can be a difficult task especially for a new player. Many players look at their four hole cards and look for a reason to play. Some players think any four cards can win and they should see every flop. This is a sure sign of a losing player.
The four cards in your starting hand need to be coordinated.
This means they should work together. You want cards that can hopefully form a straight, flush or full house. Seldom does one pair win in Omaha. 
The Best Starting Hand Omaha Strategy
Because you want to scoop the pot in Hi-Lo your will usually need to hold of an ace if you expect to win the low half of the pot. The best starting hand is A-A-2-3 Double suited.
Double suited means that the A-2 is suited and the A-3 is suited as well.
This gives you a good chance at the nut flush in two different suites. It also has possibilities for a straight as well. If an Ace and a 2 or 3 appears on the board, your hand will not be counterfeited and you have the best shot at the nut low as well.

Point Count: Omaha Strategy
One method for choosing a starting hand is to use a point count method. To do this each card combination in your hand is assigned a value and you add together all the points to determine the strength of your four-card hand.
Here is how it works.
For High: Omaha Strategy
Aces count as 30 points. Kings = 13, Queens = 12, Jacks = 11 and all other pairs equal their face values. A pair of 5’s is worth five points.
Two card flushes count 10 points with an ace. All others count 4 points. Three or four of same suite count as half.
Two card straight with no gap or one gap count as 2 points. (Ex: 8-9 or 8-10)
High Cards:
Unpaired Ace = 4 points, 
King = 2points.
For Low Hands: Omaha Strategy
A-2 = 20 points
A-3 = 15 points,
2-3 = 10 points
A-4 = 10, 2-4, 3-4 = 5 points
2-3 =10
A-5, 2-5, 3-5, 4-5 = 5 points
Add up the points for your four cards for the high count and the low count. Add them together. It takes 25 points to call, 40 points to raise and 50 points to re-raise.
If you are in the small blind, you can complete your bet with 10 points.

A Good Foundation for Omaha Strategy
I found this point count method to be one of the easiest ways to give me a practical estimation of my hand strength. While it is not the only way to choose a starting hand it is the best one to use if you are new to the game or even an experienced player who has not been having much success playing Omaha.
It is easy to miss some combinations of hands when you are looking at four stating cards. This point count method helps put thing in perspective. It will also help you avoid some of the downfalls that Omaha players encounter. The biggest one is overvaluing big pairs or hands containing a single ace but now 2 or 3.
Omaha Strategy is followed by Hi-Lo Poker game versions
How to Play Poker 1 Program
Learn Poker Games 2

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Tips, Terms & Wins

Other Poker Versions: Razz
Similar to 7-card stud, this poker game’s exception is that the low hand wins.
Three cards are dealt to each player. The first two are down cards and the third is face up for everyone to see. A round of betting follows, as it does after each of the next three up cards are dealt. The seventh and last card is dealt face down.
One last round of betting and the players in the game reveal what they have.
To determine the low hand winner, flushes and straights do not count as high hands.

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