A lesson in Omaha 8 poker from Daniel Negreanu himself

  • Daniel Negreanu gets you started with Omaha 8 in YouTube tutorial
  • Champion aims to add variety to players’ poker repertoire

Continuing his video series preparing players for the upcoming WSOP, Daniel Negreanu has recently published a video describing rules and some basic strategies for Omaha 8, the game also often referred to as Omaha Hi/Lo.

This game plays similarly to classic Omaha, but with one significant twist. The pot is sometimes awarded to two players: the one with the best high hand, and the one holding the best low hand.

Omaha 8 basic rules

In his video, Negreanu focuses on the limit variation of Omaha 8, which means that betting rounds are the same as the ones in limit Hold’em. There are preflop and flop fixed bets, which then get doubled for the turn and the river. For example, if the big blind is $20, you’ll be able to bet $20 (and raise in increments of $20) before and on the flop. On the turn and river, the minimum bet becomes $40.

As Negreanu already covered the general PLO rules, which apply to limit Omaha as well, we will focus on the differences Omaha 8 brings to the table, and that’s low hands.

A low hand is formed from five different cards (and the ‘different’ part is very important), of the values between an ace and an eight. The best possible low hand is A2345, which can also play as the wheel for the high. A hand like A2245 isn’t a low hand because there are two of the same cards in your combination.

At the time of the showdown, players remaining in the pot will turn their hands over, and the one (or more) with the best high hand will receive a half of the pot. Players with the best low hand will receive the other half. Of course, if more players have the same best hand, be it the high or the low, they’ll split the half won by that hand.

Since you can use any two cards from your hand to make the best hands on both ends, Negreanu emphasizes that it is possible to have the best high and the best low hand at the same time.

Starting hands selection

The goal of the game is to win the entire pot as often as you can. In his video, Negreanu explains it is of the utmost importance to have a starting hands selection that cooperates with that goal best, especially if you are new to the game.

Some of the powerful two-way hands he mentions are the hands like AA23 (single or double-suited, preferably), AKQ2, and similar. These hands can make the best high and the best low, and also have a lot of high potential on the boards without a low.

Mixing in some powerful low-only hands, like A234 or A245, isn’t a bad idea, either, but you’ll need to be much more cautious with these hands, as they aren’t as likely to flop a big high hand.

Daniel Negreanu masterclass Omaha 8 poker.
Daniel Negreanu gives an animated masterclass Omaha 8 poker

Another thing Negreanu particularly emphasizes is that middling hands that play relatively well in regular Omaha, like 5678 or 6789, are really bad hands in Omaha 8, as they’ll almost never scoop the pot (win the entire pot instead of just the half).

Basic strategy

Although Omaha 8 is a fairly complicated game, Negreanu brings some fundamental strategy advice for those looking to get their feet wet. Some of his advice, in a nutshell, would be:

Don’t overplay nut low draws. With these hands, you’ll often only win a quarter of the pot, as someone else will have a nut low as well, while the opponent with the high will take the full half of the pot.

Be mindful of being counterfeited. If you have a hand like A2KJ on the flop of 4 5 8, you have a nut low for the time being, but a 2 coming on the turn will counterfeit your hand.

Hands that flop a nut low and have big re-draws, like the nut flush draw, are to be played aggressively. This is a situation known as “freerolling,” as even if your opponent has the same hand at the moment, you have a lot of potential to improve.

Like with all limit games, don’t make too many hero folds on the river, as you’ll be getting great odds, but also be prepared to let go of weaker hands in multi-way pots.

If you are interested in developing your Omaha 8 game, definitely check out the entire video, as Daniel Negreanu once again does a great job of introducing a new game and giving you the tools necessary to embark on a brand new poker adventure.

Ivan Potocki is a former professional poker player and casino and poker journalist.

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