Hi-Lo Poker - Your 5 Minute Guide

Hi-Lo games are popular at many of the bigger poker sites for Australians. Hi-Lo can be played in Stud or Omaha formats, and usually in cash games at all ranges of stakes. Hi-Lo also forms two rounds in a game of HORSE (Omaha Hi-Lo and Stud Hi-Lo/Stud Eight-or-Better).

Essentially, in a game of Hi-Lo, there is the chance to win two pots: one for the best high hand, and one for the best qualifying low hand. The low hand must consist of five cards below 8 to qualify.

With our help, you’ll be able to:

  • Learn the game, master the variations and discover how to play a great Hi-Lo hand
  • Find out the best and busiest sites to play Hi-Lo poker online
  • Enjoy free AUD cash rewards when you start playing Hi-Lo

If you are looking for Hi-Lo poker, is the best place to play.

Understanding The Split Pots In Hi-Lo

Normally played Pot Limit, Hi-Lo features two possible pots to be won: half the pot for the highest hand and half the pot for the lowest qualifying hand. For a low hand to qualify, the five cards held at showdown must be of 8 or lower.

While many pots therefore get split (one player winning the High with another the low) the aim is to work out if your hand can realistically win BOTH pots.

Hi-Lo: Basic Starting Hand Selection

Omaha Hi-Lo

In Omaha Hi-Lo, or Omaha 8, it's important to win both the high and low pots. It's vital, then, to have starting hands that give you an opportunity to hit low straights (with an ace) and ace-high straights and flushes. Of course, having A-A in your hand is a great benefit. Start by aiming for the high hand, but have redraws to the low.

Therefore, while A-A-K-K is a great hand in Omaha Hi, it won't get you far in Omaha Hi-Lo. Better, then to aim for these premium Omaha Hi-Lo starting hands:

  • A-A-2-3 double-suited
  • A-A-2-4 double-suited
  • A-A-2-3 double-suited
  • A-2-4-x
  • A-A-2-4 single suited
  • A-A-3-4 double suited
  • A-A-2-2
  • A-A-3-5
  • A-A-2-6

Note that double-suited hands are valued highly. A premium hand like A-A-2-3 with two suits (say, As-Ac-2s-3c) has the opportunity to make an A-2-x-x-x low hand. There are also flush and straight possibilities and the A-A can also improve to make trips or a full house.

Omaha Hi-Lo is a hand-driven game. If you have the nuts or near-nuts you're in good shape to win. That's why it's vital to always be drawing to either the best hand or next-best hand in order to continue.

Stud Hi-Lo

Stud Hi-Lo (also known as Stud Eight-or-Better) works in a similar way to Omaha Hi-Lo. It plays as 7-card Stud, but half the pot can be won by a low hand with five cards below 8. Like Omaha Hi-Lo, straights don't count high, so the best hand is A-2-3-4-5.

There is a big difference between Omaha Hi-Lo and Stud Hi-Lo. Where in Omaha you're trying to play for the high (with a redraw to the low), it's the other way round in Stud Hi-Lo. In this game, you should aim for a low hand first but redraw to the best high hand.

In Stud Hi-Lo, players get dealt two cards face down and one face up. As in Stud Hi, the lowest up card starts the betting, so if you get going first you can make that low hand count.

Good starting hands in Stud Hi-Lo would look like this:

In Stud Hi-Lo, look to good starting hands that can make a low. Pairs, flush draws and straight draws are also good for helping you scoop the high as well.

  • (A-2)5
  • (A-2)3
  • (2-4)5
  • (2-5)3
  • (2-5)8

These are good hands as all cards are below an 8. If the three cards are suited, you have a chance of getting a flush and winning the high.

  • (A-K)Q suited
  • (A-A)A
  • (K-K)K
  • (Q-Q)Q
  • (J-J)J
  • (A-A)K
  • (A-A)Q
  • (A-A)J

While they won't help win a low, these starting hands are solid premium type hands that can help you scoop the high.

Finding Hi-Lo Poker Games Online

Australian players can enjoy many Hi-Lo games for free online but some of the bigger poker sites run a range of cash games and small tournaments to suit all stakes. You won't find thousands of players hitting these tables as in No Limit Texas Hold'em, but they are growing in popularity.

Omaha Hi-Lo tournaments can also be found at major live poker festivals like the Aussie Millions and World Series of Poker. It's harder to find regular tournaments in Australia, however, but the Crown Melbourne runs occasional Omaha Hi-Lo special events with low buy-ins.

Hi-Lo Poker FAQ

What Is Hi-Lo Poker?

Hi-Lo is the term for a range of poker games where the pot can be split between the best high hand and the best low hand, if available.

Where Can I Play It Online?

Most of the bigger poker sites in Australia run cash games and small tournaments for Omaha Hi-Lo or Stud Hi-Lo players. You'll also find a good selection of play-money Hi-Lo games available.

How Does It Compare To Other Variations?

In standard high-hand poker games, only the best, or highest, hand wins. With Hi-Lo games, your strategy must change as you try to chase BOTH the highest and lowest winning hands. Betting is also different to No Limit Texas Hold'em. Hi-Lo games are usually played with a Limit or Pot Limit betting structure.

How Long Do The Games Last?

Tournaments can last a couple of hours but cash games in Hi-Lo will continue as long as there are players at the table.

How Much Can Be Won?

It depends on the number of players. Average cash game pots can sit at around $2 in a game of $0.10/$0.20 Stud Hi-Lo, but pots can sometimes be halves or quartered if you share the best hand with an opponent or opponents.

Is It Recommended For Beginner Players?

Hold'em is a better game to start with if you're a beginner. It's easier to pick up and strategy is more straightforward. Kick off your Hi-Lo journey with some play-money games online before tackling the small-stakes cash games.

Is There A Tournament Option?

Yes. Most major poker sites run regular Stud Hi-Lo and Omaha Hi-Lo tournaments, and bigger series and festivals will feature at least one Stud Hi-Lo/Omaha Hi-Lo event.