Fixed-Limit Omaha hi-lo is a game of multiple draws, outs and constant evaluation of pot-odds. In low-limit games in particular, it is common to see a flop with 4 to 6 players, meaning that you will need a 'nut hand' to win either the high or low side of the pot.
With pre-flop standards so loose it can be difficult to determine the best (most profitable) time to raise before the flop in small buy-in Omaha Hi-Lo poker. This article examines some common scenarios to help you increase your Omaha Hi-Lo winnings today.
There are 2 main reasons to raise before the flop in Fixed-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo. Either for 'value' or to thin the field. Value raises are made when you think you have the best hand and would like to get as much money into the pot as possible. 'Thinning' raises are made when you have a hand that can be played profitably against a small number of opponents but not in a multi-way limped pot.
Value raises can be made with extra strong hands such as A-A-2-3 double suited or even A-2-3-K double suited. These hands have strength in multi-way pots as they are likely to make nut hands, both on the low and high sides and possibly both.
It is important to consider your objective when raising before the flop with these type of hands. If you re-raise from early position and make it 2-bets (or even 3-bets) cold to the rest of the table then you are not fulfilling your objective of maximizing the number of bets which go into the pot. Too many players who might have called and gone on to make a 2nd best hand will now fold.
Conversely you may find yourself in late position (or even in the blinds) and see several limpers ahead. Now is a good time to raise for value since it is far less likely your opponents will fold having committed a bet to the pot already.
Some hands such as A-2-K-K play better against just a few opponents. The high-pair may be enough to win the high side of the pot and opponents with a 'bare A-2' may be unwilling to call 2 or 3 bets cold to stay in the pot - avoiding being quartered for the low.
In this case you should look to re-raise from early position - forcing your opponents to decide whether they are willing to pay 2-bets to see a flop. If the flop comes favorable to your hand then you may again be in a position to make it 2-bets to the field.
To summarize, raising before the flop in fixed-limit Omaha hi-lo poker games creates strategy issues at the lower buy-in levels, where the action is fast and loose. The best way to approach this is to decide whether your objective is to get money into the pot, or to thin the field - then let your position at the table relative to those who have already bet determine your best course of action.