Dipping Your Toes Into the PLO8 Waters

Discover which PLO8 starting hands you should play and which you should avoid in our hand beginners guide

We should be bringing you coverage of the 2020 World Series of Poker but COVID-19 put paid to that. The WSOP is magical because it showcases different poker variants instead of focussing on No-Limit Hold’em. Several games crown their champions, including Pot-Limit Omaha Hi/Low, or PLO8 as it is abbreviated to.

PLO8 is an extremely fun game and one that everyone should try, especially if they’re fans of standard PLO. I recently played in a low-stakes PLO8 tournament online and partypoker and had immense fun. It helps that I finished third from 130 entrants, but that’s a different story entirely!

That final table appearance gave me some inspiration for this PLO8 strategy article. Here’s hoping you can use it to reach your own final table in this crazy, yet fun, game.

What Are The Rules of PLO8

PLO8 uses the same rules as traditional Pot-Limit Omaha but with split-pot rules. This means everyone receives four hole cards and exactly two must be used to create the best five-card poker hand. This takes some getting used to, especially if there’s a four-flush on the board and you have one of that suit in your hand. You don’t have a flush in this instance!

PLO8 is a split-pot game meaning you can win with both a high and a low hand. Half the pot is awarded to the low hand and half to the high. You secure the entire pot if there is no possible high or low hand. At least three cards eight or lower have to be on the board for a low to be possible.

Winning the entire pot is called scooping. You can also win half the pot or even be quartered. The latter is when, for example, you split the low half of the pot while someone else wins the high.

What Are The Best PLO8 Starting Hands

Every PLO8 hand looks playable thanks to the split-pot element but don’t get drawn into this trap. You still need to be selective with your hands if you want to taste success.

PLO players like their four hole cards to work together. Hands like As-Ac-Ks-Kc are powerhouse hands in Omaha Hi. You have the strongest two pairs, flush possibilities, and Broadway straight chances. This is also a strong hand in PLO8, but you have zero chance of winning the low.

Your PLO8 starting hands should follow similar rules where you try to have four cards that work together. Bear in mind straights are massive hands in this format, especially low straights. They give you the chance to scoop the pot by winning the high and low halves.

Hands win A-2 in them are extremely strong, with this in mind. A-A-2-3 double suited, so As-Ah-2s-3h for example, is the best PLO8 starting hand. This is followed by A-A-2-4 double suited, and so on.

Being double suited makes your hand more playable because it has flush potential. Ideally, each hand you play has the chance of making a high and a low hand to increase your chances of winning.

What Hands Should I Avoid?

PLO8 starting hands create many pitfalls for the unseasoned player. Every hand looks pretty, especially hands like 5-6-7-8. This is a dangerous hand because it’s unlikely improve to the nuts and PLO8 is a game of the nuts. A straight made with 5-6-7-8 is vulnerable because anyone with a hand with 3-4 in it. Players love holding A-2 or A-3 in their hands, which causes these middle run down problems.

New players overvalue hands like K-K-T-9 and play the game like Omaha Hi. The hand in this example isn’t exactly fantastic even in that discipline. Get used to tossing away many seemingly playable hands in PLO8, especially high pairs with a couple of random cards.

Playing on short-handed tables opens up more possibilities to play hands like K-K-2-4. Just don’t get married to the hand when you make the second nuts.

Omaha Hi/Low Outs Probabilities

It’s possible to have more than 20 outs when playing PLO8, but it is rare. You don’t have to memorize this table, but it helps to know your chances of improving in the most common situations.

Number of Outs % On Flop (2 cards to go) % On Turn (1 card to go)
1 4.4 2.3
2 8.8 4.5
3 13.0 6.8
4 17.2 9.1
5 21.2 11.4
6 25.2 13.6
7 29.0 15.6
8 32.7 18.2
9 36.7 20.5
10 39.9 22.7
11 43.3 25.0
12 46.7 27.3
13 49.9 29.6
14 53.0 31.8
15 56.1 34.1
16 41.0 36.7
17 61.8 38.6
18 64.5 40.1
19 67.2 43.2
20 69.7 45.5

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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