Pot Limit Omaha – Hi-Lo (PLO8)
The four key points about Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo:
- Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo is a derivative of Pot Limit Omaha where it is possible to win the pot in two different ways: either the usual way of holding the strongest hand (High), or by making the weakest possible hand (Low). In fact, pots are regularly shared between the players holding the High hand those holding the Low. A player who makes the best High and Low hand is in a position to win the entire pot.
- All the usual poker hands are valid for a High hand: pair, two pairs, three of a kind, straight, flush, four of a kind, etc. On the other hand, a Low hand can only be made up of cards with a value of 8 or below. Flushes and straights are not counted when making a Low hand. An Ace is both the strongest and weakest card in the deck: it is therefore counted towards both your High and Low hands.
- Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo is part of the community card type of poker game, in the same style as Texas Hold’em: the players make their hand using their private hole cards and the five community cards dealt to the middle of the table.
- Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo is, as the name suggests, played with Pot Limit rules: this means that the maximum bet amount permitted depends on the size of the pot. This means that unlike in No Limit Hold’em, you won’t always have the possibility to bet all your chips.
How to make a hand
IMPORTANT! Don’t forget that there is one crucial difference between PLO and Texas Hold’em: in Omaha, you must without exception use two of your private cards with three of the community cards to make your hand. Therefore, holding K-K-K-3 in your hand does not give you three of a kind, but simply a pair of Kings. Also, on a board of Q-Q-Q-Q-2 you do not hold four of a kind, but just three of a kind. On a board like this, the best hand would therefore be private cards including a pair of Aces (for Queens full of Aces.)
To be considered Low, a hand must be made up of five cards of different values and be a value of 8 or below. Straights and flushes are not taken into account when making a Low hand.
The best Low is therefore:
Ace-2-3-4-5, no matter what the suit of the cards. Additionally, this hand also makes a straight. This makes it an extremely strong hand.
The second best possible Low hand is:
The third best possible Low hand is:
And so on.
NB: In most cases, it is not possible to make a Low hand, because the community cards will typically be made up of cards higher than 8. For example, a board showing K-10-5-10-2, with only two cards below or equal to 8, making it impossible to make a Low hand, because, as we know, you must use three community cards and two private hole cards to make your hand.
The hierarchy for High hands in Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo is similar to that of Texas Hold’em, from high card (weakest hand type that don’t even include a pair) up to the royal flush (10-Jack-Queen-King-Ace of the same suit) via three of a kind, straight, four of a kind, etc.
1. Straight flush
5 cards of the same suit (Spades, Hearts, Diamonds or Clubs), and in a row. For example 4-5-6-7-8 of Hearts.
A straight flush A-K-Q-J-10 is called a Royal Flush.
This is clearly a very rare hand!
In your 5 cards, four cards of equal value. Four Aces is the strongest while four Twos is the weakest.
3. Full house
3 cards of one value with 2 cards of another value, or three-of-a-kind with a pair. A full house is ranked first according to the value of the three-of-a-kind. Example: K-K-K-3-3 beats Q-Q-Q-As-As.
5 cards of the same suit (Spades, Hearts, Diamonds or Clubs), but not in a row. We separate two flushes according to the highest card, and in the case of a tie, the next highest and so on.
Example: A-J-8-5-3 of Diamonds beats A-9-8-5-3 of Spades.
In poker, there is no different in value between the suits, but be careful, hearts and diamonds are not considered the same suit, and it’s the same for spades and clubs!
5 cards in a row, but not of the same value.
Example: 6-7-8-9-10. Straights are ranked according to the highest card. An Ace can be the highest card (A-K-Q-J-10) but also the weakest (A-2-3-4-5).
6. Three of a kind
3 cards of the same value.
7. Two pairs
K-K-7-7-2. If 2 players each hold 2 pairs, they are separated by the strongest pair. Therefore, A-A-6-6 beats Q-Q-J-J.
8. A pair
Two cards of the same value. A pair of Aces is the strongest while the weakest is a pair of 2s.
9. High card
If no player manages to make one of the hands above, not even a pair, the winner is the person who holds the highest single card.
It’s also the card which can separate two identical hands. This card is called the kicker. This is important. For example, if the board shows Q-Q-8-3-2, a player holding Q-10-9-7 will be beaten by a player holding Q-K-9-5. Both players hold three Queens, but with different kickers: 10 for the first player, beaten by the King of the second player.
IMPORTANT: Your four cards can be used to make both your High and Low hands. Therefore holding Ace-K-K-2 on a board of K-3-5-8-10 allows you to make both three Kings and a low of Ace-2-3-5-8 (the best low possible on this board).
How a hand is played
Like in Texas Hold’em, an Omaha hand starts with forced bets, called “Blinds”. The player seated directly to the left of the button posts the small blind, and the player to their left posts the big blind (generally, double the amount of the small blind).
Pot Limit Omaha is played with a maximum of nine players. Each player receives four private hole cards.
Pot Limit: how to calculate the maximum raise amount?
As the name suggests, Pot Limit Omaha is played Pot Limit: the amount that can be bet depends on the size of the pot.
The maximum amount is calculated in a fairly simple manner:
[amount required to call the big blind or last bet]
[amount in the pot after calling the big blind or last bet].
In practice: in the first round of betting with blinds of 10/20, what is the biggest raise possible?
The amount required to call the big blind or last bet = 20 + the amount in the pot after having called the big blind or last bet = SB  + BB  + call  = 10 + 10 + 20 = 50
50 + 20 = 70. The maximum raise is therefore 70.
Let’s continue: the next player also wants to raise the maximum amount. What is the biggest raise possible? The formula is the same again:
amount required to call the big blind or last bet = 70
the amount in the pot after having called the last bet = POT  + call of last bet  = 170
70 + 170 = 240. The maximum raise is therefore 240.
And so on.
Once the flop has been dealt, the calculation becomes even simpler for the first player to act: if the pot is 570, the maximum bet is therefore 570. For the next player, the maximum raise would therefore be 570 + 1,710 = 2,280.
The betting rounds and communal cards
Just like in Texas Hold’em, the first round of betting starts with the person sat to the left of the big blind. Each player has the option to call (equal the existing bet), raise (increase the stakes), or fold (quit the hand) in turn, with action moving clockwise round the table.
The first round of betting ends when the biggest bet has been equalled by one or more players. If the raise of a player is called by no other player, the pot is won by the raiser without needing to show their cards. This rule applies throughout the hand.
The second round of betting starts after the flop: three cards, face up are dealt to the middle of the table. These three communal cards are available to every player in the hand to be used with their four private cards to make the best five card hand. (Once again, don’t forget, to make this five card hand you must use two hole cards and three community cards).
The first player to act is the person seated to the left of the dealer button. Each player may bet, raise or fold in turn, with action moving clockwise round the table. Just like in Texas Hold’em, it is possible to check (not make a bet) when no bets have been placed before your turn. If one or more players bet after you have checked, action returns to you and you have the option to fold, call or raise. If all players check in a round of betting, then we go straight to the next round.
The third round of betting takes place on the turn: one card, dealt face up to the middle of the table. Just like on the flop, this fourth community car dis available to all players remaining in the hand.
Once the third round of betting is over, the fourth and final betting round takes place on the river: one card, dealt face up to the middle of the table which is once again available to every player in the hand.
Once all bets have been called in the fourth round of betting, the players remaining in the hand go to a showdown. The last player to have raised must show their cards first. If there was no bet on the last round of betting, the player to the left of the button must show their cards first. The hands are always then revealed in turn clockwise around the table.
The winner of the High (using 2 hole cards and 3 community cards), wins half of the pot. The winner of the Low (using 2 hole cards and 3 community cards), wins the other half of the pot.
The same player can win both the High and Low hands. If there is no Low hand, the best High hand wins the entire pot.
Should one or more players hold the same High and/or Low hands, the pot will be split accordingly. For example, one player holds the best High hand while two other players hold the best Low hand: the first player wins half of the pot while the two others share the other half of the pot equally, therefore receiving a quarter of the pot each.