What's the Deal with Five Card PLO?

Jakub Szczotka
7 gru 2023
5 mins read

If you've never played much of any poker game or Texas Hold'em is your long-time favourite, you might be asking yourself: why bother with PLO5?

Well, it turns out that the younger brother of Pot Limit Omaha is getting more and more attention, and we're here to shed some light on this game.

While PLO5 is not that popular on major online poker platforms, it's the new favourite game of many gamblers, especially live. Many PLO cash games nowadays include the five-card variant, and sometimes PLO5 is getting more attention than PLO4. The reason is simple: five cards guarantee even more action than "regular" Pot Limit Omaha.

In PLO5, you can be dealt a "straight", a "flush" or even a "royal flush"

PLO on steroids

At first glance, the only difference between the PLO and PLO5 is the number of hole cards dealt. That's mostly true; however, this one card changes the game flow more than you might suspect. Let's look at the number of preflop combinations, for instance - the additional card increases it drastically. While there are over 270 thousand combos in PLO4, the PLO5 offers you a staggering 2.8 million. It is a truly gargantuan number compared to 1326 of No Limit Hold'em!

Despite PLO5 and PLO4 having the same pot limit rules and the same rules regarding the community cards, the devil is, as usual, in the details.

As you're probably aware, it's quite easy to get carried away in PLO4; very loose plays are standard since many hands look appealing to amateur players.

This effect is even stronger in PLO since every hand you get dealt has at least two cards of the same suit, and more often than not, they are partially connected. Don't get fooled, though; on average, a hand you're willing to play in PLO5 should be an improved version of a PLO4 hand. Overall, the fifth card adds another layer of complexity and further underlines the correct preflop play's significance.

For example, when playing mid-stakes Pot Limit Omaha at 100BB, you can profitably open almost 70% of your KK combos. This number drops significantly - to around 44% under the same circumstances in PLO5. There are many more differences like this, such as playing double-paired hands, which are worth exploring if you want to learn more about PLO5.

While overall hand-to-play frequencies on particular positions are similar to regular PLO, the qualities of your starting hand are even more important.

To be a UTG open Kings require a solid backup

5c Pot Limit Omaha don'ts

As is the case in PLO, the hands with Aces in PLO5 are not always a slam-dunk raise/reraise preflop. This effect is noticeable since equities run even more smoothly in the PLO5 than in PLO; therefore, you will very rarely be able to get it in preflop with a significant equity edge (however, a premium AA hand, like AAJJT double suited, will have a 60-40 equity lead over trash AA, like AA2T7 single-suited). As a result, you'll often have to play postflop with reasonably deep stacks, and that's where you'll be rewarded for correct preflop selection.

Appropriate preflop assumptions translate to postflop strategy as well.

For example, flopping a top pair in No Limit Hold'em is usually a good enough spot to put a considerable or even all your chips into the pot. The same is rare in PLO - only the top pairs with well-connected side cards are played aggressively or can withstand aggression. In PLO5, top pairs are even more vulnerable, meaning that most of the time, only the absolute best combinations with the perfectly lined side cards can continue when facing aggression.

You need to understand that PLO 5 rewards discipline more than other games; often, you'll have to fold very strong hands since your real equity will be much lower than the perceived one.

Another blunt example is stacking off with "the nuts". For players with no experience in PLO, putting all the chips in the middle with the best possible hand at any street seems natural. That might be a costly habit in PLO5. Stacking off with, let's say, 87 without any backup (meaning no pairs, gutshot to a higher straight or flush draw) on a 654 versus the same hand backed up with set and/or flush draw may result in you having less than 30% equity, despite having the best made hand and the very moment!

Made hands can be deceitful, and PLO5 forces you to be more aware of the overall playability of your hand and the next streets, which will affect the board structure.

The good news is that the nature of this game attracts many people who crave action and are unwilling to fold bottom/middle sets or weak flashes. With so many potential combos preflop, it's easy to get lost in what should be and shouldn't be a VPIP in certain situations.

Nowadays, even weaker players are somewhat aware of the preflop strategy for Texas Hold'em. The same is pretty far from true for a 5 Card PLO. Given all of the circumstances, we'd argue that PLO5 has the weakest fields out of all of the mainstream games; if you do not believe it, try out the nearest cash game - you might be surprised.

Since the game is so broad and complex, no solver has been publicly available yet. And without solvers it's hard to come up with the optimal strategy. Luckily for you, that's about to change.

PLO5 is an interesting and profitable game

And you'll be able to take advantage of that. In fact, you can do so right now. PLO Genius provides you with preflop solutions for both PLO and PLO5, and we're also about to deploy something special - a library of solved postflop PLO5 spots.

Due to the vast number of those, it won't be an easy task, and it will take some time, but the final effect promises to be staggering. You can check out the results of our work right now. The first boards are available in the PLO Genius as a beta feature!

Try it out and see for yourself how easy it is to use.