PLO Poker: A Beginner’s Guide to Pot-Limit Omaha


Omaha hold’em, often called simply Omaha, is an exciting poker game that is strikingly similar to Texas hold’em, although it does have a number of differences to set it apart.

Unlike Texas hold’em, a game in which the preferred betting structure is no-limit, the most popular betting structure of Omaha games is pot-limit. Games of this type are referred to as pot-limit Omaha, abbreviated as PLO poker.

The first major difference you’ll instantly be aware of when playing PLO poker instead of hold’em is that each player is dealt exactly four hole cards instead of two. However, players don’t use all four hole cards to make a hand because they can only use two of them. In fact, players must use exactly two of their hole cards along with three of the community cards to make a five-card poker hand.

For example, if a player holds {A-Hearts}{K-Clubs}{Q-Spades}{J-Clubs} — a strong starting hand in pot-limit Omaha — and the five community cards read {K-Hearts}{10-Hearts}{6-Spades}{3-Hearts}{2-Hearts}, the player does not hold a flush despite holding the {A-Hearts}. Neither does the player have a Broadway straight. The player actually only has a pair of kings with an ace-kicker. This may seem a little confusing when you first sit in a PLO game, but it quickly becomes second nature.

What is PLO?

Main Differences Between PLO Poker and Texas Hold’em

Besides starting with four hole cards rather than two, there are a few more differences between PLO poker and Texas hold’em. One such difference is that preflop hands in pot-limit Omaha run much closer in terms of equity than they do in hold’em. In hold’em, a hand such as {A-Hearts}{A-Spades} is an 82.36% favorite over {K-Hearts}{K-Spades} before the flop, but in PLO poker a hand such as {A-Spades}{A-Hearts}{7-Diamonds}{6-Diamonds} will only beat {K-Hearts}{K-Spades}{Q-Hearts}{J-Spades} 59.84% of the time.

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