Pot Limit Omaha High/Low Eight or Better Rules and Basic Strategy

Rules of the Game

Pot Limit Omaha High/Low Eight or Better (PLO8) is slowly gaining popularity in the poker world.  There are a large amount of cash games and tournaments spread online and each year the game has increased its presence at the WSOP including a recently added $10,000 Championship event.

While it is making inroads its overall growth will ultimately be slowed by the fact that it is a tremendously challenging game to play at a high level and bad players lose their money fast.  In the limit version the mistakes that loose bad players only cost bets and getting quartered is not a huge travesty, but in PLO8 these mistakes translate into quick decimation of stacks.  Tight players can survive and even win money in limit but in PLO8 a talented aggressive player will often be able to push them off their equity or even half of the pot at showdown.

Basic Strategy

In general a good Limit Omaha Eight or Better (LO8) hand makes for a good starting hand in PLO8 so we would refer you to that section for guidance on playable hands.  However, the pot limit version makes the value of certain hands go up while others go down.

In PLO8 it is more important that your low have more counterfeit protection, some high potential, or ideally both.  Marginal low hands go down in value because with the nut low draw and no high possibilities calling pot sized bets in the hopes of getting half is leaking money because you are calling bigger bets to gain back a smaller relative amount that you originally put in.  Getting quartered is much more expensive and also in PLO8 you typically cannot try and draw to a backdoor low.

High hands go up in value for some of the same reasons.  When there is no low yet made a high hand has more ammunition available to itself in the way of bigger bets.  At times this could even prevent nut low draws from continuing when they have nothing at all for high nor have any backup low cards for counterfeit protection.  Certainly you are almost always assured of preventing back door lows from drawing where they would be able to peel due to the smaller bets relative to pot sizes in limit.

The equities of one hand versus another is the exact same in LO8 and PLO8.  The difference lies in the ability to realize equity and playability of the various holdings.  When compared to LO8 marginal low hands under realize and play worse post flop in PLO8.  High hands over realize and have certain playing advantages.  A high hand with nut draws does not have to be that worried about being quartered and the flops that hit them strong are quite evident and easier to play well.

This is not to say that low hands have no place in PLO8 as you will still play more hands with at least two cards than pure high hands in PLO8.  However, the ratio should be much lower than it is in LO8.

If you are new to PLO8 you should tend to play slightly tighter pre-flop especially if there are many talented aggressive players in the game.  Playing a waiting game is not costing much because the blinds in PLO8 are a much smaller portion of your stack than the larger blinds in LO8.  When you enter a pot it is very useful to be in there with a strong holding as they can stand more pressure on many boards.  However, if your game is populated by many loose bad calling stations you should want to see many flops but only pump in the money when you hit the board hard.

Many pots are contested multi-way and in those situations you need to be drawing to the nuts in at least one direction, and if it’s a pure low draw having counterfeit protection is vital.  Calling with middling prospects in both directions can be very dangerous.

In shorthanded pots it’s fine to try and put the pressure on other players when you only have a bare nut low draw or middling prospects both ways but usually not correct to simply call and play in a passive manner.  On the river with just a bare nut low aggressive players can put you into some very difficult situations where the chances of getting quartered are very real and extremely costly.

Further Learning

Pot-limit Omaha Poker
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09/29/2023 12:33 am GMT

Pot Limit Poker: The Big Play Strategy by Jeff Hwang,  (Rating 10/10) – This book is an excellent resource on learning how to best approach live full ring PLO high only games, however,  it also has excellent beginning material on Pot Limit and Limit Omaha Eight or Better.

PLO8 is highly prevalent online and thus it may be worth checking out some of the subscription poker training sites to view videos made by skilled aggressive players.