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PLO Hi/Lo Strategy Guide - Part 1


In this article
  • How to play PLO Hi/Lo
  • The Terminology
  • Understanding the Board

This articles intention is to provide a solid, basic understanding of all aspects of Pot Limit Omaha/8 for beginners.

PLO Hi/Lo is a high/low split variant of Pot limit Omaha.

Each player is dealt 4 cards and shares 5 community cards with the other players. There are a total of 4 betting rounds followed by a showdown. Each player in a pot limit game can raise no more than the size of the current pot.

A player uses the best two cards in their hand, along with 3 of the 5 community cards, to make the strongest 5 card poker hand they can. Then they use the best combination of 2 cards from their starting hand and 3 community cards to make a qualifying low hand. The player(s) with the best qualifying low hand wins half of the pot. The other half of the pot is awarded to the player(s) with the best high hand. If no player qualifies for the low pot, then the whole pot is won by the player(s) with the best high hand.

To qualify for low you must make a 5 card poker hand where all cards are 8 or less with no pairs. The lower the cards, the stronger the hand is. The best low hand is A2345 with the worst low hand being 45678. We ignore straights and flushes when looking at the low hand. For an easy way of deciding which is lower, arrange the cards in descending order and read them like a five-digit-number. The lower the number the better the hand is.

A2348 becomes 84321. 23567 becomes 76532. So we can see now that 23567 is a better 5 card hand for low.


It's important to learn the terminology involved with PLO Hi/Lo, of which some will be unique to PLO Hi/Lo.

Nut low: Nut low: The best possible low hand, consisting of the two lowest wheel cards that help to complete the ace to five wheel, like A2 on a 368 board or 24 on an A38 board.

Nut-Nut: The best possible high and low hand, such as having A2 suited on a 358 flush board.

Counterfeit: This is when you have the nut low on the flop or turn, and the next card hits which makes a different 2 card combination the new best low hand. If you have A2xx on a 357 board and a 2 hits, your hand is considered counterfeited and A4 becomes the new best low hand possible.

Chop: When two players split the pot, typically one winning high and one low. Live players will often utter “chop chop” (or “chop it up baby” in the case of Scotty Nguyen). If it was folded to the blinds and both players end up chopping a big pot, someone will gleefully announce “House wins!”, as after the rake is paid, both players will have lost money.

Freerolling: This is when a player is guaranteed half the pot on the flop or turn and has a free shot at winning the other half of the pot at no risk to himself. An example of this would be Ah2h on a 3h7h8c board vs a player with 88. A2 wins the low half of the pot and has a chance to win the high half by hitting a flush against the player with top set.

Quartering: When a player splits either a high or low half of the pot with another player, half of a half being a quarter. “I quartered him with my nut low and nut flush”. Also possible, but rarer, are getting sixthed and eighthed when low or high is chopped 3 ways or 4 ways respectively.

Trapped: A player with a medium strength high and low hand who is caught in a raising war between a better high hand and a better low hand is said to be trapped. He will lose both pots but keeps calling hoping he is good for half and that one of the other players will stop raising.

Scoop: To win the whole pot when a low hand is possible. A lot more likely to do when holding nut-nut.

Protection: On the flop or turn when you have the best low and are still guaranteed the best low no matter what card hits. Example is holding AK23 on a 678 board. You are said to have nut low with protection as if the turn comes A, 2 or 3 you will still hold the nut low.

Wheel cards: A, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Collectively these are referred to as wheel cards, the five together make the nut low which cannot be beat.

Steel Wheel: A to 5 in the same suit.

Wrap: A 4 card straight where one of several cards hitting the next street will give the player a straight. The most outs for a wrap is 20, such as holding QJ98 on a KT7 board, where a straight will be made should A, Q, J, 9, 8 or 6 hit the river.

Wheel Wrap: Holding a hand like A25x on a 34x board where any non-pairing low card gives you the guaranteed nut low.

So now we’re all consummate experts at the terminology used in PLO8, let’s move on to understanding the board in PLO Hi/Lo, throwing in the terms we’ve just learned to get better acquainted with them.

Understanding the Board


In the first example here, we haveAsAcKdQs in hand and the board is a wheel, Ad2c3h4c5d. On this board we have a set of aces and no low. We need 2 cards of 8 or less in our hand to make a low and we only have one, an ace. Any player with two low cards would chop the pot with us, but if they have two wheel cards or a six with a deuce through seven then they scoop. These hands all make a straight for high and scoop the pot, winning high and low.


On this board we hold Ah8h7s6s and the board is the same as the first, showing a wheel, ace through five.

We will use the 7s6s in hand to make nut high, but as in the first example, we don’t have nut low. We need to use the Ah and 6s from our hand which gives us 2nd nut low. Nut low would be held by any player with 2 wheel cards which we don’t have. We share 2nd nut low with anyone else who has A6, 26, 36 or 46 in hand for A2346 in total. 56 would be no good as it would use the A23 on the board for A2356 which is a worse low than A2346.


We are dealt Ac2c6h5d and see a flop of 3d4s8h. We have nut low using the ace and deuce but we also have what is called “nut low with protection”. We cannot lose the low pot as any ace, 2 or 5 that hits gives us a wheel, we cannot be counterfeited on this board. This doubles as a strong wheel wrap draw to scoop the pot. An A, 2 or 7 gives us a nut straight for high. If a 5 hits we make a 6 high straight using the 2c and 6h and likewise if a 6 hits we make a 6 high straight with the 2c and 5d.


Board Ah8hAs8c9h. Hand AcKhQh2c.

On this board no low is possible as there are only 2 unique low cards. The high hand in this case will scoop the pot. Because we have to use 2 cards in our hand, we do not have a full house. If we were to use an ace, our second card would have to be an A, 9 or 8 to make a full house or quads. As it is, we use the Kh and Qh in hand, along with the 3 hearts on the board to make a flush.


Ac6c4d2d. 6d6h4c3h2s. On this board we flopped the nut high, which is a full house, sixes over fours, plus we also had a nut low draw. The 3h on the turn gave us nut-nut, but because we didn’t have protection, the river counterfeited our nut low. Nut low is now a wheel with A and 5 in hand. We have 2nd nut low using Ac2d with 3h4c6d on the board. Another player with A3, A4 or A6 would also have 2nd nut low and would get quartered.


Ad5h2d2c. Board 3h6d3d3s3c. Here there is no low available, as there are only 2 cards 8 or less on the board. For our high hand, we have to use 2 cards from our hand and this will be the 2d2c. With the 3h3d3s from the board this will give us a full house, threes over deuces.


Now you should have an understanding of the rules, plus the terminology we will use, along with some board reading skills. In the second article we will look at starting hands requirements and the reasons why they are playable/unplayable.


Comments (2)

#1 vladrage, 03 Feb 11 11:06

Great article.

#2 surfwell1818, 20 May 14 09:43

Thanks for this.