Pot Limit Omaha: Explaining the Difference between PLO and NLHE

Poker Academy
01 Jun 2024
Omaha Strategy
01 Jun 2024

There are many different types of poker besides No Limit Texas Hold'em (NLHE).

One particularly popular game is PLO (Pot-Limit Omaha). Some professional poker players predict that the number of Omaha players will surpass that of Texas Hold'em in the near future.

In this article, we will introduce what Omaha is and how it differs from Texas Hold'em.

Note that there are several variations of Omaha, but this article will focus solely on the most popular variant — PLO.

What is PLO (Pot-Limit Omaha)?

PLO is a community card poker game where each player is dealt four hole cards.

The basic flow and rules are the same as in Texas Hold'em, with betting rounds (streets) progressing through pre-flop, flop, turn, and river. In each round, players can choose to check, call, bet, fold, or raise.

However, there are several key differences in the rules compared to NLHE. These include:

  1. Four hole cards are dealt to each player.
  2. The size of bets and raises is capped at the pot size (pot-limit).
  3. At showdown, players must use exactly two of their hole cards and three of the community cards to make their best hand.

Let's look at these differences in detail.

Four Hole Cards

In Hold'em, each player is dealt two hole cards, whereas in Omaha, each player is dealt four cards.

For example, with A♦A♠7♥6♦, you have A♦A♠ plus 7♥6♦ as side cards.

Four cards greatly increase the number of pre-flop combinations compared to Hold'em.

In Hold'em, it is possible to memorize all pre-flop ranges for 100bb with enough study. However, in Omaha, memorizing ranges is extremely difficult. Instead, you need to learn patterns, such as double pairs (5599) or A-high double suits (A622).

Capped Bet Sizing

The most common games in Omaha are PLO and PLO5. As the name suggests, these are Pot-Limit games, meaning betting or raising cannot exceed the size of the pot.

Therefore, there is no such thing as an overbetting strategy, so players who are used to NLHE should be careful about this.

Making Hands with Only Two Hole Cards

In Omaha, you must use exactly two of your hole cards and three of the community cards to make your hand.

You cannot make a hand using three hole cards and one community card, for example.

Let's look at an example.

You have A♠4♥8K and the board cards are 3♠4♠Q♠7♠J, so your best hand is a pair of 4s. You do not have an A-high flush because you must use exactly two of your hole cards. If you do not have two cards of the same suit in your hand, you cannot make a flush in Omaha.

Features of PLO

So far, we have explained the rules of PLO. These rules give PLO some unique characteristics compared to No-Limit Hold'em.

Equity is Closer

Since players use four hole cards, their equities tend to be closer in Omaha. In No-Limit Hold'em, AA has over 80% equity against a random hand.

In Omaha, AA can have around 50% equity depending on the side cards.

Strong Hands are Easier to Make

Omaha generally produces stronger hands compared to Hold'em. Nuts or second nuts frequently appear.

In Texas Hold'em, two pairs or three of a kind are often very strong hands. However, in Omaha, these hands are not as strong when it comes to showdowns.

You will often see hands like flushes, straights, and full houses in Omaha, which are stronger than two pairs or three of a kind.

Let's look at an example.

If you have 8♠9T♠J♠ and the board is 79♥J♦K♠2♥, you have a straight with 789TJ, but if your opponent has Q and T, you lose.

If the pot is large by the river, it’s likely that your opponent has a hand like that.

In Omaha, even if you make a hand, the possibility that your opponent has a stronger hand is higher. Therefore, participating with marginal hands just because the odds are good can lead to losing EV.


Pot-Limit Omaha is still a developing game. Texas Hold'em has numerous books and tools available, but Omaha lacks beginner-friendly tools and books. Therefore, you need to find your own ways to learn and become stronger in Omaha.

On the other hand, if you study well, you can become better than your opponents with less study time compared to Hold'em. Mastering Omaha now could become a valuable skill as the game develops in the future.

Additionally, studying Omaha can provide perspectives that are useful in other poker games like Hold'em. If you’re even slightly interested, why not start with low stakes and give Omaha a try?

There are no comments here yet, you can be the first!