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Initial thoughts on 5 card PLO

By: GodlikeRoy @ 05:54 (EDT) / 3435 / Comment ( 2 )


When I heard Stars would be introducing some new games I was very excited. A new poker game is always interesting but when the new game is an extension of my bread and butter game (regular PLO) it's really something special for me to look forward to.

I had virtually zero 5 card PLO experience prior to the last few days. I thought about what to expect in the lead up to the games being released and most things you'd expect from 5card PLO are exactly what happen.

For starters the most basic of all is that you get an extra card. What a lot of people don't realise though is that the addition of just one card leads to almost TWICE the number of possible pre-flop hand combination to regular PLO. With four cards you have a total of six possible hand combinations, with five card this increases to ten possible combos.

What this means (obviously) is that relative hand strengths are going to go through the roof. Just like when you move from NLHE to PLO you learn that 2pair is no longer a super strong hand and kings pre-flop are nothing to write home about, when you move from PLO to 5 card PLO you need to start thinking the same way. All of a sudden a four card rundown preflop is nothing to write home about, the 2nd nut flush or middle set are now far more vulnerable to being beat and that nut straight with a small redraw? Better watch out for the nut straight + set + flush draw + bigger straight draw that crushes your redraw!

How does this affect game play? Well there are two schools of thought. One is that you need to tighten up as everyone will have a stronger range and playing your more marginal hands is going to lead to disaster. The other is that since equities now run THAT much closer together, more hands can be played. Even a marginal hand can flop huge and it's that much harder to be dominated now with the addition of the fifth card.

What is correct? Beats me! The game is still so new and fresh that there's neither enough analytical nor empirical evidence to say what is best. We're in the early stages of a game and just like in the early days of PLO and NLHE what is thought to be good or best now is unlikely to be the case later in the game's evolution.

My advice is to get out there, get some hands in, and get your experience. Do work away from the table with an equity simulator such as one you can find at and you'll already be well ahead of the curve. It's a fantastic time to be playing the game in it's infancy - tracking programs aren't caught up yet so with no omaha manager or pokertracker everyone is on the same, unknown, even footing.

I'll leave you with a basic statistic/starting point in your quest to learn the odds of 5 card PLO: In regular 4 card PLO you have a 2.57% chance of being dealt AAxx pre-flop. In 5 card PLO the odds of you being dealt AAxxx increase to 4.17%. Do with this what you will. Good luck!


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