High only hands in PLO8

High only hands have very little value in deep stack PLO8 cash games. PLO8 played as a cash game is not a very common fo...

Posted Dec 24, 2017


Bart Hanson BW2

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

High only hands have very little value in deep stack PLO8 cash games.

PLO8 played as a cash game is not a very common form of poker. Of all of the poker variants it perhaps has the LEAST variance and volatility making it hard for bad players to even win within a single session. However, recently PLO8 has been creeping into some big bet mixes. Also, Big O, the five-card variety of PLO8, is gaining more and more popularity and is commonly played up to $5-$10 at the WSOP.

One of the biggest mistakes that I see being made in PLO8 cash games is players coming from a PLO high background playing straight high hands. I’m talking about hands like AKQJds, which in PLO is a super premium hand. However, in PLO8, where a low actually qualifies in 60% of all hands (three unpaired cards appearing lower than an eight) the types of boards that connect with these holdings do not get a lot of action. Take for example a board of 9 Q K. In PLO high this is an action board as players will have broadway cards in their hand. But in PLO8 players tend to have ace and wheel cards as their starting requirements so when you flop a straight with JT it is very rare that anyone will call large bets with the exception of if they have a set.

So if no one will fight for these types of boards should we not play high hands since we know we can win when high cards come out? The problem with this thinking is that the low comes out 60% of the time and when it appears you are only going for half the pot. So you have the worst of both worlds. No action with no low appearing and only drawing for half the pot with a low present.

On another note one of the easiest ways to tell if a player has experience playing a high low game is to see if they are playing middling cards. Hands like 789Tds are power run down in PLO high but are pure trash in PLO8. That is because if they make a nut straight there will be low on board, so most of the time they chop. If you make a straight with these middle hands with no low present the hand will be the bottom end of the straight.

There is an exception to playing high hands and that is in PLO8 tournaments or when playing very short. In those cases it’s not terrible to get in bad aces or Kings (preferably with a qualifying low) or even a high rundown against a hand like A2xx but that’s only in extreme cases where you can get all the money in preflop and you can see all five cards.

However, if you are just learning the game it is a very easy adjustment to play NO HIGH HANDS at all. You will not be giving up that much and will stay out of trouble. These types of hands in PLO8 will usually lead you to winning a small pot or losing a very large one.

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