5-Card PLO Strategy Insights: 5 Tips for Succeeding in This Popular PLO Variant

5-card-poker

5-card PLO rules are the same as 4-card PLO rules. You have to make your hand using forcibly 2 of your hole cards along with 3 out of 5 community cards. The only difference is you get an extra hole card, for a total of 5.

Since GGPoker introduced this format, a lot of the 4-card action has been switching to 5-card. This made me start looking into the game more and more. Here is a video of my first session the day GGPoker launched 5-card PLO.

Since then, I have been playing 5-card PLO almost exclusively. In this article, I’m going to give you some of the key strategic insights that I have identified to this date. 

As we expand our content in the PLO Mastermind, I will keep updating this article, so make sure to check back often.

Poker is always changing, this means that sometimes the game that recreational players are playing will change as well. So the player that can adapt the best, and the earliest, will have a massive advantage.

Translating Concepts from 4-Card

The reason it is so valuable to have a more fundamental educational path in poker is that when you do make a transition to a new game, you’re able to draw from the same concepts and learn by taking those concepts into the new game and drawing conclusions.

In 5-card, you can use the same concepts as in 4-card, but your edge lies in understanding how these concepts translate. For example, recognizing that the 5th hole card means that double suited Kings are a lot less valuable and that the side cards are very important.

As with the difference between PLO and NLHE, having an extra hole card in 5-card PLO makes a huge difference. There are around 2.6 million possible starting hand combinations in 5-card PLO, as opposed to 270,000 in the 4-card version.

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Exploitation

What I see a lot is people overvaluing their hand strength pre and post flop.

In the beginning stages of a new game in the market, it’s normal to see a lot of players playing too loose. You will naturally come across a wider range of skills and player types since players are trying out new things and ideas and haven’t spent as much time studying the game.

The principle of slow playing and checking behind very strong hands still exists, but the degree of what qualifies as a very strong hand changes. You need a lot more combined blockers to justify a slow play because otherwise, you’re just giving away free cards to your opponent.

Generally speaking, you can expect to see fewer bluffs, and also fewer hero calls overall.

Calling

Cold-calling frequencies will increase because you have more equity with the medium-strong hands and are more incentivized to enter the flop. Your overall VPIP should increase based on the fact that you are going to defend the blinds more often and you will cold call in position more often.

Although, your VPIP could be a little bit smaller exploitatively, considering the fact that people are playing way too many hands.

As people play too many hands, similar to what happens in 4-card low stakes, you have to tighten down because you need a hand that can win and dominates against multiple players more often than in GTO.

Betting

You probably want to bet bigger in certain spots, because your opponents will have more equity on average against your value range.

You need a lot more additional equity to justify betting a hand that has little equity against your opponents’ range. You will get called more often, but you also need some protection.

Leading into de preflop raiser denies opportunities where they can effectively bluff us. If you let your opponents get a free card, they have an easier time representing hands in the turn or the river.

You want to lead a bit more often in 5-card PLO. As you have 5 cards, and thus more potential blocking cards, there is a higher removal effect. So there is more incentive of leading in heads-up and multiway pots alike.

Nutiness

Quality really matters in 5-card PLO. Nutiness remains very important. It is so much easier to get a double-suited hand that looks pretty good, but you need to resist the temptation to enter the pot with all the double-suited junk hands.

King-high suits in certain situations are just not nutted enough anymore. People see a lot of multiway pots and in multiway pots with a non-ace-high suit is dangerous, maybe more even than in 4-card PLO.

Suits

Having single- and trip-suited cards in your hand at the same time is something that simply doesn’t exist in 4-card PLO. It has a significant effect on the way you’re going to play your hand. This 

In 4-card PLO, the raw equity of a single-suited hand is very similar to a trip-suited hand, but there is a large gap in the playability implications. A triple-suited hand is going to take away value, and that effect is also holding true in 5-card Omaha. It’s an important playability factor.

In the following clip from our 5-Card PLO Preflop Theory (Part 2) course, I go through how the ranking changes depending on the different suit characteristics for a specific.

Best Starting Hands

What you have to think about in Omaha is that nuttiness potential matters a ton before the flop. You have to win against a lot of hands post-flop, and you do that by adding nutted components to your hand. And when your stack is shorter, the value of high cards increases.

When you still have several players behind and you don’t block Aces by holding an Ace in your own hand, you’re going to see a 3-bet quite frequently, so you want to make sure you can continue with a lot of those hands.

Connectivity might be underappreciated or undervalued by some players. In 5-card PLO, when your hand is very connected it means 5 cards are connected, not only 4, and that just makes the hand much stronger. 

The straight draws (so to speak) that you can have preflop just have much higher quality, much more equity, and much more nuttiness as well. And vice versa, if we have a not-so-connected hand, it really takes away a lot of value.

When you only have a single-suited hand you have to pay very close attention to your side cards, you want to be very connected when playing the hand. You want to focus on high connectivity to have a better straight draw than your opponent so you can dominate them post-flop.

Pocket Aces

Here are 3 quick takeaways that can help you better understand the strength of pocket Aces in PLO 5-card, taken from Poker Tool’s Odds Oracle.

  • We have about 60% more Aces (AAxxx) in 5-card Omaha compared to 4-card. This sums up to 4.17% of all starting hands in5-card vs 2.57% in 4-card.
  • AAxxx combos rank in the top 30%, which is a lot compared to the 5% rank cap for AAxx in 4-card PLO.
  • 47% of all AAxxx are double-suited in 5-card PLO (holding at least one Ace-high suit), compared to 12.5% of AAxx being double-suited in 4-card.

In the following clip from our 5-Card PLO Preflop Theory course, I go over some examples hands other than pocket Aces you should be 4-betting in 5-card PLO (when sitting on the Cutoff and facing a raise from the Button).

Broadway Pairs

When you study the game you always want to make sure that you have a rough understanding often a certain situation or hand occurs because you don’t want to waste time in spots that almost never occur or hands you almost never play.

There are slightly more single-suited hands than double-suited hands in 5 card PLO. Pure double-suited hands account for 46.82% while double-triple suited hands account for about 10.30% of hands. Double-suited pureness isn’t that important compared to double-triple suited hands, what’s more important is how connected your hand is and how big your cards are at the end of the day.

#
Category
Odds Oracle Rankings
1
Broadway Pair Ace-High Double-Suited
8.75 (1-52)
2
Broadway Pair Ace-High Single-Suited
23.61 (3-85)
3
Broadway Pair No Ace Double-Suited
20.33 (2-81)
4
Broadway Pair No Ace Single-Suited
41.67 (5-97)
5
Broadway Pair Double-Pair Double-Suited
16.97 (1-72)
6
Broadway Pair Double-Pair Single-Suited
34.14 (3-92)

Ace-High Double-Suited

Because Aces are so prevalent in the game, and because a King-high suit has a sharp drop in value, the Ace-high suit is extremely valuable. Needless to say, being able to have the nut straight also comes in handy.

Ace-High Single-Suited

Hands with only one suit, including trip-suited hands and quad-suited hands. Because we are single-suited, we could be off-suited to the Ace, which will make a lot of hands unplayable.

No Ace Double-Suited

This means we can’t have the nut suit before the flop, so in general, we are looking to have better connectivity. We’re also unblocking pocket Aces which is a pretty big deal when it comes to pre-flop strategy.

No Ace Single-Suited

Due to us not holding an Ace and not being double-suited, we take a significant hit in strength. We have to pay close attention to our side cards, and we’re not 3-betting these hands basically ever, and we also want to pay close attention to how high our cards are.

Double-Pair Double-Suited

You could have two broadway pairs or a broadway pair with a smaller pair. When you can’t draw the nuttiness value from suits in the high sets we need to get it from the connectedness, and double paired hands just can’t be that connected.

Double-Pair Single-Suited

Our hand can be single-suited or triple-suited. We have a lot of playable hands, like the ones suited to the Ace, but also a lot of trash.

Adjusting to 5-Card Frequencies

The following statistics apply to a 5% (or about 8.5 bb/100) rake structure. If you are paying a higher rake, then you should adjust by playing a bit tighter.

Usually, you pay more rake at lower games, where people are not paying attention to rake structures or GTO solutions, and therefore are going to play too many hands anyway, so you should play tighter.

The more rake you pay, the tighter you should play.

If you pay less rake, it allows you to defend the blinds wider, fold less against 3-bets, and cold call more in position. That being said, you should also open-raise a bit tighter because your opponents are incentivized to cold call more and defend the blinds more often.

Keep this in mind without overdoing it too much. So even if you are paying less or more rake, you shouldn’t change your frequencies by that much, generally speaking.

In the following clip from our 5-Card PLO Preflop Theory course, I talk about frequencies for RFI, coldcalling & 3-betting by position.

Key Differences

  • Much lower fold vs. 3-bet

There is a lot more domination and much less equity in 5-card.

EP vs MP 3-Bet

5-Card: 

Fold 10.4%

4-Card: 

Fold 35.4%

  • Slightly wider BB defense and tighter 3-Bet

Because you are OOP and your opponent’s raising range has a ton of equity, you end up 3-betting a little bit tighter. But because you have so much equity yourself, you also end up calling a little bit wider.

BB vs MP RFI

5-Card: 

Call 25.9% / 3-Bet 3.6%

4-Card:

Call 21% / 3-Bet 5%

  • Slightly wider cold calling IP range and tighter 3-Bet

In 4-card PLO we have more fold equity when we 3-bet, so it makes more sense to 3-bet a bit wider to try to win the pot before the flop without paying any rake. In 5-card, the folding frequency vs 3-bets is supposed to be very low, and therefore we are just going to make the call and see the flop.

BTN vs CO RFI

5-Card: 

Call 15.7% / 3-Bet 8%

4-Card:

Call 13.6% / 3-Bet 8.2%

Where to Play 5-Card PLO

If you’re looking to play 5-card PLO online, the best option among regular sites is the GGNetwork, accessible via their flagship site GGPoker and other skins such as Natural8. There are a few alternatives such as Pokerstars and the popular poker apps like Pokerbros, PPPoker and Upoker.

Traffic

Pokerstars provides relatively little action. A couple of tables of PLO25 and 50 are running, but that’s about it. GGPoker offers plenty of action throughout the day regardless of which time zone you’re in.

GGPoker PLO5 Tables

The traffic in the poker apps depend on where the club is oriented. If a club consists of mainly players from the US, the peak hours are generally during American evenings and nights.

The apps are very popular because they offer players from restricted markets a chance to play online poker. 5-Card PLO has been one of the most favored formats for a couple years already.

Rake Structure

Pokerstars offers 5-Card PLO for the stakes PLO25 (blinds $0.25-$0.50) up to PLO40k ($200/$400). Here’s the rake structure:

Stakes
% per Pot
2 Player Cap
3-4 Player Cap
5+ Player Cap
$0.10/$0.25
4.5
$0.50
$1
$2
$0.25/$0.50
5
$0.75
$0.75
$2
$0.50/$1
5
$1
$1
$2.50
$1/$2
5
$1.25
$1.25
$2.75
$2/$4
5
$1.50
$1.50
$3
$2.50/$5
5
$1.50
$1.50
$3
$3/$6
5
$1.50
$1.50
$3.50
$5/$10
4.5
$1.50
$1.50
$3
$10/$20
4.5
$1.75
$1.75
$3
$25/$50
4.5
$2.25
$2
$3
$50/$100
4.5
$2.50
$3
$5
$100/$200
4.5
$3
$5
$5
$200/$400
4.5
$3
$5
$5

GGPoker offers 5-Card PLO for the stakes PLO2 up to PLO1k and high stakes VIP games from PLO5k up to PLO40k. Per pot, 5% is charged across all stakes.

Stakes
2-3 Player Cap
4-6 Player Cap
$0.01/$0.02
$0.03
$0.06
$0.02/$0.05
$0.06
$0.15
$0.05/$0.10
$0.15
$0.30
$0.10/$0.25
$0.38
$0.75
$0.25/$0.50
$0.50
$1
$0.50/$1
$1
$2
$1/$2
$2
$4
$2/$5
$3.75
$7.50
$5/$10
$7.50
$15
$25/$50
$25
$50
$50/$100
$50
$100
$100/$200
$100
$200
$200/$400
$200
$400

The apps offer 5-Card PLO for basically all stakes but can vary across individual clubs. 

The rake structure is 5% charged per pot with a 3 big blind rake cap. This means a rake cap of $0.75 at PLO25 and $3 at PLO100. For PLO600 ($3/$6) and higher stakes, the rake cap generally becomes 2 big blinds.

Rakeback

Pokerstars offers chest rewards with approximately 5% value long-term. They’re currently testing a new rakeback system where 20% of their players have access to.

If this new rakeback system is going to be adopted, players will earn at least 15% rakeback up to a maximum of 65%. High-volume players can earn additional rakeback through the daily Omaha cash game leaderboards.

GGPoker offers rakeback through it’s Fish Buffet program. Players earn a minimum of 15% rakeback up to 60%, based on their Player Value Index (PVI). High-volume players might benefit extra from the daily $25,000 (5-Card) PLO leaderboard.

Black Card, the affiliate program of the PLO Mastermind, offers additional cash rewards for its members on top.

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A rakeback deal in the apps can be discussed and is generally performance-based. The more rake a player generates, the more rakeback he’ll receive with a minimum of 20%.

Get Started

Create a new account at Pokerstars if you don’t have one yet or start playing 5-Card PLO at GGPoker and benefit from additional Black Card rewards! Write ‘blackcard’ in the Bonus Code (optional) section of the application form.

If you like to start playing on one the apps get in touch with Tom via Telegram (https://t.me/tomsmeets) or Discord (@TomSmeets#5554) and make use of our reliable setup.

Top 3 Unions recommended to play 5-card PLO:

1. Diamond Union – Pokerbros
2. Suprema Union – PPPoker
3. Prime Time Union – PPPoker

Conclusion

5-Card PLO is a very popular game and has remained popular to this day. It’s the most popular game on poker apps, and is attracting a lot of recreational players. So, there are a ton of opportunities to build an edge over your opponents by jumping in “early”.

In 5-card PLO, you need stronger hands to build the pot, and side cards matter more. Play tighter against players that are playing too many hands, and remember the quality of suits matters a lot more than the quantity of suits.

Poker is a lot about timing and recognizing good opportunities in the market, and 5-card PLO has a big future. And, at least currently, the games are very soft. You have the chance to be among the few that will play GTO poker when the entirety of the market is falling behind.

To aid you in this journey, we are going to cover more 5-card content in the PLO Mastermind, like our brand new 5-Card PLO Preflop Theory, 5-Card Omaha Play & Explain With GTO Analysis Workshop, and 5 Card PLO courses, as well as offer 5-card PLO solutions in an upcoming software like the PLO Trainer.

Fernando Habegger
As a PLO poker pro I've coached a lot of players, developed high-quality learning programs, and wrote a book about Mastering Small Stakes PLO. I love helping players figure out the game, transform their minds, and achieve success in life and poker.

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