big o poker

How to Play Big O Poker: Rules, Strategy, and Gameplay

Big O poker is quickly becoming a very popular game that has lots of gambling, action, and thrill rolled up into it. Even though it’s been part of the World Series of Poker since 2015, it still hasn’t quite caught in the mainstream. But we’re hoping to change that.

In an effort to bring the game closer to players, we’re breaking down the Big O. We’re talking about the rules, starting hands, and giving you our top tips for winning big at Big O poker.

What Is Big O Poker?

Big O poker, sometimes called Five-Card Omaha or Omaha 5, is a poker variant that is very similar to Omaha with a few key differences. The full name of Big O is actually 5 Card Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better, which is a bit of a mouthful. That is why most players just use the shorter version – Big O.

The game began appearing in Southern California in 2008 and slowly started spreading around card rooms everywhere. The reason it increased in popularity is that it offers more action than Omaha.

big o poker

How to Play Big O Poker

Instead of being dealt four hole cards, players are dealt five. But just as in Omaha, players have to use exactly two of their cards at showdown. They also have to use three of the community cards to make the best five-card hand.

Big O poker can be played both in limit and pot-limit formats, for high only, or as a hi-lo split game. Even though it might seem like an additional card wouldn’t make much difference to the odds, it actually has an incredible impact on the game.

The additional card nearly doubles the number of potential two-card combinations (from six to ten) that a player has to make their hand. That makes it much more likely to make powerful hands.

In Big O, two pair is very unlikely to be a winning hand nor is three of a kind. So if a straight or flush makes sense on the board, then it’s highly likely that a player has it. And if the board has paired, it’s probable that there’s at least one player with a full house there.

Another thing to know is that when Big O is played in a hi-lo form, the nut low is the low you’re most likely to see at showdown.

The Rules of Big O

If you already know the rules of either Texas Hold’Em or Omaha, you’ll be able to master Big O fairly easily. For the most part, the rules and betting structures are almost identical. 


Every Big O hand starts with two blinds and before any cards are dealt, they have to be posted. The small blind is posted by the player who sits to the left of the button and the one to the left of them has to post the big blind.


Once the blinds have been posted, every player will receive their five hole cards, face down. Starting with the player that’s to the left of the big blind, the action continues clockwise.


As with Texas Hold’Em and PLO, the dealer positions three cards face up once the betting’s done. All players still in the game can use those cards to make the best five-card hand. In the flop, the betting begins with the first active player to the left of the button. 


After the flop, the dealer deals one more card, this time, face up in the middle of the table. That happens once everyone has had the chance to check or match the bet on the table. In Big O, the fourth card is called the Party Card.


On the river, once the turn is through, the dealer places the final card, face up, on the table. That’s when the final round of betting happens. In the scenario when all players check or call on the river, the hand goes to showdown. All players have to turn over their hole cards to see who takes the pot. 

Using traditional five-card poker hand rankings, the pot is awarded to the player with the best hand.  Players have to use two of their five hole cards and three of the five community cards exactly to make their hand.

Basic Big O Strategy

In Big O Poker, having great starting hands is going to be crucial. There are up to ten different two-card combinations that can be used to make the best hand. However, that number is only six in four-card Omaha games.

Also, tilting into Big O is simple because all play for the bigger draw or nut draws in the game. That means that the pot variance will be pretty high. In this game, losing a lot can be a good excuse for a tilt even after you’ve had a good draw on the nut.

Top Tips for Big O Poker

For Big O Poker, one of the top tips is that you should play super low cards and avoid middle cards. What’s more, you have a better opportunity to analyze your opponents’ plays since hands go to showdown more often.

You should also know that raising the pots could increase your chances of a win because the hand is won on the river. Another tip is that backup cards are the most powerful tools in your arsenal.

When it comes to game selection, try to choose tables with lots of actions when you can. Big O poker is a high-action game so a high-stake table can help you see what the game’s really about.

If your play isn’t going as well as you’ve hoped, try to switch up the position or take a break. And as always, don’t bet more than you can afford to lose.

Final Thoughts on Big O Poker

We hope to have helped demystify the game of Big O Poker. If you’ve already mastered Texas Hold’Em and Omaha and are looking for a fresh and exciting variant, we think that you should definitely give Big O a try.

But if you’re still not sure about the basics of poker or want to practice more variants before going into the big leagues, download CoinPoker! Our lobbies are full of players with various skills, bankrolls, and strategies. We’re sure to have something for everyone, including big promotions, high-stakes tournaments, series, and more.

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