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Updated: July 8, 2024
big o poker

Big O Poker

With the popularity of card games in India and abroad, poker has emerged as one of the most loved games in recent years. Unlike other card games, poker too has a huge fan base and is played across every region, big or small.

Poker is played across various formats, such as Texas Hold ‘em, Omaha, 7-card Stud, Chinese Poker, Hi-Lo 8 or Better, Big O, and many more. However, the Big O poker format is slowly gaining popularity because of the action it brings to the table.

What is Big O Poker?

Big O poker, also called 5-card Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better, is a variant of the popular Omaha poker game and comes with its own set of rules, which makes the game unique and challenging. 

Big O poker is similar to PLO-5, where players receive five-hole cards to begin the game. Big O poker is often played in a hi-lo split format, where half of the pot goes to the best high hand and the other half to the best qualifying low hand, based on the rules of the game. In Big O poker, to win a pot, a player needs to form the best high hand using any two of their hole cards and two others (or the same) to form the best low hand. 

Why is it called Big O Poker?

There are several reasons why the game is called Big O poker. However, noted below are the two main reasons.

Firstly, the name 5 Card Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better is too big a name to call out every time, whereas Big O is easy to announce. Secondly, the addition of an extra card makes the game strategically bigger than other poker formats, hence the name Big O.

How to play Big O Poker?

Before playing Big O, one must first decode the rules of Omaha Hi-Lo, on which the game of Big O is based. 

(The basic rules in Omaha Hi-Lo are very similar to PLO-4, where the players are dealt four-hole cards and have to make the best possible five-card poker hand using any two of the hole cards and three from the community cards. Just like in a game of Hold’ em or PLO, if a player bets and other players fold before the showdown, the former wins the pot without showing their hand. However, if the final bet is called and there is a showdown, the hands are evaluated to determine who has the best high hand and who has the best low hand, with each winning half of the pot.)

Big O poker can be played with a minimum of two players and a maximum of nine players using a standard deck of 52 cards. As the game begins, each player is dealt five hole cards and the betting round starts. There is a pre-flop, flop, turn, and river round, just like in a game of Hold ‘em or Omaha. However, in the end, a player has to use any two from the five-hole cards and any three from the community cards to make the best high hand and use either the same or different two-hole cards and three from the community cards to make their best low hand to win the pot.

In a game of Big O poker, the best high hand means cards of higher value, and the best low hand means cards of lower value. Remember, all cards up to 8 are termed as low cards and those above that are termed as high cards. For example – In the showdown, the community cards dealt on the board are A♦ 6♣ 3♠ K♦ Q♦, and you are dealt A♣ Q♠ 7♦ 4♣, 8♠. 

Now, the best possible high hand you can have from here is a two pair with aces and queens, using the A♣ and Q♠ in your hand and pairing them with the A♦ and Q♦ on board. Meanwhile, in case of low hand, the best combination you can form is 7-6-4-3-A, using the 7♦and 4♣ in your hand and pairing them with A♦ 6♣ and 3♠ on the board.

The best possible low hand in Big O poker is A-2-3-4-5, while 8-7-6-5-4 is considered to be the worst qualifying low hand.

Note: Suppose there is no qualifying low card with either you or your opponent; in that case, the payer with the best high hand wins the entire pot. When you win both halves of the pot, it is called ‘scoop’ or ‘scooping’, and most of the players ideally try this to maximize their winning amount.

Big O Strategy

Playing Big O poker can be entertaining, but it requires a certain skill set and strategy to excel in the game. 

Learn the game in and out: If you think playing Big O is similar to playing NLHE or Hold ‘em, think twice. Once you learn the intricacies of the game, it becomes easier for you to plan your strategies well and take the lead.

Try for the scoop: The main strategy while playing Big O poker is to aim for the scoop. Winning both halves of the pot boosts your bankroll and makes you confident of playing further.

Fold when unsure: It’s not necessary to play every hand that comes your way. If you are not sure, FOLD. Folding a hand isn’t a sign of a weak player. So, when in doubt, fold your cards.

AA isn’t always beneficial: Just like NLHE or Hold ‘em, where pocket aces can be a winning match, the same isn’t the case while playing Big O poker. Flushes and straights win you more hands than pocket aces or kings do.
Look what your opponent does: Playing pre and post-flop depends on how your opponents are playing. Observe your opponents and see what strategy they imply while playing.

Playing Big O Flops

This is the stage where three community cards open on the table, and based on that, you can either decide to play further or fold your cards. In this round, you can decide how much money you want to put in based on your hole cards and the three community cards. 

This is a tricky area in Big O because if you flop a draw, it might put your opponents in uncomfortable situations. A small draw, such as an eight-out straight draw, is not favourable since bigger draws have the potential to beat it. If you are drawing low, you should go for the nut low, as second-nut lows are expensive for a new player. Do not involve yourself in semi-strong hands, such as the second nut flush and the second nut low draws. 

Playing The Turn

Flop is followed by Turn, where the fourth community card opens up. If you had a good hand on the flop, you are more likely to play this round unless there are some huge changes taking place on the table that put your hand in danger.

Avoid straight and flush draws when there are board cards since your opponent may hold a full house that will beat your hand. However, if you have a nut flush or a big pair, you should keep raising with confidence.

Playing The River

Turn is followed by River, where the fifth and the final community card opens up on the table. Utilize your hole cards to make valuable bets and play them properly if you find yourself holding the best five cards. Do not wait for the second nut flush. Try to place yourself well on the middle cards so that you cash in when your challenger goes high with a double-suited set.


Big O poker is quite similar to most 5-card pot-limit Omaha games and can be very entertaining. However, it involves big swings, so play with smaller stakes than usual. Keep in mind that bluffs rarely succeed; focus on showing down the best hand.


1. What are the common mistakes to avoid in Big O Poker?

Big O poker can be entertaining and requires a skill set. However, players make mistakes that result in losing the hand. Some common mistakes include overrating single pairs, overlooking the necessity of using two-hole cards and failing to adjust strategies for the increased card count.

2. Are there online resources for learning Big O Poker strategies?

Yes, there are online classes, tutorials and YouTube lessons on how to play Big O poker that can enhance your understanding and skill about the game.

3. What is the difference between Big O and regular Omaha Poker?

The main difference between Big O and regular Omaha (PLO-4) poker is the number of cards dealt. In the former, you are dealt five cards and four cards are dealt in PLO-4. The addition of an extra card makes the game more interesting.

4. How does the betting structure vary in Big O compared to other poker variants?

The betting structure remains the same across Big O and other poker variants. However, you need to observe the game before betting for every round on Big O.

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