A split in poker is not like a blackjack split.
So what is the split in poker?
Most poker hands have a winner and a loser, but sometimes, the hand ends in a draw. When players get to showdown with the same 5-card hand combination, the pot must be split.
At a casino or live tournament, poker players usually also say “chop pot” or “chop it up” when there’s a draw. For dealers, “split” is the proper poker terminology.
Our guide will cover when and how to split pots in poker. We’re also going to talk about side pots in poker, which happens when a short-stacked player goes all in, but larger stacks continue to play. In this case, there are two pots in play.
Let’s start by talking about how to split poker winnings after a draw in poker.
When to Split a Pot in Poker
Split pots can happen in Texas Hold ‘em and Omaha poker when both players showdown (compare their hands) and have the same combination.
If two players have the same hand, they are very likely to split the pot. Let’s imagine one poker player has A K and the other has A K. The only way they will not draw (and split the pot) is if one of them makes a flush.
There are countless ways that players can end up with the same hand combination, even if they have different hole cards.
Test yourself with these 3 examples. See if you can quickly find the hand combination.
Board #1: Q♠ 9♣ 9♦ 5♠ Q♥
Player 1: A♥ 4♣
Player 2: A♦ J♠
Hand Combination: A ♥/♦ + Q♠ Q♥ 9♣ 9♦
The pot is split because both players have two pairs, with an ace kicker.
Board #2: 8♥ K♥ 8♠ 4♦ K♣
Player 1: 7♠ 8♦
Player 2: A♦ 8♣
Hand Combination: 8♦/♣ + K♥ K♣ 8♥ 8♠
It’s a split pot because both players have a full house, (eights full of kings).
Board #3: 7♥ 10♣ 8♠ A♥ J♦
Player 1: 10♥ 9♣
Player 2: J♠ 9♦
Hand Combination: 7♥ 8♠ + 9♣/♦ + 10♣ J♦
Players will split the pot because they both have a straight from 7 to Jack.
Most split pots are between two players, but it’s possible for more than a 2-way split. In situations where every player uses the 5 community cards for their hand combination (also known as “playing the board”), splits can be multi-way.
In this unfortunate example, players, dealers, and tournament staff, somehow missed a very obvious split pot.
Despite everyone at the table, the audience watching the hand, and various dealers in the area, this player thought he lost the hand. The dealer thought so too, and he was busted from the tournament.
Quickly identifying split pots in live poker environments will help you catch mistakes. Even though dealers are usually very good at spotting draws and chopping pots, they sometimes make mistakes.
If you play online poker, the pots will be split automatically.
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How to Split a Pot in Poker
The basic rules of splitting a pot in poker are quite simple.
Divide the pot by the number of players who win holding the same 5-card poker combination.
In online poker, a split pot is handled in seconds by an automated dealer.
But let’s say the pot is an uneven number – what are the rules then?
If you’re playing online and the pot is $1.01, you’ll notice that one player gets an extra $0.01. If the pot has an odd number, but an even number of players to split between, the odd chip is given to the closest player to the dealer.
When the pot is an even number, with two players to pay out to, it's much easier. Just divide the pot by two and give each player their portion. When there are three players, divide it by three, and so on.
If you bring your home games online, you won’t have to split the pots for yourself. Check out our guide to find out free and real money ways to arrange private games with your friends online.
How to Split Side Pots When Players Go All-In
Sometimes a player with a small stack of chips moves all in, but other players continue playing the hand. This creates two pots; one side pot and one main pot.
At the moment the short-stack player moves all in and gets called, those chips are separated. The chips from the player’s all-in and the equal amount put forth by the opponents make up the side pot.
The player who went all in with the shorter stack is competing for the side pot, but they can’t get anything from the main pot.
The players who continue, are playing for everything, including the side pot.
This is only difficult to sort out in live poker settings. Most experienced dealers don’t have an issue handling side and main pots, but small mistakes can happen.
At showdown, we handle the side pot first. Did the side pot player win the hand? If they have made a combination stronger than the other players, they collect everything in the side pot. The other players who were competing for the main pot will compare hands and award the main pot to the winner.
If the side pot player did not beat the other players, then they have lost the side pot, and their cards are mucked. The other players will now compare hands and award the entire pot to the winner, including the side and main pot.
The tricky part is when you have multiple side pots. In this case, the dealer must arrange different side pots that each player is eligible to win. They must approach this carefully and not get overwhelmed by the math.
Split Poker Games: Omaha Hi/Lo
Splitting pots can happen in many different poker formats, but Omaha Hi/Lo is known as a split poker game. Players compete for two halves of the pot, instead of the full pot in Texas Hold ‘em or normal Omaha.
As the name foreshadows, the Omaha Hi/Lo split has high hands and low hands.
High hands are the same as you might be familiar with from Hold ‘em, with a royal flush being the highest, then a straight flush, quads, and so on.
The low hands must “qualify” to be eligible, meaning five unpaired cards in your hand must be ranked 8 or lower. The best possible hand is A 2 3 4 5 of any suit. Flushes and straights don’t hurt or affect your low hand in Hi/Lo Omaha, but they can help your high hand.
In Omaha Hi/Lo, it’s possible to win half of the pot, the whole pot, or nothing at all. Your high hand might beat your opponent’s, but they might take the low hand portion of the pot, resulting in a 50/50 split.
This game is still popular online on a few select poker sites, but it doesn’t have the same numbers as Texas Hold ‘em and standard Omaha (PLO). Check out Americas Cardroom, also known as ACR. They still have Hi/Lo Omaha games, but it can be hard to find on other poker sites.
You can also find Hi/Lo games on mobile poker clubs :